In the year 2000, Olin Frederick published my first novel, “2006: The Chautauqua Rising.” Word to would-be authors: Use a title that people can pronounce – going forward, “sha-tawk-wa.”
I was prompted to write this article by a review on Amazon last month by a verified purchaser: “I’ve just finished reading this excellent book. Unbelievable, that it was published in 2000 … and here we are in 2022 seeing so much of the dystopian world the author described in his novel unfold before our very eyes!”
The reviewer, whom I do not know, wrote his take on the book before the Uvalde school shooting. As it happens, a major plot twist in “2006” is, in fact, a school shooting.
The plot involves a conservative grassroots uprising in Chautauqua County, New York, the state’s westernmost county. Based on a real incident in Missouri, the fictional attorney general of New York state arrests and imprisons 17 conservative activists for holding a citizens grand jury.
The media approve. Opines the Buffalo Evening News, “Although admittedly two of the Chautauqua 17 were African-Americans, and no specific act of violence could be attributed to the group, this latter-day wild bunch shares many of the same beliefs as America’s neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations.”
The editorial continues, “The man who successfully prosecuted this crew, Attorney General Josh Kennedy, has already developed a reputation among his fellow AGs as the most vigilant pursuer of such extremists in the country. Watch this boy’s future. He’s going places.”
These activists were deeply concerned about the drift of the country especially after the mysterious death of Justice Antonin Scalia then on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade.
The D.C. police ruled the deaths carbon monoxide poisoning. “Rumors soon abounded that the furnace had been tampered with, and talk radio jocks began to demand a fuller investigation. As usual, the outcry was quickly dismissed as right wing conspiracy blather. The FBI was not called in. Congress held no hearings.”
The country took a further left turn in 2004 when Al Gore made “Do It For The Children” his presidential campaign theme. His impressive victory over a Republican ticket headed by John Kasich enabled the Democrats to capture both houses of the Congress.
With no one to stop them, the Democrats pass the omnibus Children’s Defense Act (CDA) of 2005. In addition to federally designed diversity training, the bill mandates schooling with masters level state-certified teachers until a child reached at least 19. The bill essentially puts an end to home schooling, Catholic schooling and, mostly visibly, the Amish schools that dot this heavily Amish County.
The protagonist of the novel, the apolitical TJ Conlon, finds himself being swept into the county’s conservative resistance especially once he learns that his late father, who died a Vince Foster-like death, was the movement’s secret leader.
In the father’s possession was a tape between AG Josh Kennedy and his chief strategist hoping for a “Reichstag” to propel the amoral Kennedy’s career. Given his reputation as the enemy of extremism, Kennedy settles on “guns” as the issue he will ride to the Senate or even the presidency.
When news reports surface of two likely Muslim extremists killing 15 students at a New York City school, Kennedy knows it is his moment.
The novel reads, “As TJ had predicted, terrible as the prediction was, the story started to change perceptibly. The two men at the scene of the ‘St. Matthew’s Massacre’ – as the networks branded the incident complete with identifying music and logo treatment – were no longer of Mideastern origin.”
TJ and his friends “watched in awe and horror, marveling at the ability of some unseen hand to shape the news to its own design like a vase on a pottery wheel. They all knew Josh Kennedy could manipulate the media. They just didn’t how well he could do it.”
Soon afterward, Kennedy holds a press conference to read the communiqué he received from the group that allegedly killed the school kids.
“You can call it responsibility if you like, we call it credit. Too bad there were only 15 of the little lefty scumbags (including the twins in their matching blazers). You put away 17 of ours. But there’s more children out there. We know where to find them.”
This, of course, precipitates a confiscation of guns and a major crackdown on the activists in Chautauqua County. I will not give away any more other than to say that, in fiction, as in life, I believe in happy endings.
“2006: The Chautauqua Rising” is available on Amazon.
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