In The Land of the Red Queen

Illustration by Carol Nicklaus from Out of Order, by Dale Carlson, published by Bick Publishing, 2014

Illustration by Carol Nicklaus from Out of Order, by Dale Carlson, Bick Publishing, 2014

“We are all mad here.”
The Cheshire Cat, from Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

I woke up this morning with my mind in the strangest place… It was “curiouser and curiouser”… A real wonderland of confusion, and I was quite astonished that I’d never really noticed some of this strangeness before.

It went kind of like this:

Many people have said – and more so, recently – that they feel they need weapons, and lots of them, not only for sport or self-defense, but to stand against “the government,” should our government decide to take over the country. And I thought, “But isn’t the government already sort of in charge of the country? And, if we’re patriots, and we love our democracy, isn’t one of the things we love most is the fact that We, The People, actually choose our government? Isn’t the fact that our government has been designed to represent us the very thing that makes our country so special? And, if that’s the case, why would anyone think we might need to protect ourselves against that very thing?”

“Well, yes,” I then thought, trying to make some sense of this line of thinking, to myself, “There are certainly some things that ‘the government’ does that we don’t particularly like, but isn’t that what’s so unique about our democracy – the ability of citizens to change what the government does, in a peaceful and democratic way? Isn’t that what makes us different from Mali, or Iraq, or Syria, and one of the primary reasons we are always so sure that we need to convince other countries that our way is better, even if we have to blast them into oblivion while doing that convincing?”

Our way is better, isn’t it? If it is, how could anyone think our government is going to turn against us? Isn’t that very thought kind of – you know – unpatriotic? And if our system really isn’t better than other systems, then we’d have to become a country full of heavily armed paramilitary cells, fueled by paranoia, ever ready for armed combat with genuine or imagined enemies… OMG! We’d be Afghanistan! That would be awful! Then the government really would have to take over…

And then I thought… “Uh-oh…”

And then I got even more confused… What about our flag? Doesn’t that flag symbolize our government – the government we choose to represent us? If that flag doesn’t represent us, and our government, why are some people waving it, with special fervor, over their personal, and secret, arsenals that they’ve accumulated in order to protect themselves from… The government?

And isn’t the Second Amendment itself part of the foundation of that government? If so, why are some people “defending” just that one part, and not the whole thing? And, if we all have the right to bear arms, why would anyone be worried that the government might find out how vigorously he or she is exercising that right, and object to documenting, openly, the extent to which he or she is doing so? Are there any other rights we feel we are granted, but must exercise only in secret, lest the government sweep in and take them away from us?

This was all making less and less sense to me, but it just wouldn’t go away…

“Okay,” I thought, still trying to figure it all out, “Maybe the government is secretly being taken over by liberals or Jews or commies or fascists or Hispanics or Asians or blacks or bankers or homosexuals who want to take away all of our guns so only they will have them, and we’ll be helpless.” (And then, for a moment, I got somewhat distracted by the image of a bunch of LGBT activists in full camo, carrying assault weapons, roaming the streets and menacing our children and pets and the American Way of Life… And then I was brought back to this seemingly growing-ever-more-strange confusion of the morning, by the realization that not everybody finds that image as unlikely as I do. I also think the idea of a “zombie apocalypse” is equally remote, but, by this time, I thought I might be losing my grip…)

Still, it didn’t stop there. Next, I thought, “Well, if the government really decides to take over, how would they do that? They would use American troops, wouldn’t they? And wouldn’t these be the same troops we all support, especially if we’re Real American Patriots? And don’t our troops pledge to support… the United States of America…? Isn’t that what they fight and die to protect? If that’s not us, who is it?”

If American soldiers came to our front doors, to enforce the “government takeover”… What would Real Americans do then – try to kill them? Our own troops!? And I wondered how many of the people stocking up on weapons and freeze-dried food packets and batteries and toilet paper, against the possibility of that “government takeover,” are veterans themselves, who swore to uphold that very pledge…

And I wondered how anybody could think that he or she, even with dozens of hand-held “assault weapons” and endless ammunition, would last very long if seriously attacked by the full force of the United States military machine, the most powerful in the world – with planes and ships and ground-to-air missiles and drones and tanks and chemicals and nuclear weapons… As well, apparently, as possibly having to fend off tens of thousands of their less-prepared fellow Americans, who would be clamoring desperately at their doors for food and shelter… Fellow Americans who had obviously been less than sufficiently Patriotic and prepared, and therefore must also be considered “enemies”…

It was right about then that I realized that my mistake was probably looking for reason, where only conviction exists.

And that’s when I thought of the Land of the Red Queen, and the Cheshire Cat.


Leave a comment


  1. Kathy Sumpter

     /  February 7, 2013

    The heck with assault rifles — OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!!

  2. love it!

    • Hi, Lori – Thanks! I debated for a bit about whether or not this was just too weird… Evidently not!

      Delighted to hear from you…


  3. dcg

     /  February 7, 2013

    Well now, Carol, that seems like a bit of a blitzkreig on a straw man or on at least a relatively small number of extremists in our society. But it’s also true that government grows and grows, as in the health care sector, 18 percent of our economy, and even those supposedly in favor of smaller government and elected for that purpose seem unable or unwilling to do much about it.

