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  • Writer's pictureJoia

Today's rhaps is on ... Tommy Smothers

Tommy and Dickie Smothers, 1967

I've been thinking about Tommy Smothers lately. If the hear-no-evil, see-no-evil people in Washington DC are actually hiding their brilliance from the audience so they can feed lines to the straight man, maybe there is a method to this madness.

Tommy, anti-Viet Nam war activist, would set up poor Dickie time and time again, flaunting a mesmerizing stupidity in service of the difficult truths of his day. The lies, the hypocrisy, the danger and damage coming to a democracy losing its way—this was the ultimate message. He who hath ears, let him hear.

Because the truth will out.

It can take a while though, and Tommy and Dickie were shoved off the air for their politically incorrect routines years before the war ended (CBS called it a contract deadline breach).

It's taking a while this time, too. And the stakes are much higher.

I fall for the football trick each damn time, set up with yet more fantastic schemes and corruption, yet more blatant obstruction and miscarriages of justice, hoping that this time, this time, they will be Tommy and blurt out the truth so Dickie can run with it. This time they will say it, this time they will vote for it, this time Don McGahn or John Bolton will finally blurt it all out and expose the Deutsche-Bank-trumpenkushner-money-laundering-Russian-mafia-plot to destroy the US government.

Even the body-snatched Attorney General is darting about like Golyadkin at a Dostoevskian ass-kissing party, promoting or hiding this crime here, that crime there, fussing and fidgeting and slurping his slimy lies all over everyone. A very low Barr, indeed.

This goes far beyond mere cult madness. As Amanda Marcotte puts it so brilliantly*, they want to destroy democracy, they want to roll back civil rights, they hate representative voting. They will do anything to stay in charge. Tommy can do somersaults all around them and it won't matter. They've hitched a ride on a killer despot rocket going all the way.

But the American Revolution! Seriously? They will sacrifice everything? The French Revolution? Liberty and justice for all? These aristocrats will run roughshod over all of this, leaving us in the mud?

Because that's all we've got. Women and people of color, that's all we've got. Without the revolutions and civil rights, we have nothing, we don't own land, we don't get inheritance, we don't vote, we don't get elected, we don't change anything. We're three quarters of the world and this vicious minority will stay in charge.

Sadly, November will not wipe out this horror in the US. The hatred and division will continue regardless of who wins the top spot, the blue team on one side and the red team on the other, glaring at each other like ISIS and the infidels. (Hey, I know—behead them. All of them. Mass-grave them until no one is left. We can put it on YouTube.)

Fighting a cultural war is deadly. The resulting culture of contempt is tossed around like a red badge of courage for people pretending to be a persecuted church when no one is blocking their worship. It's worn like a bright orange vest for hunters pretending to be thwarted when no one is taking their guns. You are free, remember? Oh, you need to take my freedom to feel even freer? Is that it? Freedom doesn't work like that. Even God didn't want forced love from His Creation, remember?

Imagine if as president of International Women in Portugal I had decided that one of our forty cultures had to go. Sure, we're international...except for this culture, the one from the shit-hole country, so the people from Scotland or Italy or Zimbabwe or Suriname are no longer welcome. They are simply unacceptable, their clothes look funny, their food tastes funny, we don't want them at our coffees. Imagine the horror and the hurt.

A cultural war starts with book-burning and window-smashing, sterilizing a few imbeciles and queers—who cares—and ends with live bodies writhing in a pile of corpses, heaved to one side of the road so the victors can build walls and live in pristine supremacy on the other.

The truth will out, in time, but will we be here to hear it?

In the Brothers Karamazov, the dignified Elder Father Zosima dies. Before his saintly body is laid to rest, people from miles around come to pay their last respects. But something odd has happened. The earthly body has begun to deteriorate at an alarming rate, the stench seeping out from the open coffin to those waiting outside. Unbelievable! Unheard of! This cannot happen to the holy remains!

Ideally one of the blind Trumpist followers would regain moral sight, call out the truth, root out the stench seeping from the White House, and the rest of us could return to our pre-threatened lives...well, not likely at this point. So we're waiting for that special Someone to walk off the Nevada debate stage and steer this mess off the cliff, fix this bloody Roman rule and guide us to a better light? Are we saying WWII could have been avoided by calmly waiting for Hitler to be voted out of office?

Putin follows an old playbook, one that says keep the masses confused and powerless, break their spirits with repeated bruising, take away their agency with unpredictability, let them eat chaos, rain an Idlib terror down on them until no one is left.

The truth will out, yes. But who will be here to hear it?

20 FEBRUARY 2020


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