Established 160 years ago, the short-lived route was once the quickest way to deliver mail across the United States
For an 18-month span from 1860 to 1861, one of the quickest and most reliable ways to send mail across the United States was via the Pony Express. With a roughly 2,000-mile route stretching from Sacramento, California, to Saint Joseph, Missouri, the mail service employed relays of riders who would make the ten-day journey, rain or shine, on horseback through the Rocky Mountains and across the Great Plains, all in the name of delivering the mail.
Before the founding of the Pony Express on April 3, 1861, it wasn’t uncommon for pieces of mail to take weeks or even months to travel across the country. However, the new delivery service, which was operated by the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company, a stagecoach line, cut delivery times significantly, making it particularly appealing to newspaper publishers as a means to spread the news like wildfire. Riders would carry the mail in a mochila (a leather knapsack) before passing it along to the next rider at one of the 190 designated stations along the route. On average, a rider would travel for up to 100 miles at a time, changing horses they were riding at full gallop every 10 to 15 minutes.
“For the service to work, information had to get there faster than regular mail,” says Lynn Heidelbaugh, a curator for the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. “Weight was an issue, and it was important to keep it down so it would be less of a burden on the horses. That’s why the mail itself was on slips of paper that were tissue thin and printed with indelible ink, so it wouldn’t bleed if it got wet. People would use shorthand and codes, the bare minimum to keep news reports moving. Otherwise, the sender would incur more expenses by weight.”
Costing $5/per ounce (equivalent to roughly $164 today after inflation), the high price tag explains why the Pony Express service was predominately used by businesses and newspapers that could afford the hefty sum. The fastest delivery was five days, and the letter contained an announcement that Abraham Lincoln won the presidency.
The steady gig was popular amongst cowboys, such as William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, who supposedly rode his first stint at 14 years of age. Unfortunately, the service quickly proved to be unsustainable, remaining in the red throughout its short run. On October 26, 1861, just two days after the debut of the transcontinental telegraph system, the Pony Express was shuttered for good.
Despite being short-lived, the Pony Express has been memorialized in numerous ways, from being celebrated on postage stamps to being the subject of popular movies, including the 1953 western Pony Express starring Charlton Heston. Museums across the country have artifacts from the service’s heyday in their holdings, including the National Postal Museum, which has an original stamped envelope and a replica mochila. Even 160 years later, the National Park Service operates the Pony Express National Historic Trail, which offers an interactive map with details on former stations and other important sites. And the National Pony Express Association holds an annual re-ride each summer, where teams of riders replicate the route and deliver real mail.
“I love commemorating this piece of history,” says Patrick Hearty, who has been participating in the re-ride for decades with his family. “There’s something about the romance of the Pony Express that draws people in.”
To experience the Pony Express for yourself, here are a half-dozen sites to visit along the Pony Express National Historic Trail.
B. F. Hastings Bank Building, Sacramento, California
As the capital of California, Sacramento served as the westernmost terminus of the Pony Express. It was there in the city’s bustling downtown that riders would mount their horses before starting their journey eastward. One site of particular importance is the B. F. Hastings Building, a two-story brick structure built in 1853 that housed the offices of Wells Fargo & Company, one of the delivery service’s contractors. Located at the corner of J and Second streets, the historical landmark is only a few blocks from the Sacramento River, where mail would arrive via ferry from San Francisco before being distributed by horseback.
Pony Express National Museum, Saint Joseph, Missouri
One of the most important sites along the route was in Saint Joseph, Missouri, the trail’s eastern endpoint. It was there that riders and horses would rest before embarking on their next delivery, the latter of which would stay at the Pony Express Stable (formerly known as Pike’s Peak Stable). While the stable’s original wooden structure no longer exists, the replacement brick building from 1888 still stands and is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. The stables are also part of the Pony Express National Museum, with its collection of artifacts, including historic photos, maps, saddles, harnesses and blacksmith tools as well as a replica of a relay station where riders would quickly change steeds before venturing on.
Hollenberg Pony Express Station, Hanover, Kansas
Many of the Pony Express stations no longer exist—or if they do, they’re in ruins. The Hollenberg Pony Express Station in Hanover, Kansas, however, is one of the last standing. This one-story wood structure dates back to 1857, and before becoming a station point along the route (as well as a stop along the Oregon and California migrant trails), it served as a grocery store, tavern and unofficial post office. The building now houses a museum outfitted with period furnishings, articles of clothing similar to what travelers would’ve worn more than a century ago and interpretive exhibitions about the Pony Express. The site sits 15 miles west of the Pony Express Barn and Museum in Marysville, Kansas, consisting of an original barn from 1859 and seven period rooms that show the resting quarters where riders would have stayed. There’s also a telegraph room, which hinted at the inevitable demise of the Pony Express.
Fort Kearney State Historical Park, Kearney, Nebraska
As an influx of settlers traveled west in search of new beginnings, the U.S. Army began building forts in the mid-1840s along the routes as safe stopping points for weary travelers to rest. In 1860, Fort Kearney became a Pony Express station. While none of the original adobe buildings have survived, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has rebuilt two structures to give visitors a glimpse of what the area may have looked like. Another site located ten miles to the north along Interstate 80 in south-central Nebraska is the The Archway, an impressive building at exit 275 that straddles the highway and houses an extensive collection of artifacts retelling 170 years of overland migration. One highlight includes a video reenactment of riders switching horses at a station.
Fort Laramie National Historical Site, Fort Laramie, Wyoming
One of the most well-traveled passages taken by pioneers was through Fort Laramie National Historic Site, a former fur trading fort established in 1834. It’s estimated that some 50,000 people traveled through the area prior to 1952. By the time the first Pony Express riders barreled by on horseback, it had become a well-known rest stop for wagon trains and served as a safe haven patrolled by U.S. troops on what was Native American land. Many of the fort’s original buildings still remain, and ongoing restorations have brought some of the most derelict structures back to their former beauty, including Officer’s Row, where military officers resided, and the Post Trader’s Store, where travelers would stock up on supplies.
Pony Express Statue, Salt Lake City, Utah
Following the Mormon Trail from Fort Bridger, Wyoming, riders would travel west through treacherous mountain passes to Salt Lake City before heading to Carson City, Nevada. To commemorate Utah’s leg of the Pony Express, the late sculptor Avard Fairbanks created a monument featuring two riders on horseback in the midst of a mochila exchange. The sculpture, which is located five miles east of downtown at This Is the Place Heritage Park, serves as a lasting reminder of the men who traveled cross country to deliver the mail. The site sits 50 miles north of what is now Camp Floyd State Park Museum, a former U.S. military garrison in Fairfield, Utah, that was a common stopping point for travelers, including Pony Express riders, who would often overnight at the (still standing) two-story wooden Stagecoach Inn, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
The world’s oldest soul food restaurant is also one of its best.
WHEN LACEY AND BERTHA WILSON opened The Grill in 1944, they were the sole employees, and Lacey’s most recent job was as a shoeshine man. Today, it is an epicurean gem, the world’s oldest soul food restaurant, and a D.C. institution.
