As American cities burn and monuments to Jefferson, Washington and Roosevelt fall from their pedestals, as police are assassinated and books are burned by the raging mob, Mayor Will Lee, the hitherto colorless Mayor of Fort Bragg, California, took the occasion of the regular meeting of the City Council to welcome the woke revolution to the city of Fort Bragg — just in time for the election.
Our smiling, policy-devoid Mayor has discovered his purpose in governance. Monday night, Will Lee emerged from his customary muttering incoherence to demand that the city of Fort Bragg change its name.
Fort Bragg is named after a slaveholding rotten old Confederate. The Mayor has been told by hundreds of social justice advocates that it is high time that we got over it. In this moment of grave historical crisis, our little coastal city has discovered that Will Lee is not limited to being incompetent, vindictive and petty.
In a stunning overnight transformation, the least effective mayor in our history has become our ideological leader. I must say he took to the role. It was an unusually effective performance.
Will Lee rolled the city council up and dropped them like bowling pins. By the end of the meeting, every member of the City Council took a stand for the eradication of local historical memory. Not one councilor was willing to stand against the name change. Every councilperson bought into the Mayor's call for general self-abasement and voluntary self re-education.
Councilor Jessica Morsell-Haye was avidly enthusiastic about the initiation of a protracted heart-searching community conversation.
But the whole council was into it — the profound soul-destroying racism that eats at the core of every (white) citizen of Fort Bragg. It must be wrestled into the light and exposed by the self-appointed purity police.
The mayor made it clear that if you are white, it is your solemn duty to confess your racism — even if you ignorantly thought you did not have any.
And of course, the city of Fort Bragg must be renamed. Otherwise, the long line of speakers gravely informed us, the KKK and white supremacy sympathizers will flock to the city and decent people and their tourist money will shun us for our inhumanity.
Before the evening's main event, Councilman Bernie Norvell and Police Chief John Naulty took center stage to announce that the Fort Bragg police will be conducting more thorough background checks of candidates for the Police Department.
It was a statement of leadership and apt to the moment. Naturally, in the wider discussion of race guilt and repentance, it did not get that much traction and Mayor Lee sat silent and glowering waiting for his moment.
Then Mayor Will Lee got down to the name-changing business and rallied what was an unassailable voting block of politically correct social justice advocates to strike at the evil heart of our community's heinous and deep-rooted racism.
The heavily masked and socially distanced council allowed nine citizens (at a time) inside the building and reserved four seats for the press — NBC, the Associated Press, KQED and the Press Democrat were supposed to be there but were no-shows. I got one of their seats. Mistake. The action was outside Town Hall where the meeting inside was blasted from speakers and Scott Menzies rallied a giddy crowd of millennial social warriors banging their tom-toms and cheering.
Mayor Lee allowed two minutes for every speaker.
But first, by his mayoral authority, brought to the head of the line were two representatives of the local Pomo Indians to speak as long as they wanted.
Somewhat awkwardly, the tribal spokesperson OPPOSED changing the name of the city. Appeasing white guilt was not on his agenda — but the mayor listened with rapt attention and duly bowed and complimented and promised the guy a seat at the table as a spokesman for Indian sensibilities.
The guy seemed disgusted. I would have been.
A long line of politically correct, race-baiting social reformers (with their deep self-awareness) filed one-by-one up to the microphone and hammered on the importance of changing the city's name.
A few citizens opposed it. They spoke with dignity and a strangely muted passion like quiet voices of reason in the midst of a storm — while outside the mostly millennial crowd and their elderly boosters followed every word of the guilt peddlers and clapped and shouted mostly at the right times.
By the end of the meeting, the social justice reformers had outnumbered and out-guilted everybody. By the end of the evening, the Fort Bragg City Council was totally cowed and compliant.
Even Vice Mayor Bernie Norvell cut bait and signed on to the social justice political movement with a creative and cowardly suggestion that we keep the name, but pretend that we are now referencing a more palatable Mr. Bragg. Bernie reminded us that there are other, better, Braggs than the one we got stuck with, and we should all just jilt the rascal and move on with a nicer Bragg if we can find one.
With the possible exception of Bernie, both sides knew there was a lot at stake. The nation might not be watching now, but if little Fort Bragg changes its name it would be the perfect complement to the more violent destruction of public monuments burning buildings and random beatings.
Locally, it will no doubt teach the independent-minded Fort Bragg a little much-needed obedience. Will Lee is putting the historically independent, politically engaged city back in the box of political correctness.
And Monday night the crowd of self-hating white kids was big enough to make it look like victory.
I guess it was.