Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Defiant Stupidity As an American Birthright

A terrific guitarist with whom I used to be in a band many years ago has turned into a right-wing zealot. Because he’s a great guy, and can take a joke, I sometimes respond to one of his Facebook posts, which in many cases seem based on Rush Limbaugh rants. Sometimes, just to distinguish myself from the many others whose lives seem to revolve around trying, always in vain, to change his mind, I pretend not only to share his views, but to hold even more conservative ones. As a result, a Facebook friend of his who makes Limbaugh look in comparison like Bernie Sanders took the liberty a couple of weeks ago of adding me to his Facebook group, United We Stand.

What a jaw-dropper! You absolutely wouldn’t believe what these people hold to be true! Did you know that Barry Hussein (known to the rest of the world as Barack Obama) isn’t just the bumbling pawn of the corporations we’d reconciled ourselves to his being, but a Stalin-esque dictator who dreamed up the Ebola virus as a way of decimating America’s white population? Well, guess again, libtard! It's later than you think! 

I’m also a member of at least a couple of Palinist groups, comprising (presumably) high-functioning American adults who don’t regard Gov. Palin (as it amuses me to call her) as The Great National Embarrassment, or even as a sanctimonious nincompoop, but as a clear-thinking straight talker with mad leadership skills. Mention the odious George W. Bush to these people, and they start cooing about about how much they miss him, and how much he, unlike his successor, Loves America. (As witness, I guess, his having sent 4500 Americans to pointless deaths in Iraq so he could demonstrate himself manlier and more resolute than his dad. Now that’s patriotism!)

I am writing this the day after the midterm elections, during which the American electorate once again showed itself to be irredeemably stupid. Of course, defiant stupidity, even if they call it something else, is one of the most fervently cherished American birthrights.

You’re quite right. I am feeling very intolerant of stupidity today, having heard this morning how my friend and student Arturo, the sweetest man on earth, continues to get ridiculed at his job as a hospital telephone operator because he speaks with the accent you might expect of someone who grew up in El Salvador, and how my student Arouna, whom I love like a son, is similarly ridiculed at his hospital housekeeping job.

I have advised both to ask their antagonists one simple question, “How many languages do you speak?” My guess is that, if their antagonists aren’t lying sacks of shit, they will say just one — and my guess is that they stick apostrophes in pluralized nouns, write their for they’re and your for you’re, and miss George W. Bush. My further guess is that, with both English and Spanish, Arturo speaks twice as many languages as those who mock him. His written English needs a lot of work, but so did that of a great many of the $65,000/year-to-start associate attorneys whose words I processed when I worked for San Francisco’s biggest fascist law firm in the mid-‘80s. Arouna, meanwhile, speaks not only English and French, but also two dialects of his native West Africa.


I am not hyperbolizing — well, maybe just a little — when I tell you that if I wouldn’t like to strangle my friends' antagonists, I would certainly like to disenfranchise them.

2 comments:

  1. As a language major in college, I spent the better part of three summers in a foreign studies program in Mexico. It was tough sledding the first two times. The third time things magically started to click and I found myself actually becoming conversant in Spanish. Ah, but I still recall with great fondness the countless people who were so patient and helpful when I so often floundered with tongue hopelessly tied, unable to express myself properly. Nary a soul ever laughed at me, especially during my first stay south of the border. Quite the opposite: everyone was so pleased that a fair-haired gringo had come there to learn their language. Why some of us cannot apply this simple human kindness here is beyond me, John.

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