The decades-long path was not always an easy one. Staff refer to the restaurant as being financed “two chickens at a time,” since Lacey would fry and sell two chickens and then the couple would buy two more. During the violence and unrest that followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968, the couple’s son, Lacey Jr., who eventually took over the business, says he sat outside with a shotgun to protect the restaurant, and still had to put out a fire that threatened the establishment.
Despite the obstacles, its food has always been revered, drawing celebrities and a notably multi-racial crowd, even when segregation was the norm in Washington, as well as laudatory writeups that include a local food writer claiming that The Grill’s “dense but moist” corn muffins would be his last meal.
In 2005, Lacey Wilson, Jr., sold the restaurant to entrepreneur Imar Hutchins. Although he made some changes, including the tweaked name, he kept most of the original details, and when he replaced the parking lot with a condominium building, he called it The Lacey as a nod to the original owners.
The walls are still packed with framed and signed pictures of countless politicians, athletes, entertainers, and other luminaries who have visited. Patrons can even eat in the “Shotgun Booth,” which features a plaque remembering the stand made by Lacey Wilson, Jr., during the 1968 riots.
Know Before You Go
Everything on the menu is delicious, but ordering the smothered chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, collard greens, and a big cup of sweet tea is particularly sublime. The menu also features some vegan options—an addition introduced by owner Imar Hutchins, who is vegetarian.
During a visit to conquered Britain, Julius Caesar was appalled by how much milk the northerners consumed. Strabo, a philosopher, geographer, and historian of Ancient Rome, disparaged the Celts for excessive milk drinking. And Tacitus, a Roman senator and historian, described the German diet as crude and tasteless by singling out their fondness for “curdled milk.”
The Romans often commented on the inferiority of other cultures, and they took excessive milk drinking as evidence of barbarism. Similarly, butter was a useful ointment for burns; it was not a suitable food. As Pliny the Elder bluntly put it, butter is “the choicest food among barbarian tribes.”
Ancient Romans were not alone in looking down on butter and milk. In Greece, the word “butter” was not spoken kindly. The Greeks called it boutyros, cow curds, and as sheep and goat people, they regarded those who kept cows and made butter as an alien lot. The Thracians, the people who lived to the north of Greece, ancestors of the Bulgarians and others, ate butter. Greeks contemptuously referred to them as “butter eaters.”
For centuries, this was the norm in many parts of the world: People who ate butter and drank milk were uncivilized outsiders.
Curiously, the Greco-Roman disdain for dairy stopped short at cheese. In Rome, cheese was eaten by both the rich and the poor. A considerable variety of hard, soft, and smoked cheeses were produced in the city, and others were imported from around the empire. Smoked goat’s-milk cheese from Velabrum, the valley by the Forum that runs up to Capitoline Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome, was especially popular—part of a general fondness for smoking foods. Cheeses were often given as gifts, and they were a standard breakfast food, along with olives, eggs, bread, honey, and sometimes leftovers from the night before.
But Mediterranean people had little need for butter. They already had olive oil, which is less prone to spoilage, heats to much higher temperatures without burning, and was and is regarded as more healthful. Even now in North Africa, most of Greece, Mediterranean France, Spain, and most—but certainly not all—of Italy, olive oil dominates and butter is rarely used. An omelet may be made with butter in Greece today, but until recently, even that was made with olive oil.
Climate, then, determined the poor status of butter and milk. Because they spoiled quickly in the climate of southern Europe and kept far better in northern Europe, northerners used far more milk. Germanic people were avid butter eaters and were said to have perfected salted butter. The Celts, who settled down in good dairying spots such as Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, also became known for their butter. Milk was so important to the “barbarians” that a dry cow was considered a family crisis.
This led southern classical cultures, which were already contemptuous of northerners, to take the greater consumption of dairy as evidence of their barbarian nature. To hear the Romans tell it, the barbarians to their north were swilling milk by the mugful. (In actuality, they were consuming milk conservatively; a cow was an expensive animal to maintain.)
Differences in climate made butter and milk a mark of otherness—unlike cheese which kept better in warmer climes. Since the presence of large, powerful cities and cultures in the far north is a relatively modern development, this linked any non-cheese dairy with inferior (or at least less powerful) groups.
Drinking milk wasn’t unknown in places such as Ancient Rome. But for similar reasons, it was linked with the country and lower classes. Until the age of refrigeration, very little fresh drinking milk was consumed in the Middle East. In Rome, due to the inevitability of spoilage, and because fresh milk was available only on farms, it was consumed mostly by the farmers’ children and by peasants who lived nearby, often with salted or sweetened bread. This led to fresh milk’s being widely regarded as a food of low status. Drinking milk was something that only crude, uneducated rural people did and was rare among adults of all social classes.
The link between milk, butter, and rural farmers ensured that even after Rome fell (to milk-swilling barbarians), dairy remained uncouth. The English, whose model for imperialism was the Romans, sneered at what they thought was the barbaric overuse of butter by the Irish. Fynes Moryson, secretary to the viceroy, who spent much time in Ireland in the reign of Elizabeth I, reported that the Irish “swallow whole lumps of filthy butter.” And southern Europe never lost its sense of superiority over its neighbors, still considering them to be milk-swilling barbarians.
If anyone can take credit for raising milk and butter up to respectability, it is the dairy-crazed Dutch.
In the country’s early years, the Dutch were singled out as a crude and comic people endlessly engorged on milk, butter, and cheese. Even the Flemish laughed at them, calling them kaaskoppen, or “cheese heads.” Northerners, too, belittled the Dutch for their dairy habits. One English pamphlet said, “A Dutchman is a lusty, fat, two legged cheese-worm.”
Insults aside, it wasn’t exaggeration. The upper classes prided themselves on setting their tables with several types of butter. The Dutch enjoyed whey or buttermilk with breakfast—even in the poorhouses, breakfast was buttermilk and bread—and butter was used wherever possible. A traditional meat stew, hutsepot, used butter too.
The Dutch navy, which in the 16th century was becoming a formidable force, issued to each sailor a weekly ration of half a pound of cheese, half a pound of butter, and a five-pound loaf of bread. The historian Simon Schama calculated that a Dutch ship with a crew of 100 in 1636 would need among their provisions 450 pounds of cheese and one and a quarter tons of butter.
An ample supply of cheese and butter was the right of every Dutchman. They believed that dairy food was an essential part of a good diet, and artists from the celebrated Dutch school of still-life painting often included cheeses in their compositions. The Dutch made many cheeses and had an effective distribution system, with numerous urban centers featuring cheese markets.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, the Dutch became skilled at reclaiming land from the sea by building dykes and creating polders, drained patches of reclaimed seabed. This led to dramatic improvements in cattle breeding and land maintenance. Farmers began having tremendous success crossbreeding livestock to develop cows that produced more milk—between the mid-16th and mid-17th centuries, the value of a Dutch cow quadrupled. The Dutch were starting to understand what best to feed cattle, and how best to cultivate pastureland. Soon, their cows were producing more than twice the yield of cows in neighboring countries.
Though at first unnoticed, a huge shift occurred in the European perception of the Dutch. Their country, which had broken off from Spanish rule in the 1590s, was rapidly changing from a former lowly possession of the Holy Roman Empire to an independent republic displaying a genius in art, science, and engineering. Seemingly overnight, the Netherlands became a global trading empire and leading maritime and economic power of the world. Suddenly, the cheese heads were considered brilliant.
