I wonder about people who can’t laugh at themselves. Do they see laughter, wherever it’s directed, as an insult? The more seriously one takes one’s self, the more frequently one will feel insulted.
No matter who wins the November election, we’ll have two presidents in a row who will be the most despised, arguably, in our history.
Whether or not the hatred is justified (and if D. Trump wins, it sure as hell will be) it’s a damned shame our holy land is so filled with odium in this 21st Century.
I was thinking about this because I was imagining Donald T. winning. I’d feel alienated from my own country. I’d be tempted to say “He’s not my president!” I’d be loath to read a newspaper, turn on the radio, or go online. Simply hearing or reading the words “President Trump” would turn my stomach. I’d be embarrassed to be an American.
Then it hit me — that’s precisely what millions of people have thought about the presidency of one Barack H. Obama.
Now nine-tenths of them are full of holy horseshit when they say their abhorrence of BHO is not based, at least partly, on racism. I’ll give you 10 percent who detest him for his policies alone — even though he’s as centrist as any of our last 11 presidents since the end of World War II. I mean, nobody really hates vanilla, do they? Alright, one of ten.
The descent of America into a culture of hate really began with the 1964 election pitting Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater. Before that, the contests between Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey, Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson, and even John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon had been horse races people might have felt passionately about but they weren’t certain that if the other guy won, America would automatically and immediately become Hitler’s Germany redux.
In a sense, no matter who would have won in ’64, the losing side felt their nation would be slipping away. Goldwater was an unapologetic radical conservative. “I would remind you,’ he told the cheering throng at the Republican National Convention that summer, “that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” Johnson, the victor, gave us the Great Society and the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. None of those three gifts were surprise packages. “Freedom,” he said, “is not enough.”
Hardcore Republicans despised Johnson and his liberal policies.
But that was just the start. By 1968, when Nixon had settled upon his Southern Strategy and welcomed disenchanted Democratic segregationists into the Republican Party, the battle lines had been drawn. This was war — cultural war, racial war, class war, and any other kind of war the citizenry felt like fighting. As long as the other side could be portrayed as an enemy, Nixon knew he had voters right where he wanted them. In war, the combatants must hate each other. Hatred is a powerful motivator. If it can spur men to don battle fatigues and risk their own lives for the purpose of taking those of the other country’s, then it surely can get people off their sofas on a November Tuesday.
Now, hatred is ingrained in our political discourse. If Bernie’s your guy, you must hate Hillary. If Hillary’s your dame, you must hate Trump. If Trump’s your orangutan, you must hate everybody who isn’t you.
I like to think my own hatred of Donald Trump is indeed justified. I figure I have to hate him to remain true to my own morality. I only wish the other side had offered a nice, moderately unlikeable opponent, someone like Bob Dole or Mitt Romney. This hatred can’t be doing me any good.
I know for a fact it isn’t doing America any good.
June 29th Birthdays
Julia Lathrop — The first female to lead a US federal government bureau, she was named director of the United States Children’s Bureau in 1912. Before that, she’d worked with Jane Addams at Chicago’s Hull House. With Addams and other Hull House women, Lathrop lobbied for Congress to enact legislation for the protection of children. As head of the Children’s Bureau, she directed it toward a scientific approach to studying and solving the problems of child labor, infant mortality, maternal mortality, juvenile delinquency, and many others.
Harry Frazee — Perhaps the most detested man in Boston for most of the 20th Century. A theatrical producer as well as owner of baseball’s Boston Red Sox, he sold a young pitcher/slugger named Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees the day after Christmas, 1919. Legend has it Frazee sold Ruth in order to finance his production of the musical No, No Nanette but that’s not true (even though Frazee did bankroll the play). Frazee dumped Ruth for many reasons, not the least of which was the Bambino’s predilections for food gorging, staying out all night drinking, and sleeping with pretty much every woman he could lay his hands on.
Bernard Herrmann — My favorite movie composer of all time. Herrmann’s triumphant film scores include North by Northwest, Psycho, The Day the Earth Stood Still (the original), and Taxi Driver. His screeching violins accompanying the shower scene in Psycho remain to this day the iconic sounds of horror.
Slim Pickens — Born Louis Burton Lindley, Jr., a rodeo cowboy who gained fame as a film and TV actor, he famously rode a thermonuclear weapon out the bomb bay of his B-52 while waving his ten-gallon hat and yelling Wa-hoo! at the end of the movie Dr. Strangelove….
Oriana Fallaci — Italian journalist known for her extremely personal interview style. She interviewed dozens of world leaders including Henry Kissinger, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, the Shah of Iran, Lech Walesa, and many others. Her interview with the Ayotollah Khomeini was notable for her confronting him about the place of women in fundamentalist Islam:
Fallaci: I still have to ask you a lot of things. About the “chador”, for example, which I was obliged to wear to come and interview you, and which you impose on Iranian women…. I am not only referring to the dress but to what it represents, I mean the apartheid Iranian women have been forced into after the revolution. They cannot study at the university with men, they cannot work with men, they cannot swim in the sea or in a swimming-pool with men. They have to do everything separately, wearing their “chador.” By the way, how can you swim wearing a “chador”?
Kohmeini: None of this concerns you, our customs do not concern you. If you don’t like the Islamic dress you are not obliged to wear it, since it is for young women and respectable ladies.
Fallaci: This is very kind of you, Imam, since you tell me that, I’m going to immediately rid myself of this stupid medieval rag. There!
Little Eva — Born Eva Narcissus Boyd, she did the Loco-motion.