Audrey Silk in NYC:
We must be getting close to an election.
When former NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn was sliding in the polls in the 2013 race for mayor due to supporter dismay at her softened stances on issues important to them she reached for a mob-pleasing shield: A new anti-smoker law. She ushered through a law that raised the sales age for cigarettes from 18 to 21. That she failed to win the election is beside the point.
Today, as the next election approaches, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has suddenly lifted aloft the same shield. Out of darkness come ten proposals assaulting smokers.
I say out of darkness because he’s already had four years in office with barely an anti-smoker peep. That was Bloomberg’s signature and it’s no secret that de Blasio didn’t like him or want to be seen in his shadow.
In what way do people win elections by launching assaults on minorities? Why does it ‘please the mob’ to see vindictive laws enacted against minorities? Why should I vote for A because he attacks B? What good does it do me if A attacks B?
Perhaps these minorities are really just punchbags on which to vent spleen? Why such spleen? Maybe it’s the spleen that was born of losing the presidential election last November. Democrats still haven’t got over that. They feel cheated. By Comey. By the Russians. By whoever. Smokers are a convenient target of pent-up rage. Like battered wives. If it wasn’t going to be smokers, it would just be someone else.
Maybe it was the same back in inter-war Germany. Germans were enraged by the harsh terms of the Versailles treaty, and by the state of their country in the aftermath of WW1, and were looking for scapegoats. The Jews were the most convenient targets.
It’s perhaps something that always happens when there are deep animosities. And somehow or other Democrats seem to bear the deepest grudges. They hold grudges against more or less everything. The scapegoat, whoever it is, is a lightning conductor on which to discharge the pent-up, generalised, undirected animosity.
But all this animosity directed at smokers is only going to come back at them one day. Because smokers are gradually being filled with their own animosity towards all the hate-filled, vindictive people who are persecuting them.
I like to think that the current global war on the world’s 1.5 billion smokers will will just run out of steam one day. But that may well be wishful thinking. For it’s also possible that it will just go on and on, and smokers will get angrier and angrier, and it will all explode one day. And it will become a 100 year shooting war of smokers against antismokers. Because that’s what’s slowly coming down the track.
Perhaps that’s how wars start. Perhaps they bubble up out of an ubiquitous discontent, where everyone has become a powder keg of seething, contradictory emotions, a boiling cauldron of rage and hate. Sooner or later, the swollen river overflows its banks, wherever it can find a way. If not here, then somewhere else. And warmongers are people who direct the flood, by breaking the banks in one place before it breaks them somewhere else. We fight wars in Syria in order to avoid them in Manhattan.
The hatred and rage that’s directed at smokers is perhaps the same hatred and rage that’s directed at Donald Trump, or Ann Coulter, or Roger Stone, or Jews, or Muslims, or bankers. Or maybe just America, and Western Civilisation, and the entire infuriating history of the world.