All over Europe there were discussions and writings about what made the Dutch such geniuses. And those having these discussions often freely admitted that they had once thought of the Dutch as idiots who just drank milk and ate cheese. The Europeans also started recognizing that there was genius in Dutch dairy farms—in their better pastures, better cows, and ability to farm below-sea-level land. Dutch dairying, too, was now considered brilliant.
After the cheeseheads proved themselves geniuses—and established a widely emulated, global empire—the main bastion of anti-dairy sentiment was East Asia. Japanese Buddhists avoided dairy products and looked down on Westerners, who they thought consumed too much dairy. They claimed they could smell it on them, and even into the 20th century used the pejorative term Batā dasaku, or “butter stinker,” for a Westerner.
Similar sentiments existed in China, where the consumption of dairy has been so rare that historically, many have assumed that the Chinese as a race were lactose-intolerant. This contrasted with their neighbors, the Mongols, who drank mare milk and traveled with dried cheese curds.
But this is changing. China has become the world’s third-largest milk producer, and today, almost 40 percent of Chinese drink milk, the highest percentage in Chinese history. The new and growing upper class tends to crave everything Western, and dairy is Western. Ice cream is popular, and yogurt parlors are in, too.
Milk has been debated for at least the past 10,000 years. It was the first food to find its way into a modern scientific laboratory, and it’s the most regulated of all foods. People have argued over the importance of breastfeeding, the healthful versus unhealthful qualities of milk, farming practices, animal rights, raw versus pasteurized milk, the safety of raw milk cheese, and more.
But one argument that seems to have been finally set to rest is that milk and butter are no longer just for barbarians.
Opened in 1911, this small shop is the oldest ongoing establishment in St. George.
LOCATED IN THE HISTORIC DISTRICT, Judd’s General Store is the oldest ongoing establishment in St. George. In 1908, pioneer businessman Thomas Judd purchased a home that had been built in 1876, from Joseph Bentley. Just a few years later in 1911, Judd built a store out of adobe bricks in front of the home. The Bentleys had been operating a small store out of the home and Thomas Judd purchased their inventory to open his store.
The store sold general merchandise to locals, many of whom were sheep and cattle ranchers. This included dry goods, groceries, hay, grain, and even clothing. After Thomas Judd’s death in 1922, the store passed to his son Joseph and then to his grandson Tom Jr. The store remained in the Judd family until 1982, and was the oldest family-owned business in St. George.
In 1982 the city wanted to demolish the home and store to create a parking lot, however, Dr. Mark and Barbara Greene purchased both historic buildings as part of their “Green Gate Village” project. Tom Judd, Jr., grandson of the store’s original owner, continued to work at the store until 1988 when he retired at age 76.
The home, known as the Bentley House, was converted into a historic inn. The store has been restored and retains the original counter, shelving, and scales and sells nostalgic items such as glass-bottle sodas and retro candy. The 1946 gas pump in front of the store stands in the same spot as the gas pump seen in historic photos of the store.
Common phobic responses including hoplophobia (a term Marine Col. Jeff Cooper said he first coined in1966), the morbid, irrational fear of weapons, firearms, guns, knives, military, police, legally armed law-abiding citizens, etc., are usually viewed as learned behavioral responses. Bad learning. Not useful. In extreme cases, a phobic response can seriously get in the way of a person’s life! In much milder forms, people can choose to just live with it. For example, a fear of flying could be seriously problematic, depending on one’s occupation or lifestyle. Fear of snakes and alligators, not so much, unless you live in Florida. But then again, you should have some fear of alligators. In other words, it all depends on who, what, where, your personal life, and the degree of the bad learning. Other causes exist too.
The bad news is: when irrational thoughts and seriously limiting beliefs get well-conditioned and reinforced regardless of causation, they will absolutely seem to get increasingly real and powerful to even otherwise moderately functional people. That’s the trap. It’s like quicksand. And some people may have much greater loss of functionality, depending on many factors. It can become enormously limiting by changing people’s thinking, their behaviors, their lives in many ways, always for the worse! It can even affect others. For example, a Second Amendment advocate would have a next to impossible time of it if married to a hoplophobe. Similarly, a person with hoplophobia should never be voted into a position where they can either set firearm policy laws or enforce them. That would be certain, absolute disaster!
The good news is: if and when a great flood of more useful, wiser dominant thoughts are backed up with more powerful motivations, emotions, new life-saving needs and skills, learnings and unconscious resources, with high desire and genuine willingness, old learnings can indeed get extinguished and replaced. Thus “change” can become much more irresistible than that older, bad learning. When that happens, the newer, stronger, more resourceful dominant thoughts will win the day. And a great day it will be! And when that happens with hoplophobia … voilà … we will have new, highly motivated gun owners! And smarter, more well-informed voters! At least, that’s the formula. It is my hope that more and more people, including Jews, will undergo this very transformation. Let’s face it, without a well-informed electorate, we will lose!
Now more bad news: While irrational bad learning like hoplophobia is not necessarily permanent, it easily can be, and sadly usually is. But where there is a sincere motivation, a powerful meaning and new learning, there is at least, hope.
Hoplophobia is most common with Leftists. With today’s American Marxists (as “The Great One” Mark Levin so accurately calls them), it is absolutely a mandatory, foundational, knee-jerk response! The political pressures are way too strong! They irrationally both hate and blame the gun itself (an inanimate object), not the crazies and criminals who use them. They believe that by taking firearms away from law-abiding citizens, all our problems will magically go away. In other words, the gun itself did it! Guns have evil intent! They will never understand that our right to defend ourselves comes from G-d, not man. The Second Amendment is meant to STOP the government, wayward politicians and law-makers, from taking our rights away. They have it all hopelessly backwards. For us, this is profoundly dangerous!
Hoplophobes aren’t necessarily bad people. They aren’t automatically sick people, though some are decidedly bad, sick, and even evil, as are those who head their Democrat party. They are wholly uninformed about the Second Amendment and guns. They are rigid, stuck, ideological people. It’s their false, bad learning about all things Second Amendment that gets deeply invested in them, in many ways. When this happens, beliefs get deeply rooted in cognitive concrete. And below that concrete is the bottomless quicksand of fiercely wanting to be right and demanding their way so they can have POWER and CONTROL over everyone else. It’s all for the greater good of the collective. Individual rights not only don’t matter, they must be stripped away don’t cha know. Death to the individual. Long live the collective.
More than knowing next to nothing about that which they seek to dominate and rule, hardcore hoplophobes will never learn by listening to reason or indisputable facts. They don’t know they don’t know, what they don’t know. And they profoundly don’t care! All that matters is POWER and CONTROL. And they want it all. That criminals will be emboldened and innocent lives will be lost because of their ignorance and selfishness, laws and policies, is most unfortunate. It’s called collateral damage. But that is not their prime directive. All that matters is POWER and CONTROL. And they want it all.
Hoplophobes very often become hysterical and present the worst symptoms as those with any hardcore phobic response. Trying to explain anything factual to a hardcore hoplophobe is all but guaranteed to be a hopeless battle, one that generates a recitation of false talking points escalating into yelling and screaming. In other words, it’s a complete waste of time. One will find greater company when discussing quantum mechanics with a brick wall.
