Last night, around 8, I went running in my neighborhood.
I had my dog with me. A cattle dog, well-trained, loping like a wolf, loving the weirdness of being outside after dark. She’s a night girl like me. I’d been feeling deeply awful for days — flu, bronchitis, but suddenly the softness of the Florida air, and the warmth of November on the West Coast, and the dark brightness of lights rippling off water stirred some reserve in me and I was off like my lungs hadn’t been hacking up fluids for days, running like a bullet.
If only I had been a bullet.
I hadn’t gone a mile before some s***head in a truck pulled up and asked if I wanted a ride. What, me and my dog wanted a ride? Jogging on a sidewalk, we wanted a ride?
I have a hard time explaining this to some people. I don’t want to whine about men, or the state of the world, but it’s been years since I’ve felt safe enough to run before or after sunrise, which is the only time you can run outside much of the year where I live, and it’s been years since I’ve had a dog who could run at all, and I was being careful by going from house to house to house of people I knew, intentionally — from the folks who own the restaurant, to Yolanda’s, to Nancy’s, past the cop on the corner, to Conrad’s, to Bobby Nell’s, to James and Janelle’s, carefully so I felt some little sense that the night could belong to me and that I wasn’t taking anything that even resembled a risk, but there are crappy people everywhere, and often evidence of prostitution at the end of the road in the morning, and more than once a man pulled up by the waterfront down the street from my house in broad daylight even (how could it matter that much?), and then last night I was just feeling the night air and there he was: stupidity, threat, and unknown quantity pulling up out of the darkness.
So I leaned towards his rolled-down window and said to him in my calmest, most matter-of-fact voice:
“I’m going to cut you with broken glass.”
And he uttered objectionable sexist pejoratives and sped away. Under the circumstances, what else would he, or I, do?
I’ve always wanted to think that men like that would pause for a moment and just apologize for ruining the black soft asphalt smell, and the exuberance of sensing the stingrays and sharks and dolphins and manatees hovering in the rimming black water, and the ospreys and owls and squirrels hovering in the palmettos — that he might apologize for ruining all that hovering and quivering presence, which is what is really extraordinary about Florida.
But life isn’t like that. There just isn’t enough of Robert Herrick, seeing:
how amber through the streams
More gently strokes the sight
With some conceal’d delight
And so on.
Screw it. I’m tired of being afraid. Last night when I wrote this, this is the part where I expressed anger, and I took the section out, because as someone very wise once told me, someone who was nearly prosecuted for shooting a thug who was pistol-whipping him during an armed robbery as he tried to save his co-worker’s life . . . well, in the spirit of the comment itself I won’t say exactly what he said to me, but it’s true that one should never make a point of literally documenting one’s hand in writing.
Because I want to enjoy the soft beauty of the coastal Florida night. And I don’t want to upset my dog or frighten the neighbors, nor the manatees, who subsist on nothing harsher than lettuce and young mangrove shoots.
Ecosystems ought to be preserved. Women ought to be able to run at night.
I’ve had ecosystems on the mind lately, because so many people are trying to tear them down in the name of “rescuing” them. I’ve been thinking about how ironic it is that the protestors, whether on college campuses or city parks, are all so extremely naive about the ways they are being used by professional protestors — capital-A Anarchists, in every sense of the word — who are hell-bent on tearing down everything around them. They say they want to tear down “capitalism” but thanks to the Anarchists they’re really starting with attacking laws that are the only thing that stand between us and chaos.
They say they want “freedom of thought” and “freedom to go where they want,” but the very first thing the Occupy Anarchist puppet masters (as distinct from the ubiquitous Occupy puppeteers) did was silence and repress women by demanding that women do nothing about being raped at Occupy sites: thus the very first accomplishment of the Occupy movement has been to make it less possible for women to go where they want to go and experience the very freedom that is supposed to be the movement’s goal.
This is hardly accidental. I spent enough time on the Left to realize that the world’s worst most sexist creeps gravitate to extreme Leftist politics, and I spent enough time researching social movements of the past to realize that this condition is central to all revolutionary activism, not some aberration merely concurrent with the rise of bell bottoms.
Socialist creeps in the 19th century demanded that women practice free love to demonstrate their commitment to the cause of spreading socialism, just as Bill Ayers demanded the same of some girlfriend in an apartment in the 1960’s to prove her commitment to racial equality. 19th century anarchists like Charles L. Govan insisted that families and familial relations must be destroyed in favor of mutual philandering, the only true freedom to Govan and one given the predictably creepy name of “Voluntary Cooperation.”
Look back to the late 19th Century and what you find there is a bunch of Anarchists saying things about sex and marriage that wouldn’t be out of place in the infamous “campus sex codes” established by feminists today, while simultaneously insinuating themselves in the larger American socialist movement with the explicit aim of using socialism’s tools to tear down capitalism’s house, then socialism’s house, then their own houses just to be consistent, until everyone would just wander around having Voluntary Cooperation with each other while the cows milked themselves.
You know, like the Occupy protestors.
I realized a long time ago that the utopia imagined by Leftists would not be the type of place where I could go running in the moonlight, whereas places created by the types of people who don’t feel the compulsion to make up disturbingly bloodless titles for stuff like “sex” are the ones who can be trusted to create the types of places where women can walk alone when they feel like it.
Behind all the infantile posturing and useful idiocy about to be unleashed on the United States over the next several months is one very ugly truth: these people want to create a world that is very much worse than this one. And despite the silliness of their visible facade, for the first time in my life I think the activists on the far Left are powerful enough to actually create real destruction. They have the institutions, having insinuated themselves in NGOs and government bureaucracies and especially throughout academia. They have the money, much of it from George Soros, which is why I think it’s so important to look at the ways he is trying to dismantle the American legal system by targeting policing, and courts, and elections.
The streets where I run used to be named after socialist heroes because the town I live in was founded as a socialist colony in 1911. But those people harbored a very real and healthy suspicion of itinerant anarchists who had managed to destroy other small socialist collectives in other states. So they survived, and evolved, through hard work, vigilance, religious faith, family values, and real voluntary cooperation, not the type that needs to be dictated to you by some bearded, wild-eyed ideologue. That’s why I can even think about running at night here, now.
It’s a lesson we had all soon better revisit.