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Number 23:

Uncle Frank’s Diary
Number Twenty-three

Darker than Black:
The Pod People Prevail

And next election, we can just cut to the chase with a proposal that would require all gays to be tattooed with identifying marks on their foreheads. Or maybe they could be forced to wear pink triangles. There’s an idea for you: Someone should try that.

They look like Americans, but they’re not.

     Not any more, they aren’t. Like the victims of the aliens in Jack Finney’s classic science fiction novel The Body Snatchers, the majority of the American voting public has willingly exchanged its soul for the empty promises of happiness and security proffered by a malignant entity. This entity’s only true objective, like that of Finney’s space invaders, is the expansion of its own power.

     Playing expertly on popular fears and prejudice, relentlessly feeding and stroking the worst attributes of the electorate, the Bush Gang has succeeded in overturning FDR’s noble maxim. They only thing they have to count on is fear itself, and the count came out in their favor.

     My wife and I bought a couple of bottles of Fin du Monde ale the day before the election. For those of you who have sworn off French, that’s “End of the World” ale. We thought it would be a fit beverage for watching the returns. When yesterday evening came, however, we could not bring ourselves to watch. Our gut feeling was that ugliness was afoot. We would not willingly watch it. We went to bed early, the ale untouched.

Looking Bad; Looking Worse

     I tossed and turned, and had bad dreams. At 2:30 a.m., I went downstairs and turned on CNN. Things looked bad. I turned it off, went back to bed, and resumed tossing and turning. At 5:30, I got up and returned to CNN. Things looked worse. Things looked ugly.

     Many years ago I knew a librarian, a head cataloger, who had a bit of a temper on her. On the occasions when she stormed into the periodicals office where I worked as a clerk, we minions did our best to assume poses of subordinate invisibility. She would yank open a drawer in the periodical cardex, glower, and slam the drawer shut again.

     “Shithell&damn!” she would say, and stomp out of the room. She uttered  her trio of  expletives as though they composed a single word. It was one of her favorites. In her memory, I uttered it shortly after 5:30 this morning. It helped, a little, but not much.

     In this election, the only value that finally counted was fear: fear of foreigners, fear of alien religion, and fear of gays. Nothing can stand up to fear when the “leader” urges his followers to be even more afraid than they already are, and convinces them that only he can protect them from the things they fear. Everything else—the environment, the economy, personal health, civil liberties, democracy in America, you name it—is  beside the point. Recognition of this fact, and action on it, gave the Bush campaign an evil brilliance. No appeal to reason could stand up to the fear it sowed.

Fear Factors

     The so-called war on terror, of course, was fear-factor number one. Bush exploited it zealously, but fear of homosexuality appears to have come in a close second. Bush’s remorseless posturing over a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage helped encourage voters in 10 states to approve discriminatory proposals in that vein. Here in Michigan, fearful voters enshrined bigotry in the Michigan constitution. Our proposal’s marvelously vague language can be read to outlaw not only same-sex marriage, but civil unions and health benefits for the same-sex partners of public employees.

     This proud step forward in the annals of our state’s civil rights is the work of ever-energetic “Christians,” led by that happy redoubt of sexual enlightenment, the Catholic Church. The Church, oh precious Jesus, believed that constitutionally-sanctified bigotry would be a swell way to assure the propagation of home, family, zygotes, and all that.

     Oh, there’s celebration in Heaven, now. The cherubim are dancing in glee around God’s foot-stool. And next election, we can just cut to the chase with a proposal that would require all gays to be tattooed with identifying marks on their foreheads. Or maybe they could be forced to wear pink triangles. There’s an idea for you: Someone should try that.

Darker than Black

      The only potentially positive outcome residing in this debacle is that it enhances the possibility that the Bush Gang, like the Nixon administration, will have to face the consequences of its corruption and venality while still in office. Justice couldn’t strike a more deserving bunch—but with the nation tripping over its own feet in its rush to embrace a uniquely American fascism, what are the chances of the public’s showing any sustained interest in holding these crooks and con artists to accounts?

     Who cares about truth and justice when one is busy being afraid? Afraid of foreigners, afraid of other people’s religion, afraid of other countries–(“France is our enemy!”)—afraid of gays, afraid of anyone who isn’t like us.

     I have a clue for these folks: Uncle Frank isn’t like them.

     Neither are many others. One of my librarian colleagues came into my office this morning so distressed about the election that he had tears in his eyes and could barely talk. Another came to work dressed all in black. “If I’d had anything darker than black, I would have worn it,” she said.

     The pod people have spoken.


     That about covers it, don’t you think?

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