Most importantly, hoplophobia is a totally FUNCTIONAL phobic response. It is highly PURPOSEFUL. From a political standpoint, the ever-present “gain” of it all, is POWER and CONTROL over those who are meant to sit down, shut up, and obey their rulers. Here’s why …
American Marxists not only hate the Second Amendment, they hate the Constitution, individual liberty, individual rights, our history, our traditions, capitalism, religion, the family unit … they hate America herself! They want to tear it down in its entirety and reimagine it their way. And what’s going to replace all our foundations? Why the American Marxist government, of course! That’s the way of the American Marxist!
If these people ever get absolute total control (and they are well on their way), they can and will cram their beliefs, demands, rules, regulations, their entire power trip of total domination, right down the throats and back up the other end of all Americans. Our rights, beliefs, traditions and liberties will be gone, as will the constitutional and historical foundations of our very country! Our America will be gone. The Second Amendment, like the First, will be among the very first to go.
The Cloward and Piven “overload, collapse and destroy the system from within” theory works, and they know it. The Second Amendment that protects our right to defend ourselves (that comes from G-d, not government), is but one piece of a much greater whole. The truth is, we are already in more than serious trouble and at more than tremendous risk. We have been for some time and it’s getting worse every single day. It’s happening right here, right now, right before our eyes. If one is awake and not woke, you can’t miss it. We are not looking into the abyss. We are tragically, already very much in the abyss!
I must quickly add, this transformational change I am rooting for is only for apolitical hoplophobes. American Marxists are automatically, by definition, foundational hoplophobes who detest from the innermost core of their secular beings, the very idea of G-d, much less a G-d given right, and the freedom and liberty of people to defend their very lives with a gun. This is all very much part of their default setting.
Foundational hoplophobes are all political hacks and beyond all hope. They can be exceptionally evil. They don’t deserve contemptuous pity as some have suggested. What does a person, for example, with an adverse phobic response to public speaking or being enclosed in an MRI deserve? I say, understanding, without judgment. Snark isn’t going to promote understanding and cool headed analysis of the situation. Snark may feel good in the moment, but it doesn’t do anything to help win the battle. And it is a battle! The only way to deal with American Marxists who hate the Second Amendment and want to take away our rights, is to defeat them at the ballot box. More conversations and debate will be useless. There is no middle ground nor reaching across the aisle. We are way too divided. We have nothing in common. And the Second Amendment is a very small part of our ever-escalating uncivil, Civil War.
REMEMBER: THE ONLY WAY TO DEAL WITH AMERICAN MARXISTS AND FOUNDATIONAL HOPLOPHOBES IS TO DEFEAT THEM AT THE BALLOT BOX!
So as I see it, there are FOUR TYPES OF HOPLOPHOBES.
Type One – A severe case of hoplophobia with genuine, full-blown, recognizable mind-body symptoms, well-known in the literature. They hate guns and will do everything in their power to take away the G-d given Second Amendment rights of all law-abiding citizens, like you. They could seek professional help, but it is much more likely that they would never ever even consider it. They are firmly set in the concrete. Deep in the quicksand. They do not believe what you believe. They do not want what you want. And they most probably never will.
REMEMBER: HOPLOPHOBES MUST BE DEFEATED AT THE BALLOT BOX!
Type Two – A mild case of hoplophobia, but still unlikely to seek help. Fear of guns and all the rest, but they aren’t necessarily out to take away the rights of others. They might personally avoid certain situations, probably don’t watch COPS, are OK with others maintaining their right of self-defense, but probably will still insist that 2A rights come from the government, and not from G-d. They more than likely believe that Karl Marx was right when he wrote that “religion is the opium of the people.”
Type Three – This purely functional hoplophobe is a fake. They are like the song from the 1950’s: The Great Pretender. With them, it is 100% philosophical and political. So when they act out a symptom, it’s all a lie, a con. It’s a show meant to defeat you! They want their American Marxist party to prevail in ruling and regulating the hell out of all Second Amendment proponents. They want taxation, regulation, and confiscation (the big three), but they are just acting the part because they want that confiscation end game they dream of. It’s all virtue signaling, to the max!
Type Four – This is the mild case of hoplophobia where the person has come to a time and place in their life where they may and can truly decide, that they seriously want to make a significant change. They may seek initial help from their Primary Care Physician and get a quality referral. Or maybe, just maybe, strong, dynamic individuals can finally outgrow it all by themselves, by sensing and heeding a strong message from life, realize what it means, and then have the inner strength to finally outgrow the old Lefty lies and propaganda from the political hacks on PMSNBC and the like. Those talking heads don’t know their asses from the barrel of a gun. But they sure know how to recite their hateful, toxic talking points of pure poisoned propaganda, lying, lying, and lying, night, after night, after night. Why do they do it, besides to draw a salary? In order to keep their small audience hopelessly misinformed, devilishly lied to, and all ginned up!
So there you have it …
Types One, Two, and Four are genuinely conditioned, FULLY AUTOMATIC, ASSAULT BEHAVIOR. The assault behavior is against you, your 2A rights, and your personal liberty! The phobic response is automatic.
Type Three is the fake. It is a SEMI-AUTOMATIC, ASSAULT BEHAVIOR. The assault behavior is against you, your 2A rights, and your personal liberty! This fake phobic response is not automatic but consciously chosen, just as one would consciously choose to pull a revolver’s hammer back to cock it for single action.
Interestingly, we 2A people well understand the difference between automatic and semi-automatic. In this paper, I and we certainly do. If the theory fits … use it! Sadly, American Marxists never understand the difference of most anything, and somehow, a 5 shot, 38 Special magically becomes an “assault pistol,” and a basic hunting rifle, an “assault weapon” as used in the theater of war. Ignorance on parade!
Lastly, if a hoplophobe is robbed or worse, his own assault behavior could literally become a self-affliction! That’s exactly right. His own assault behavior could be self-afflicted and render him impotent against the criminals and crazies of the world! Tragically, without any self-defense options, the outcome could be deadly!
Type Five – After decades of research, I recently discovered that there actually is a fifth type of hoplophobia involving those who got fixated by watching too many TV reruns from the ’30’s, ’40’s, and ’50’s of the famous cowboy Hopalong Cassidy and his horse, Topper. It seems that these always functional hoplophobes got too close to Topper … and his droppings! They stepped right in it, slipped, fell, and rolled around good and long, before getting up. And for this reason, to this very day, if you look at the bottom of all functional hoplophobes’ shoes and their clothes, you will always see the clearest evidence of exactly what I mean. It is unmistakable! But as with the leaders of their Democrat party, there really is no need to visually inspect the bottom of their shoes or their clothes. There is instead one very simple test. One single, deep inhalation will more than confirm the matter. Now since I can not positively, 100% confirm that Hoplophobes all got their name by standing too close to Hopalong Cassidy’s horse, evidently rolling around with great zest and adventure while good old Topper was relieving himself, as a sincere researcher, I can not officially count it as a certified fifth type of hoplophobia. But nonetheless, it is true. There is absolutely no doubt about it. Don’t doubt me!
To seriously misquote John Keats and his good old, Ode on a Grecian Urn …
“Crap is crap, crap crap. Don’t step in it. Learn to walk around it. That is all you know on earth cowboy, and all you need to know.”
