Last night, a certain famous New Yorker — who lives all alone on her own little island — experienced a cosmically representative moment. In the middle of a sudden dinnertime monsoon, the clouds opened above her head and she, the Statue of Liberty, was struck by lightning.
Not one, not two, but four bolts of lightning hit her in dramatic, rapid succession. Around the city and around the country, millions of people thought: “Damn. I can relate to that, Ms. Liberty.” (Mrs.? Lady??) We, as Americans living in 2020, can empathize deeply with the sensation of being pummeled over and over again. And, in a way, this particular event feels perfectly suited to the surreality of the end times that we’re living in. In the past few months, New York’s governor has gifted his beleaguered city with an ugly poster amid a raging pandemic, federal troops have gassed city mayors, and our president has bragged about being able to name five words. It feels as though the universe may decide at any moment that it has simply had enough of our antics, and that it’s time for some smiting. I had the same reaction to seeing the lightning strike Lady Liberty that I had to watching Sean Spicer shimmy in a neon green spandex onesie on Dancing with the Stars — the pervasive sense that I had just seen a powerful omen. To quote Felicity Huffman: “Ruh roh.”
You know, it might have even felt good. The Statue of Liberty might have concluded, as the volts of electric charge ran through her metal toga and down to her huge feet, “This is right.” Perhaps she even felt alive — as alive as she did when she first arrived here, in pieces, from France.
Can one expect, as a big-ass metal object standing hundreds of feet in the air in the middle of a bay, to be struck by a bolt of lightning? Definitely. Does this actually happen many times a year? Yes, it does. Are we going to stop relating to this copper queen? No, of course not.