"What more proof do we need?" shouted Caiaphas, as he rent his garments. It's what I feel like shouting when I read that the Mart of Darkness (otherwise known as Wal-mart) has finally won its years long battle with the Forces of Light and will now be able to construct one of their god-awful supercenters of God knows how many square feet on part of the Civil War Wilderness battlefield in Orange County, Virginia. What more proof do we need that this corporation is a soulless animal? What more proof do we need that most Americans are short-sighted blockheads? What more proof do we need that capitalism unrestrained by an imperative for the common good will destroy everything in its path?
The issue is reservation of several hundred acres of hallowed ground. Though not part of the protected Wilderness battlefield, the area where the Wal-Mart is going was part of the actual battlefield, the initial blood bath between Grant and Lee in early May, 1864. Some 29,000 Americans bled into this ground. It should never be dishonored by concrete, traffic, noise, and mouth-breathing Bubbas bent on bargains. But dishonor it we will. The vote by the county's board of supervisors was overwhelming, 4-1. Tell you the truth, I've been surprised that historians and other sane people have been able to stave off this abomination for as long as they have. I know it's been several years. The worst aspect of the store's location is traffic flows. Traffic this new store will generate promises to be fiercely disruptive, especially along the Orange Turnpike, present day Route 20 which cuts straight through the preserved Wilderness land.
The arguments of over 230 historians and other preservationists against this project were unavailing, not in the face of an enemy this big. Guess what the arguments are in favor of this desecration? Ain't hard. There were three principal ones. In no particular order: money, money, and money, i.e., jobs, tax revenue, and cheap shopping. Oh, yeah. Gotta have those low, low everyday prices. Now, it's not as if Wal-Mart can't find another place to put its damn store. No, it's that these people just don't care, least of all about history. This is another of those things that convince me that we're basically a doomed people just playing out the string. Our god is Mammon, a hateful, rapacious deity whom will sacrifice anything to.