REMEMBER: REGARDLESS OF TYPE, THE ONLY WAY TO DEAL WITH BOTH FOUNDATIONAL HOPLOPHOBES AND AMERICAN MARXISTS IS TO DEFEAT THEM AT THE BALLOT BOX!
American Marxism is very much like a metastasizing cancer. It is a terminal disease. No country has ever survived any form of it.
Following my article proper, I will share a post by J. KB which will show that highly motivated Type Four hoplophobes indeed can change. Seeking a good therapist can often get seriously motivated people the good help they need if and when they seriously want to outgrow their bad learning. Psychotherapy, clinical hypnosis, medication, and other options are available. The point is, there is hope … even though I fully admit it is only for a small minority of people with this particular learned phobic response. Hoplophobia is just too well-rooted and supported by the American Marxist party (formerly the Democrat party), the media (a branch of the American Marxist party), most cable news stations (branches of the American Marxist party), network news stations (branches of the American Marxist party), Big Tech (a branch of the American Marxist party), the teachers union (a branch of the American Marxist party), etc. Yes, they are seriously in our educational system (to brainwash and ruin the kids when they’re young), our health care, our military, and most everywhere else.
We must take Mark Levin’s advice and be like modern-day Thomas Paine pamphleteers to get the word out! All our rights and liberties hang in the balance!
Things happen in life because of causes and conditions. We know this. The truth is and always is, when certain satisfactory causes and conditions are present and become ripe for change, great learning and transformation is always possible from within our shared human condition. And that’s a good thing. It’s a very good thing. It’s the best part of the very best to be found in man’s nature. Indeed, in life itself.
Is any of this possible transformation a certainty? … POSITIVELY NOT! Will it be easy? … ABSOLUTELY NEVER! The enemy is insidious. It gets stronger and more harmful every day.
Freud was spot on about resistance and defense mechanisms. But if and when (and never one without the other) causes and conditions permit it, human change is most often at least a possibility, a hope, and if you like and dare to silently think it so the Thought Police don’t arrest you, jail you, fire you, cancel you, or otherwise try to ruin your life … it’s worth a prayer!
As the kids say, “now that’s the change I’m talking about!” Keep reading and we’ll see some evidence of great change in action!
The following article alluded to earlier, recently posted by J. KB on a blog called Gun Free Zone, speaks exactly to my point. The examples given should be an inspirational call to action for many. As I always say … one can hope.
Stay safe. Stay free. Stay awake. Not woke. And always at the ready!
Asian Community Responds to Violence by Buying Guns by J. KB
Six months ago, Svetlana Kim was so scared of guns, she couldn’t even look at an image of one without feeling anxious.
If she was home watching a movie that suddenly depicted gun violence, the 47-year-old accountant would scramble to hit the fast-forward button on the remote. If she couldn’t skip the scene, she would shut her eyes, and her husband would gently put his hand over hers until the scene was over. Kim knew it was just a movie, but in those moments, she couldn’t help but feel like she was in the victim’s shoes, staring the shooter in the eye.
“My brain was always signaling danger. I just felt like, it’s here, it’s present,” says Kim, who blames empathy and imagination for her visceral reaction, since she has never personally experienced gun violence. “It was bad like that, and I couldn’t control it.”
That all changed when something scarier came along. Months into the pandemic, people who looked like Kim were being shoved and kicked to the ground, punched, stabbed and slashed, while doing everyday activities like walking around the neighborhood, shopping and riding buses and trains. One after another, unprovoked, racist attacks against Asian Americans being unfairly blamed for the COVID-19 virus started to increase in major U.S. cities. Kim wondered if she could be the next victim.
“It was a turning point when I saw that people just randomly got attacked based on their race,” says Kim, a Korean American, who lives in Downey, Calif.
On March 3, Kim went from being a “really anti-gun person” to the new owner of a Springfield Armory handgun.
After months of rising anti-Asian hatred, many others like Kim are having a change of heart about firearms. Tired of relying on bystanders for aid that sometimes never comes, more Asian Americans are bucking entrenched cultural perceptions of guns and overcoming language barriers to help fuel a spike in U.S. gun ownership. While there is no official data on firearm purchases by Asian Americans, a survey by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) indicated that Asian Americans bought 42% more firearms and ammunition in the first six months of 2020 than they did in the same timeframe the year before. At Jimmy’s Sportshop in Mineola, N.Y., where guns and pepper spray have been flying off the shelves since the pandemic, gun purchases by Asian buyers have surged 100% due to recent fears of attacks, according to Jimmy Gong and Jay Zeng, the shop’s Chinese-American owners.
Asians have been historically underrepresented among gun owners, so much so that major national demographic surveys conducted on gun ownership trends in the past have left out Asians as a category entirely. A 2013 NSSF report on diversity found some reasons why. About 35% said gun ownership negatively impacts their ethnic community, while 38% said owning a firearm is not desirable in their culture, according to the report, which was based on a national survey of 6,000 white, Black, Hispanic and Asian adults. That was true for Reduta, who waited a year to tell his family that he had bought a gun. Kim still has not shared the news with her two sisters.
“Asians never like guns,” says David Liu, another gun shop owner who has seen a spike in his Arcadia, Calif. business. “They only buy guns after they’ve become a victim.”
I suspect that the Asian community was never that into guns because in most Asian countries, legal civilian gun ownership is either extremely restricted or non-existent.
Asian immigrants, therefore, have very little in the way of native gun culture.
The last line “They only buy guns after they’ve become a victim” is a significant point. Even though the Asian community might not have a gun culture when they are threatened they adapt and arm themselves.
No community targeted for violence should be at the mercy of their attackers.
Meet force with force and defend yourself.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know where I am going to go next with this.
The Jewish community in America needs to take note of this. Like the Asian community, the Jewish community has little to no native gun culture, having been systematically disarmed in Europe and then concentrated in non-gun-friendly locations like New York City. And like the Asian community, we are also being targeted for hate crimes. It’s time the Jewish community arm itself as well, to be prepared to face violence with violence and end the attacks that threaten us.
Happy birthday Lawrence Brooks! The World War II veteran celebrated his 112th birthday on Sunday, September 12, 2021. Brooks is the oldest surviving veteran of the war. He currently resides in Louisiana.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Brooks celebrated his birthday with a drive-by party. The gathering was hosted by the National World War II Museum.
The event wasn’t just a parade, but also included a live performance from the museum vocal trio and entertainment from New Orleans musicians, according to ABC 12.
The World War II Museum hosted Brooks’ previous birthday which was also a drive-by event due to Covid concerns. Last year’s party included a flyover of WWII-era aircraft, according to WPXI.
Surviving the war and then living to 112-years-old is a feat that was met with congratulations from Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards who tweeted. “Mr. Brooks, the entire state of Louisiana thanks you for your service and we all wish you a joyous birthday.”
Mr. Brooks was drafted in 1940 at the age of 31. He served in the 91st Engineer Battalion which was comprised mostly of Black soldiers. He was stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines. His unit built bridges, roads, and airstrips that offered important ground support for Allied troops.
The National World War II Museum has provided an oral history as told directly by Lawrence Brooks.
