If you are inclined to believe something, you are likely to find evidence that supports your inclination, and with this evidence you may try to persuade others.
Your belief may be, by and large, false and your evidence contrived, but that need have little bearing on what is believed.
For example, you may believe that all white Southerners are — how do I put this delicately — white trash.
By white trash, I mean those of European ancestry who do not possess the internal values of self-discipline, or a sense of shame, or other virtues that raise man above his basest instincts.
White trash will assist you by making themselves conspicuous and available for pictures or videos, which can be posted online and may in turn go viral, giving you and those you wish to persuade both self-reaffirming proof that all Southerners are indeed white trash, as well as a good laugh with friends over the clinking of glasses.
But such “evidence,” in whatever form it may take, can become iconic and have very serious and long-term consequences.
Consider Nat Turner’s Rebellion of 1831 and the novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1852.
Each of these created a caricature of reality that would be embraced by those predisposed to this or that belief, and that would contribute to the nation’s great catastrophe and Southern apocalypse between 1861 and 1876.
Like Nat Turner or Harriet Beecher Stowe, the individual has always had the power to try to insert himself into events and possibly shape them.
But modern global transport, the Internet, and the ubiquity of pictures and videos has made this more true today than ever.
Now, let’s go up north to Michigan. OK, the lockdown is understandably putting people on edge; but in Michigan, a popular rebellion against it has bordered on riot.
Now, being a conservative myself, I believe I understand, by and large, the impulse that is compelling conservative Michiganers to push back against their state government.
For them, it is about freedom, serious doubts about the scope of the lockdown and a deep mistrust of the motives of the governor. I can’t help but to applaud — some.
I also feel like I understand the radical conservatives on the fringe, thus my qualified applause.
So dominating the protests are these assault-rifle-totin’ tough guys all decked out like G.I. Joe.
Now, I posit that these are not just idealists defending freedom, but that they are equally driven by vanity. These are men soaking up the camera, bathing in the spotlight and reveling in their 15 minutes of fame.
The problem is that each one of them in a moment could create the next great icon of the left to prove to their own choir that the right is in fact an unhinged bunch of deplorables.
All it’d take is just one lost temper, just one accidental firing of a gun, just one dead policeman, reporter or bystander — naturally caught on someone’s iPhone to be uploaded and then to go viral.
The other problem is that a shallow and vain man might just be tempted to play that role. A man who might seek the martyrdom and immortality of a Nat Turner or John Brown.
If these hotheads truly cared about the causes they profess — freedom, rule of the people, the Second Amendment, etc. — they should suppress their need to be noticed and dial it down.
The day may come when the working and middle classes may, in fact, have to take up arms against lawful government behaving unlawfully, but that day is hardly on the horizon and we ought not wish for it or invite it by vain, provocative or reckless martial displays.
The left is at all times waiting patiently for those who can be portrayed as representing the right to give them the icons, soundbites and memes that they can use to define all conservatives and conservatism.
Or worse yet, Fort Sumpters that they can use as justification for some great response or action.
My desire, nay, my request is that the Rambo wannabes up in Michigan not hand them the evidence they seek, but instead take a chill pill and leave their AKs and tactical gear at home.