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America the Great ... Police State

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Posted on Aug 2, 2012
Gore Vidal
Truthdig/Zuade Kaufman

By Gore Vidal

(Page 4)

My last view of what looked to me to be parade’s end occurred during a walk in the woods that I took below a Duke University campus building, where I saw a broken bridge over a stream. I turned to what looked to be a local farmer, who realized that I was looking with “suspicious” interest at a vast pile of repair work: bags of cement, etc., and he anticipated my question: “They’re going to rebuild this bridge—it’s something very, very big,” he said. “Why in the middle of the woods?” I asked. “There are no roads here.” He said, “No, there’s a trail, true, it’s not much of a trail.” “So why are they building such a huge bridge,” I wondered, “when they’ve been happy apparently for many years with a very small bridge?” And he said, “Well, we’ve been told by the feds that they fear that there may be civilian insurrections. And they want to be prepared for them, and they need this bridge, no matter how small, to cross the stream in case of an emergency.”

Needless to say, I had no quick rejoinder. But he seemed to want to talk, and so I said, “What was here before?” And he said, “A small bridge which a small pickup truck could go back and forth over.” So I asked, “And who told you that it was in case of civilian problems?” And he said, “Well, everybody told us that and explained the size of it and most people here thought it was better to have a big bridge than no bridge at all, and here we are.”

I went back to the lecture hall at Duke where I’d been speaking, and I chatted about the woods, about the bridge. Nobody seemed to have noticed it. I asked a politically minded professor, and he said, “Well, it’s a problem.” He said, “The government’s getting ready for something; we don’t know what it is, but something’s obviously on their minds that’s disturbing them.” And I said, “Revolution?” “Oh,” he laughed, “this is North Carolina, don’t bother about that, but whatever it is, they’re putting a lot of money into this bridge.”

A year or two later, I took the same walk again. There was a very large bridge of solid cement, and it looked entirely finished. I found another gentleman of the forest, and I said, “Well, can you find much use for this huge and expensive bridge?” He said, “It certainly was expensive, I can tell you that.” He had the happy look of someone who had benefited from the expense. We chatted about the government and what they were up to, and a certain wariness could be heard in our dialogue. We were puzzled; something unexpected had happened, something really unimaginable—a vast work had been constructed for imminent horrors, it would have seemed. I did ask here and there about it, but I was given no answer.

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