Veterans Affairs notes that Mr. Brooks was drafted in 1940, trained at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, and was honorably discharged in November 1941. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he was called back into service.
After the war ended, Brooks left the Army to become a forklift operator. He has lived a long life that includes two marriages and five children. His family has grown considerably over the years and now included 13 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.
His daughter says that minus some sight issues in his left eye, he has lived a very healthy life that hasn’t included any major illnesses.
Happy birthday Mr. Brooks, and thank you for your service.
For hard evidence of nature’s ability to erupt into catastrophic disaster, look no further than the volcano. These metaphorical portals to hell, which currently number about 1500 globally, not only spew volcanic ash and lava, but can radically alter the climate and the course of world events.
Most are stratovolcanoes—cone-shaped elevations built over time from layers of ash and lava. Their relatively soft composition allows pressure to build up inside until they blow, resulting in explosive eruptions with little prior warning. Their steep slopes also generate mudslides and pyroclastic flows. All of these factors make them the most dangerous volcano type. (In contrast, shield volcanoes—like those in Hawaii—are low to the ground and often emit syrupy lava from vents in the Earth.)
Need examples? Look no further than these incendiary volcanic milestones, in no particular order.
1. NOVARUPTA // ALASKA
Volcanic eruptions can be measured in terms of consequences or simply in terms of sheer output. In the case of the latter, the Novarupta, or Katmai, eruption that began June 6, 1912, was a monumental event. Over 13 cubic kilometers of lava was released over the course of 60 hours, or the equivalent of 573.2 million tons every hour. In Kodiak, about 100 miles away, over 1 foot of ash collected on the ground. The cooled sheet of ash surrounding the volcano wound up forming the “Valley of 10,000 Smokes,” creating steaming fumaroles (openings in the ground where gas or water vapor escapes). The incident even prompted an atmospheric haze that was said to have reduced summer temperatures. All told, it was the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century and earned a 6 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI), a measurement of the explosive thrust of an eruption, with 1 being least powerful and 8 being the most powerful.
2. KRAKATOA // INDONESIA
Indonesia holds the unwelcome distinction of hosting two of the most potent volcanic events of the 1800s. (Unfortunate, but understandable—its 150 active volcanoes are the most of any country.) One occurred in August 1883, when Krakatoa (sometimes spelled Krakatau) erupted on an island near Sumatra. Roughly five cubic miles of lava shot 50 miles into the air and ushered in massive tsunamis. The volcano gave off several warnings in the months leading up to its big burst, with a series of comparatively smaller explosions where the ash plume reached only seven miles into the sky. The first big blast, with a VEI of 6, came August 26, which demolished two-thirds of the island. Multiple eruptions followed, resulting in a global veil of ash that ultimately caused the planet’s temperature to drop by several degrees. About 36,000 people were killed, including 31,000 who perished when the tsunamis crashed into neighboring islands.
3. MOUNT TAMBORA // INDONESIA
The mercilessness of volcanoes was on full and morbid display with Mount Tambora, which blew in April 1815 in Sumbawa, Indonesia. In the days before the blast, which had a VEI of 7, nearby soldiers heard cannon-like rumbling and armed themselves, thinking an enemy was about to attack. In a way, one was. Tambora spewed 12 cubic miles of gases and dust 25 miles into the atmosphere, triggering towering tsunamis and drenching the surrounding islands in ash. Roughly 10,000 people perished immediately, and a total of 90,000 died due to resulting food shortages. Today, scientists believe the epic eruption may have radically altered global weather, leading to crop failures and famine in North America and Europe. In 1816, with Tambora’s ash still blanketing the skies of the Northern Hemisphere, the poet Lord Byron challenged his literary friends, including Mary Shelley, to write something appropriately macabre. She began Frankenstein.
4. MOUNT ST. HELENS // WASHINGTON
Volcanic terror hit North America on May 18, 1980, when Mount St. Helens blew its top. Days earlier, an earthquake had prompted avalanches on the volcano. Thousands of earthquakes followed, which destabilized the terrain. Then, a 5.1-magnitude earthquake hit, causing the peak to blow ash and hot gases skyward. The blast took an incredible 1314 feet off the height of the mountain. Effects were felt and seen across 230 square miles, and 158 miles of highway were damaged. Recovery from the disaster cost over $1.1 billion. With 57 people killed, Mount St. Helens‘s explosion—with a VEI of 5—remains the deadliest volcanic eruption in U.S. history.
5. MOUNT VESUVIUS // ITALY
While not quite on the level of other massive eruptions (it’s only a 5 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index), the lore surrounding the rage of Mount Vesuvius puts it in a category all its own. The volcano exploded on August 24 in the year 79 CE, turning the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum into frozen portraits of thousands of interrupted lives. Before being blanketed in ash, Pompeii was known for fertile ground that fed orchards and vineyards; Herculaneum was a summer getaway for the Roman elite. When Vesuvius erupted, many stayed behind hoping to wait it out. But another blast gassed and incinerated the cities, then buried them in mud and ash. The cities were rediscovered in the 18th century, and new discoveries about the last days of Pompeii and Herculaneum are still being made.
6. MOUNT PINATUBO // PHILIPPINES
A colossal volcanic eruption—6 on the VEI—of recent vintage, Mount Pinatubo caused cataclysmic destruction of a thickly populated part of Luzon in the Philippines on June 15, 1991. After a series of earthquakes and a stream of magma making its way 20 miles upwards to the surface of the Earth, Pinatubo’s activity crescendoed when gas-powered lava, totaling more than five cubic kilometers, was released. Pyroclastic flows of ash and pumice left deposits over 660 feet thick at the foot of the mountain, while tropical storms created vast mudslides out of the volcanic ejecta. Heavy layers of wet ash crushed buildings. Fortunately, scientific forecasts were able to warn residents, who were evacuated; thousands of lives were saved.
7. LAKI // ICELAND
For sheer stubbornness, few volcanic eruptions beat Laski, located in what is now Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland. Instead of one giant eruption, Laki perpetuated a series of lava flows and explosions that lasted for more than eight months in 1783 and 1784 and registered a VEI of 4. Laki produced enough lava to pave the entire city of Boston 207 feet deep. The eruption emitted gases that resulted in acid rain strong enough to burn leaves and irritate skin, while the toll on livestock caused a famine that may have killed up to one-quarter of Iceland’s population at the time. Like the aftermath of Tambora’s eruption, Laki’s ash veil caused widespread weather disruption and food shortages in Europe. It may have even fueled the unrest that preceded the French Revolution.
8. MOUNT PELÉE // MARTINIQUE
Mount Pelée loomed over the quiet hamlet of St. Pierre, on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, like a ticking time bomb. In early May 1902, a violent lahar—a river of volcanic rock fragments and water—burst out of the side of the mountain, inundating a sugar refinery before reaching the sea and triggering a tsunami. The disturbances caused wildlife—huge insects and venomous snakes—to flee the mountains and seek safety in the town. Bites from vipers killed about 50 people. But the island’s governor assured residents that there was no real danger. Unfortunately, he was extremely wrong. On May 8, the mountain exploded with a VEI of 4, unleashing a blast of superheated gas and debris that destroyed St. Pierre and killed 30,000 residents in just a few minutes.
