Beautiful prose can only do so much. Ultimately, only ugly facts will turn California around, and VDH is too much of a gentleman (and social liberal) to be entirely candid.
And he still seems in denial; his columns about California are always presenting “warnings of things to come” — in the form of horrible incidents that are going on right this minute, right in his face.
That “cry-the-beloved” line is an allusion to Alan Paton’s now mostly unread novel about South Africa. But my thoughts strayed further north, to the white farmers in post-independence Zimbabwe. First, you get some oddly determined visitors and attendant burglaries. Then, the intimidation gets ratcheted up. Your farmhands get beaten. The local authorities take down the details and do nothing. Then you or your wife and kids get beaten, or shot. You sell your land for a fraction of what you would have got a few years earlier. And, if you don’t, you get driven off it anyway. Or killed.
White Rhodesians were the planet’s favorite pariahs for a long time, so nobody cares what happens to them. But it’s strange to see the same scenario starting to play out in the Golden State – and in parts of Arizona, too. Where next? Texas? Border immigration on the scale of the south-west is not about people moving but about borders moving. Less enlightened regions of the world understand this as they understand the sun rising in the morning, but it all seems too complicated for Californian sophisticates.