"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Trump, Biden, And The Rooting Out Of Evil–A Very American Folly

It was absolute, unalloyed, hilarious fun to watch the Donald Trump Show for four years, and many of those who so badly wanted him out of office are now sorry he is gone.  The marvelous vaudevillian stage is empty.  The circus sideshow closed.  A dour, distracted, morally confused, philosophically errant Joe Biden has taken the concession and turned it into a storefront church.  

The glitzy, glamourous runways of Las Vegas dismantled, the sexual hijinks a thing of the past.  Trump was a bombastic lion tamer, a clown, and a ringleader. A once in a lifetime star performer.  A grandmaster, a popular hero, Borscht Belt, Carnegie Deli, barroom, barnyard humor comedian.   

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Yet, said his progressive bear baiters and baying hounds, he was evil.  Not just evil, but the incarnation of evil, the Devil himself, demons, warlocks, ghouls, and flesh-eating zombies all rolled into one.

Americans feel they have a nose for evil, and once on the scent, bay like bloodhounds until they have found its lair. Given the insidious, pernicious, and universal evil today, Auschwitz, the Nazi holocaust, Pol Pot and the Year One, Stalin’s gulags and Mao’s labor camps are but historical backdrops, too complicated to understand, easier to acknowledge and forget, and ultimately unimportant.  Racism, misogyny, and homophobia while less murderous, are no less pernicious and dangerous, say today's progressives.   If bigots were to have their way, then America would soon become the devil’s playground, a romper room for hideous, unconscionable acts.

Not only was Donald Trump evil, claim these moral exorcists, but he spread his perversion like spawn.  His evil offspring are now everywhere – in every political holler, backwater, swamp, bayou, and redwood enclave – and these foul places must be cleansed, maliciousness and hatred excavated, and meanness and political torture banned.

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Of course, this is all a charade, a feel-good exercise in moral bonhomie.  Donald Trump was not evil but a willful, ambitious, imperturbably determined man who had made his bones on the meanest streets of America and saw the presidency as the last, crowing step in his great burlesque cavalcade.  His flippant remarks, his political incorrectness, and his absolute refusal to be cowed by those who had never been bruised and torched in battle, drove his opponents to distraction, not only because they had been singled out, but because the man had refused to see the rightness of their ways.  He was dark and despicable, and could see no light.

All of which added to the melodrama, Punch and Judy, grand guignol, big tent atmosphere of the Trump years. Without antagonists, bitchy, vindictive, righteous naysayers, his circus act would be a dud, refunds demanded, and flaps to the tent closed.  It was a grand old time, watching Trump and his arm candy coterie, all glitz and glitter, feathers and gilt, strut their stuff on the Washington stage – a stage only known for actors in baggy suits and dowdy wives.  An airless, dismal place of predictable trickery and venality.

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In comes Donald Trump in his Las Vegas finery, Il Duce looks, and total indifference to the eye-shaded bureaucrats and failed patriot wannabees on Capitol Hill, and the entire Establishment gets twisted and hysterical.

The progressive Left has always been exercised about ‘evil’ and evil doings.  Richard Nixon, they claimed, was dark and unprincipled, a liar, cheat, and bully.  Watergate was not simply the stock in trade of palace intrigues, but the worst expression of an immoral man worthy only of burning at the stake.   Ronald Reagan’s determined rescue of a conservative nation far too long in the grip of socialism was spitefully challenged by the Left – an evil, destructive, inhumane rejection of the poor, the marginalized, the minorities; a reversion to Robber Baron laissez-faire capitalism, and corporate greed.

Now, with Trump gone, hated conservative shibboleths removed, and with nothing to fuel their fires, progressives have turned to history to vent their anger and restate their principles.  Statues of Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Washington, and Adams have come down, racist slaveowners all, pigs more deserving of faces in the mud than wreaths and accolades.

These men were evil because they subscribed to a system which was the embodiment of human iniquity.  Slavery was an unforgiveable crime against humanity, no different than Nazi death camps or Soviet gulags. 

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It felt good once and for all to spew the social hatred that had been brewing for decades, and only partially acquitted during the Trump years.  Not only were these dead white men legitimate targets for righteous anger, one would not have to listen to their lame, self-serving justifications.  Slavery is as old as the hills practiced by the greatest civilizations the world has known, and repeated by the least.  Rome, Greece, Persia, Ghana, and India practiced slavery without a second thought. Moral exclusivity is cherry picking and myopic, they would have said, so better that their ignorant voices be muted by our censure.

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The progressive movement is indeed an inclusive one and within its own logic, quite rational.  For those who have have seen the nature of good and evil as perfectly clear and unobscured by codicils or interpretation as progressives have, Utopia is possible, definable, and reachable. The confrontation with evil, doing battle, and defeating it are only precursors to the establishment of a spiritual, moral reward.  

For all others, this is preachy nonsense.  Politicians ipso facto cannot be evil.  They are too immured within electoral walls.  They cannot see beyond their next term, and will do anything in their power to secure it.  They will all lie, deceive, cheat, cut corners, trick, and manipulate; but the very worst of them are far from Hess, Goebbels, Goering, and Eichmann.

They are pussycats, capable only of a bit of bad boy antics here and there, a few fingers in the cookie jar, some whoopee on the side; but evil? That is a loud barking up the wrong tree.  And there is no more such thing as absolute, irremediable, innate evil as there is absolute good.  Systemic violence or a Margaret Mead Trobriand Islanders goodness are both fictions.

Conservatives watch with glee as progressives self-destruct.  The more statues toppled, Critical Race Theory instituted, Black Lives Matter mayhem tolerated, taxes increased, profligate spending encouraged, the greater the chances of Republican victory next year and in 2024.  ‘Let ‘em rant’, Trump says.  ‘Gotta love it.’

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