9. NEVADO DEL RUIZ // COLOMBIA
At 77 square miles, Nevado del Ruiz is an imposing stratovolcano. It has erupted several times since 1570, but the most memorable event occurred November 13, 1985. As magma bubbled up toward the volcano’s apex, the heat melted huge glaciers that blanketed the peak. The rivers of melted ice became devastating lahars, which joined up with existing rivers to cause catastrophic mudslides in the valleys. During the VEI 3 eruption, the nearby town of Armero was flattened and 23,000 people lost their lives in the floods.
10. MOUNT TARAWERA // NEW ZEALAND
The people inhabiting North Island in New Zealand got a seismic shock on June 10, 1886, when Mount Tarawera erupted, forming fissures in the Earth that extended 10 miles from the epicenter. The VEI 5 blasts were heard up to 310 miles away, making it the largest volcanic event in New Zealand’s history. It also has some ghost stories attached to it. Some European residents insisted they saw a Māori war canoe sailing on Lake Tarawera just before the eruption. They hailed the sailors, but they didn’t respond. Later, after the cataclysm, the observers learned no such canoe had ever been seen on the lake.
11. YELLOWSTONE // WYOMING
Beneath the grounds of Yellowstone National Park lurks a supervolcano, one that’s believed to have erupted substantially at least three times in recorded human history: 2.1 million years ago (which had a VEI of 8), 1.3 million years ago, and 664,000 years ago. The last left a depression in the ground 34 miles by 50 miles in size. Today, the magma underneath Yellowstone is five miles deep, prompting some to speculate that if it ever erupted—and there’s a non-zero chance of that happening—it could bury the Rockies in ash, thanks to its potential for unleashing a super-eruption (anything with a VEI of 8 or higher).
I doubt Disney lost any sleep over J.R.R. Tolkien dislike of him.
He went to see “Snow White” with C.S. Lewis.
The Movie Date That Solidified J.R.R. Tolkien’s Dislike of Walt Disney
IT’S NO SECRET THAT J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were legendary frenemies. But while they may have sparred over fantasy and religion, they shared one little-known viewpoint: a disdain for the works of Walt Disney.
Literary friendships are often thought of in the driest abstract, with learned people of letters sitting in stuffy rooms debating only the most important intellectual issues. But like anyone, sometimes a couple of authors just go to the movies. And on at least one occasion, the architect of Middle-earth and the father of Narnia went and saw Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs together.
Dwarfs ought to be ugly of course, but not in that way. And the dwarfs’ jazz party was pretty bad. I suppose it never occurred to the poor boob that you could give them any other kind of music. But all the terrifying bits were good, and the animals really most moving: and the use of shadows (of dwarfs and vultures) was real genius. What might not have come of it if this man had been educated–or even brought up in a decent society?
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In another instance, Lewis called the evil queen’s design unoriginal, and described the dwarves as having, “bloated, drunken, low comedy faces.”
Tolkien didn’t like the goofball dwarfs either. The Tolkien Companion notes that he found Snow White lovely, but otherwise wasn’t pleased with the dwarves. To both Tolkien and Lewis, it seemed, Disney’s dwarves were a gross simplification of a concept they held as precious. “I think it grated on them that he was commercializing something that they considered almost sacrosanct,” says Trish Lambert, a Tolkien scholar and author of the essay, Snow White and Bilbo Baggins: Divergences and Convergences Between Disney and Tolkien. “Here you have a brash, American entrepreneur who had the audacity to go in and make money off of fairy tales.”
Consider the context here: Tolkien’s book The Hobbit was first released in the U.K. in September of 1937, just a couple of months before Snow White hit theaters in the U.S. Both works highlighted a gaggle of dwarves as major supporting characters, but they could hardly have been more different. Disney’s dwarfs were jolly, goofy miners (hey, Dopey), rooted in the stories of the Brothers Grimm; Tolkien’s dwarves were a grim, mythical race (although not wholly without whimsy), born from Nordic myth. “Isn’t it interesting that Tolkien and Disney, almost concurrently, came up with dwarves that are not evil?” notes Lambert. “I researched, is there any possibility that there was a connection? And there’s not.”
Across the ocean and seemingly independent of one another, two of the greatest storytellers of the 20th century had a case of parallel invention, although this is not to say that Tolkien and Disney were unaware of one another. There are unflattering references to Disney’s early cartoons in Tolkien’s letters, and according to Lambert, Tolkien would most certainly have been aware of Snow White before its release. “I don’t have any way of proving this, other than the things he’s written on Disney in the general sense, but I suspect [Snow White] irritated the heck out of Tolkien,” she says.
Tolkien’s opinion of Disney didn’t get any better over the years. In a number of letters dated after his Snow White date with Lewis, Tolkien refers to Disney’s works as “vulgar.” Tolkien also believed that fairy tales had become hopelessly infantilized, noting in his 1947 essay On Fairy-Stories that “the association of children and fairy-stories is an accident of our domestic history.”
Years later, in a 1964 letter to a Miss J.L. Curry at Stanford University, likely spurred on by the controversy surrounding Disney’s treatment of Mary Poppins, Tolkien further laid bare his true feelings on Disney’s work. He described Disney’s talent as “hopelessly corrupted,” writing, “Though in most of the ‘pictures’ proceeding from his studios there are admirable or charming passages, the effect of all of them is to me disgusting. Some have given me nausea…” He goes on to call Disney a “cheat,” noting that while he too had a profit motive behind his work, he wouldn’t stoop to working with Disney.
Just two years later, Joy Hill, a representative of Allan & Unwin, Tolkien’s publisher, would approach Disney Studios about turning the Lord of the Rings trilogy into an animated film. Disney Studios declined, thinking that it would be far too expensive to produce. The Tolkien Companion assumes that this conversation occurred without Tolkien’s permission.
The relationship between Tolkien and Lewis is often viewed in light of their religious differences, or contrasted by nerdy arguments about Narnia vs. Middle-earth. But in the eminently relatable experience of going to see a Disney movie that they both disliked, their relationship seems less fantastical, and all the more human.
I can not get the chart to copy use the link above to see it.
The above image (click on it then keyboard ‘F’ to reveal full size) is the start of a large detailed infographic compiled from 2019 FBI data, comparing figures for different weapons’ usage in homicides, including a “by state” analysis. It shows how the much condemned rifles feature very low compared with hand guns, but also shows significant figures for non-firearm homicide weapons, which are frequently overlooked. (Download the large image file for reference if required.)
Thanks to the Jocelyn Law Firm:—
With the renewed push by the federal government for an ‘assault weapons’ ban, we couldn’t help but wonder, just how often are ‘assault rifles’ really to blame for crimes? More specifically, how often are they used as murder weapons when compared to all of the other types of weapons available?
Of the 16,425 homicides that occurred in 2019, the FBI was able to collect supplemental data for 13,922 of them, which is what our data is based on. The weapon types are broken down into the different types of firearms: handguns, rifles, shotguns, and a category for homicides in which the type of firearm was unknown. It also compares the number of homicides that were committed by non-firearm weapons such as knives or cutting instruments as well as bodily weapons, which include people’s hands, fists, and feet. Non-firearm weapons were used for one-quarter of all homicides in the United States.
