1000 Words: We May Be Dumb, But We’re Not Stupid

We’re not stupid. We have brains in our heads and, every once in a while, we use them. We can be fooled, sure. But some scams, some bunk, are so over the top that we’re immune to them.

By we, I mean the liberals, the progressives, and even a few staunch Democrats, for pity’s sake. My we.

As I say, we’ve bought into bullshit before. “Defund the Police,” for one thing. The dumbest most ineffective, most guaranteed to lose us whatever support we’d hoped to gain in America’s heartland (itself a pie-in-the-sky aspiration) slogan ever conjured. The idea behind it made sense: the police are asked to do too much and we ought to devote more resources to mental health crisis professionals, substance abuse emergency responders, and conflict resolution experts to help the cops when they’re confronted by the stoned, the deranged, and the irrational among the citizenry. Defund the Police conveyed none of that message. The only thing Ma and Pa Iowa or Arkansas thought when they heard those three words was, Let’s get rid of the police.

Now any pols who even once uttered that inane slogan are running from it as though from a rabid dog. “What,” they say, baffled, “I said that? Naw! I musta been misquoted.” A prime example: the newly elected mayor of Chicago, Brandon Johnson, who deftly two-stepped away from his earlier support for Defund the Police and was able to win out over his Law and Order opponent.

So, we’re not perfect but we’re not altogether credulous (like members of a certain former president’s idolatrous cult are). That’s why the given rationale behind the Tennessee legislature’s ouster of two of its members yesterday ain’t gonna fool a’one of us. State representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were kicked out of the august Nashville chamber they’d been duly elected to for staging a raucous protest against the southern state’s masturbatorial love affair with guns. After three adults and three kids were gunned down in a Tennessee school the other day, the legislature reaffirmed its commitment to protect the “right” of any and all citizens to possess weapons of war regardless of certain psychological red flags they may already have displayed rather than safeguard a few kids’ lives.

Jones and Pearson led a chanting group of protesters in the statehouse, decrying the legislature’s inaction on sane gun laws. They used a bullhorn to address the room. The protesters made a lot of noise, cried out Shame, shame, shame, and then left the chamber. There was no riot. There was no violence. Nobody died or was injured. Nobody took over any legislators’ offices, defaced paintings and statues, or even took shits on the edifice’s marble floors — all of which happened elsewhere on January 6th, 2021.

Another January 6th? [ABC News video screenshot]

I bring that date up because one of the leaders of the group of majority Republicans who voted Jones and Pearson out of their seats said his party did so because they were afraid the protest was turning into another January 6th.

Jones and Pearson were joined in the protest by a third state representative, Gloria Johnson. She was not ousted by the legislature, although the vote on her expulsion was close.

Gloria Johnson, natch, is white.

She’s not fooled either. When reporters asked her why she’d been spared while Jones and Pearson were not, she replied, sarcastically, “It may have to do with the color of our skin.”

Jones and Pearson were ousted because they are young, troublemaking black men. Period. Gloria Johnson isn’t troublemaking. Perhaps she’s disruptive, an okay way of making waves that’s so valued in the business world these days. In fact, that aforementioned former president is a noted “disrupter.”

Whenever young black men break a rule, it’s a sure sign they’re about to go wild and tear society apart. That’s a lesson passed down by slave masters from two hundred years ago. That’s traditional lore held dear in places like Tennessee.

The mob, the thousands of people who stormed the United States Capitol on January 6th, 2021, hoping to overturn the presidential election, crying out for blood, calling for the neck of Vice President Mike Pence and others, a certain revisionist faux-historian now claims, weren’t really troublemakers. Why they were simply passionate participants in good-natured public give-and-take. They were no more dangerous than a couple of guys sitting on barstools arguing over who’ll win next year’s Super Bowl. One Republican congressperson even compared the January 6th riot to a “normal tourist visit.”

Which takes the wind out of that Tennessee Republican who said Jones and Pearson’s ousters were necessary lest the statehouse protest devolve into something akin to January 6th.

What? A normal tourist visit?

These Republicans had better get their stories straight.

These logical inconsistencies remind my of the bar-room spat I had with a Kentucky good-old-boy back around the time the Tea Party was making news. The real danger facing America, he yelled, comes from the goddamned liberals. “They are the most selfish people around,” he hollered.

“Selfish?” I countered. (And, yes, I was yelling too — something I’ve long ago stopped doing when arguing with a member of the Right. In fact, I’ve flat-out stopped arguing with that ilk, period. No sense giving myself a concussion by banging my head against that brick wall). “I thought liberals were supposed to be sob-sisters and weaklings. Nursemaids. Nannies. You’d better get your stereotype straight!”

I didn’t win that argument, of course. People don’t win arguments anymore. Facts be damned.

I wouldn’t win any argument against that Tennessee Republican by pointing out January 6th was supposed to be nothing more dangerous than a school field trip.

Donald Trump may or may not retain his vise grip on the Republican Party as we near the 2024 presidential campaign. Even if he does, he’ll still play second fiddle to the man who penned these lines:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather Scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

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