    No, the government is not about to come to our door in person, but it intrudes in our lives in so many other ways. Guns aren’t the answer to protecting ourselves from such intrusions, and certainly “assault weapons,” whatever those are, make no sense in our society. Different thinking on the growth of government would be refreshing, recognizing that government probably doesn’t have many good answers to the gun problem other than making “progressives” feel they are being moral and upstanding by supporting gun control legislation.

    If you ever make it to the bottom of the rabbit hole, you are likely to find yourself in Washington, probably in the Capitol.

    You are provocative and interesting as ever.


    P.S. I thought Jews had long ago taken over the government. Wasn’t FDR of that persuasion?

    • Hey, dcg – “Blitzkrieg”… Love it. And it WAS intended to address the position of that small minority, as you have so rightly surmised – as much as I intend to “do” anything. I just write stuff. And then when I hit “publish,” I hardly know what is going to happen.

      Some people DO think that “the government” is going to come to their bunker doors, to take their guns.

      I do think the bottom of the rabbit hole would be DC. Yikes!

      I treasure your responses. And trust that L-B is loving her new computer. I’m still working on getting one for myself.

      You 60’s are the best, the very best.


  4. Jen

     /  February 7, 2013

    What we, collectively, don’t seem to understand, is that the biggest threat to ALL OF US is that we continue to allow ourselves to be divided by our opinions and our convictions. I am right, you are wrong. They are wrong, we are right. Divide…and conquer. We have to find common ground and compromise. We have to.

    • Hi, Jen… Couldn’t agree with you more. There are many who encourage us to divide ourselves from our brothers and sisters, for their own benefit. As long as we’re fighting with each other, they will be selling us weapons to do so.

      That’s how they make the Big Bucks!


  5. Gato,
    Nailed it!……. It is this very thought process that needs to be brought out in the open and given some fresh air. “WE ARE THE PEOPLE” there for “WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT”. Ultimately WE make the decisions with our votes. That does not mean that we always get what we want when we want, but we get to be part of the process.
    Good questions. Very thought provoking.

  6. pelican

     /  February 8, 2013

    Carol, I think you have hit upon something profound about the Digital Revolution going on. It is turning everything upside-down, ala Lewis Carroll. I saw recently that some people were debating whether or not President Obama did or did not go skeet shooting at Camp David, and if the photo showing such was actually photo-shopped. Now this truly seems like a topic fit for discussion at the Mad Hatter ‘s table.

  7. Hi, Pelican – Yeah; there are SO MANY possible topics these days, aren’t there? Great to hear from you – out there in sunny CA, darn it…


  8. Terry Waggle

     /  February 8, 2013

    Carol/Gato- I love your blogs, this one especially hits home right now. As I read it and visualized the armageddon you present it came to me: the aha moment – you’ve got an excellent screenplay here. I’m just trying to figure out who should play me unless you want me to try out for the part. I also have at least two high school “friends” who are so Tea Party it ain’t funny. I’m sure they have all the necessary arms and probably have a bunker fully stocked for any mayhem we might visit upon them.
    Keep up the good work. As an English and Art major I’m envious of what your’re accomplishing here. Also I hope you stay warm and safe as I hear about the next “storm of the century” that is bearing down on your part of the country. – Terry

  9. OB

     /  February 8, 2013

    I often wonder, no, more like muse about, whether the collective wisdom of the world is about truth and love vs. evil and hate……and whether the zealots of the world would be so inclined to be zealots if 1) no one owned or could claim ownership to “the land” and 2) if food and water was plentiful. I really do not like zealous people, whoever they are, and whatever their belief is. Their “enthusiasm” for their way and no one else’s, clouds their visions ( like cataracts) and hijacks their capacity to tell right from wrong, and that my literary friend is more scary than government knocking at my door, That’s dangerous!!

    Read over the last few weeks as the sabre rattling goes on about guns, whether to allow them or disallow ordinary citizens to “bear” them, that there are about an equal number of guns in the USA as there are people……doesn’t that scare you, It sure scares me!!


  10. What a well thought out observation of the lunacy within which we all live! I believe the paranoia that surrounds us all will remain until we truly know, from the depth of our being, the answers to some core questions: Who am I? Who is another? Who are “we” collectively? If we live as if we are separate, then we create more separation. It will take deep wisdom to heal this separation- wisdom that goes beyond opinions driven by fear.

  11. waialeale

     /  March 23, 2013

    Hi Gato,

    It does get “curiosier and curiosier” over at M&H’s, doesn’t it. But you and the others are doing a great job of trying to keep things on an even keel. A couple of tips from an Old Timer. There is a pattern repeated over and over again. When cornered, the trolls get nastier and nastier; insist on getting in the last word and then change the subject. Satire is lost on them so the best “last word” is a good satire.

    Back when the current troll was a practicing physician, he said he had a son who had AD. But he wouldn’t accept the other doctor’s diagnosis or recommendations for medication. (I understand that Asperger’s is a form of AD.)

    Anyway this is a true story you might enjoy. When we lived in PA, my husband and son built a couple of remote controlled toy rockets in the garage. They took them to Valley Forge Park and launched them. That is until the Park Rangers saw them in the sky, came around and chased them off.

    A satirical twist could be that they built them from Atlas Rocket kits obtained from the Convair Division of General Dynamics and both are now qualified as astronauts for the next deep space mission!

    Carry on!

    Aloha! 🙂 Namaste. Shalom. Saalam. Peace.

    Auntie Jean

    Oh, P.S. Do you suppose that’s pot he’s smoking in his pipe in his new avatar?


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