It’s Dusk in America

By Jim Mullen
Emergency Management, Once Removed

Consider this: “As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged.” William O Douglas

Everything in our nation may seem “normal”. The Super Bowl happened. Pitchers and catchers will report for spring training. March Madness will arrive on schedule. Still, as the furor over impeachment fades in the background, there are emergency management and homeland security issues that can’t be ignored.

The conflagration in Australia is just one more illustration of the threat climate change poses to humanity; another is the flooding of the City Council chambers of Venice, Italy. Around the world, displacement of populations will create more refugees and more stresses on developed countries, prompting more conflict between nations.

Closer to home: there are valid concerns about the long – term viability of our coastal cities. Epic wildfires and storms have become “normal” in our nation, too. The extreme weather incidents across the US broke over 120,000 daily records. These events have caused communities around the US and the world to declare “climate emergencies.” (source: Hagerty Consulting’s Feb 2020 Disaster Discourse monthly).

DHS and FEMA leaders feign ignorance despite overwhelming scientific evidence of the threat to the planet climate change poses. Really, is a government job title on one’s resume worth neglecting a certifiable public safety threat? We’re in trouble when good people cringe from their responsibilities for fear of professional consequences.

The federal administration, acting in our name, thinks it is OK to separate children from parents, and not be overly concerned with court orders to reunite them (Gee, where did we put those kids?). Apparently, “protecting” our border means to some officials that it’s OK to put their fellow human beings, even children, in cages. When did we become frightened of infants and toddlers? Perhaps, when they grow up and realize what we have done to them and their families, we should fear their reaction.

Legal asylum seekers are refused admission into the country and consigned to substandard camps just outside our borders for months on end while their petitions are adjudicated. Do we still offer hope and opportunity to those “tired… poor… huddled masses yearning to breathe free”? Can we?

It may be convenient to place blame on one leader, but to lead one must have followers, enablers and willing accomplices. If this is who at least some of us have become, there is no “Easy Button” to push to fix this.

Oh, and there is this: scientists have moved the “Doomsday Clock” to within 100 seconds of midnight. That’s the closest to “midnight” in their 73 years of timekeeping. I wonder why.

Everything may seem “normal” on the surface right now, but it’s not. After dusk comes the night. I can see night falling rapidly across our country. What I can’t see, just yet, is what challenges the light of morning will present to emergency managers and homeland security professionals. One thing is certain: this nightfall isn’t “normal”.

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Information on this Blog is provided with the understanding that the authors and publishers are not engaged in rendering professional advice or services. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with an professional adviser. Opinions expressed here represent the viewpoints of individuals authoring the blog and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Center of Excellence.