Would a ban on ‘assault rifles’ actually help to curb the violence? With rifles being a relatively uncommon type of weapon used in homicides in the United States, an ‘assault rifle’ ban may not make much difference when it comes to the number of murders that occur. Homicides are overwhelmingly committed using handguns; they were found to be the most common murder weapon for nearly half of all homicides in the United States in 2019. Even hands, fists, and feet are used to commit homicide almost twice as often as a rifle is.
An NIH study that investigated the levels of criminal activity committed with assault weapons or other high-capacity semiautomatics also found that these types of weapons are only being used in a small percentage of crimes: “Assault weapons (primarily assault-type rifles) account for 2-12% of guns used in crime in general (most estimates suggest less than 7%).” Wouldn’t all of the time, money, and resources being used to push for an assault rifle ban be better used elsewhere, such as creating a better mental health-care system that is accessible to those that need it most?
Nathaniel Philbrick’s new book follows the first president on his 1789 journey across America
In 1789, newly elected president George Washington faced one of the most difficult challenges of his life: creating a unified nation out of a disparate, discordant drove of 13 stubbornly independent former colonies.
To do that, Washington decided to take a road trip up and down the new United States. Along the way, the former commander-in-chief of the Continental Army used his prominence and prestige—as well as his peaceful persona and level leadership—to convince new Americans to forget what divided them and focus on what united them.
“The divisions are remarkably reminiscent of where we are now,” says Philbrick. “It was a book that I thought would be fun to do but didn’t anticipate how deep I would get into it with my research and how it connects with modern events. Even though we were following someone from 230-plus years ago, it seemed like it was happening today.”
Part travelogue, part history lesson and part personal reflection, Travels With George reveals how Washington convinced a very skeptical public that America could pull off its experiment in democracy. The key, the president argued, was in the hands of those who elected him: “The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.”
“This was a novel concept,” Philbrick says. “Everywhere else, there is a king or dictator who is leading the country. This is not someone who has inherited the role. This is someone who has been elected by the people. It had never been done before.”
The leading issue of the day was who should have control: the states or the federal government. Since 1781, the new country had foundered along under the Articles of Confederation, which provided extensive power to the states. It wasn’t working. The Federalists wanted a stronger central government, while the Anti-Federalists wanted power to remain with the former colonies.
Written in 1787, the Constitution sought to remedy the problem by divvying up responsibilities in a more sensible manner—but it only created a deeper divide between the two parties. Washington, who had a disdain for political parties and famously refused to join one, hoped to show Americans a middle ground. He decided to use his star power to reassure the nation with his calm, steady influence.
“Men’s minds are as variant as their faces,” wrote Washington in a 1789 letter. “Liberality and charity … ought to govern in all disputes about matters of importance.” The president added that “clamor and misrepresentation … only serve to foment the passions, without enlightening the understanding.”
Washington took his show on the road in the spring of 1789. Over the span of two years, he visited all 13 original states (14 if you count Maine, which was then part of Massachusetts), traveling on horseback and by carriage along rutted dirt roads and over rising rivers. The president often donned his magnificent Continental Army uniform and rode his favorite white stallion into towns, where he was greeted by cheering citizens. Along the way, he communicated his hopes for the new nation and how he needed everyone’s support to make this vision reality.
“It was awe inspiring,” Philbrick says. “Washington was seriously the only one [who] could have sold the concept to the people. Not only was [he] able to unify us politically, he was able to unify us as a nation. Instead of saying our state is our country—as was customary back then—we were saying the United States is our nation. We take that for granted today, but it wasn’t that way when Washington took office in 1789.”
To help Americans understand the importance of uniting, Washington imparted some not-too-subtle lessons. First, he refused to travel to Rhode Island until the state officially ratified the Constitution in May 1790. Once residents accepted the measure, Washington quickly added the new country’s smallest state to his itinerary. He was greeted by cheering citizens, Federalist and Anti-Federalist alike.
“His decision to visit Newport and Providence just a few months after Rhode Island approved the Constitution caught just about everybody by surprise,” Philbrick says. “It was an inspired move, turning some of the new government’s harshest critics into some of its biggest fans.”
He adds, “Washington was bigger than Elvis. He was the most popular man in the world at the time.”
In Boston, the president made a profound statement by refusing John Hancock’s invitation to dinner. The Massachusetts governor had failed to visit Washington following his arrival in town, instead expecting the president to come to him.
“Before the ratification of the Constitution, the states held most of the power,” Philbrick explains. “Washington wanted to make it unmistakably clear that things were different now and that the president outranked a governor. The distinction seems almost laughably obvious today, but that was not the case in the fall of 1789.”
In the South, Washington similarly demonstrated his leadership skills by announcing the formation of a new federal district that would serve as the nation’s seat of power. Known as the Residence Act, this 1790 compromise moved the capital from New York to its present-day location. (Philadelphia served as the temporary capital during Washington, D.C.’s construction.) In return, the federal government assumed state debts accrued during the Revolutionary War.
“The real culminating moment for me came at the end of Washington’s tour of the South, when he finalized the deal to build the new capital city on the banks of the Potomac,” Philbrick says. “For him, the creation of what would become Washington, D.C. was the physical embodiment of the lasting union he was attempting to establish during his tour of America.”
Washington was clearly proud of completing this arduous, 1,700-mile cross-country journey. It was a major accomplishment to undertake—and survive—such a trip when most roads were little more than bumpy paths through the wilderness.
The president also had reason to be pleased with his reception. Greeted by throngs of exuberant people everywhere, Washington was, on several occasions, moved to tears by the veneration he received. His tour to gain “the good-will, the support, of the people for the General Government,” as he later wrote, clearly united Americans in putting aside their differences for the future prosperity of the country.
In the spirit of John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley: In Search of America, which found that author traversing the country with his dog, Philbrick and his wife, Melissa, brought their pup Dora on their 2018–19 journey across the eastern part of the country. As much as possible, they followed Washington’s original route, traveling by ship to Rhode Island and along the Post Road in Connecticut. The modern-day trio was slowed by traffic jams at the shopping malls that now proliferate the historic highway.
Travels With George is interspersed with interactions of people the Philbricks met, including Miguel in Bristol, Pennsylvania, and Kassidy Plyler in Camden, South Carolina. Each provides their own unique perspective on being an American: Miguel reflects on his life after moving to the U.S. from Puerto Rico in 1968, while Kassidy relays her experience of being a member of the Catawba Nation, which allied with Washington during the Seven Years War and the American Revolution.
So, is Washington still relevant to Americans today? More so than ever, Philbrick says.
“Washington was the biggest guy on the planet at the time,” he adds. “What he wanted to do was create something that was bigger than he was. That’s the important legacy that we must honor. It’s up to us to make sure it isn’t lost.”
Would the “father of our country” be upset by the separation so evident in society today? Philbrick pauses for a moment, then answers:
I don’t think Washington would be that surprised. By the time he was done with his second term as president, the political divide was as wide as it is today. I think he would have been really upset at the attempts to undermine the people’s faith in government and the rule of law. Those were the essential elements in this whole experiment we call the United States. The people have to have faith in the laws of the land. To undermine that faith is to undermine Washington’s legacy. It’s up to each generation of Americans to reaffirm the legacy of what Washington created.