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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Greta And AOC - The Ankle-Biter And The Brown Princess Strutting Their Stuff, But The Man With The Hook Is In The Wings

In the heyday of amateur vaudeville in the 1930s, it was said that managers kept a long hook in the wings to drag off incompetent but stubbornly persistent performers. All of us have gone too long at one time or another – a familiar anecdote about Uncle Harry and the bear; or the time that Jack got his pants caught in the laundry ringer – and some of us have banged on about some idea, some favorite cause or mission; but there always comes a time for the man with hook to reach out and yank us off the stage, punch our tickets and tell us to go on home.

Image result for Images Vaudeville Hook. Size: 304 x 110. Source: oldmilwaukee.net

Old age makes things a lot worse. There are not a few unreconstructed liberals from the Sixties who approaching their ninth decade are still banging on about world peace, the climate, civil injustice, or sexual liberty. One elderly man, Bill M, who had been an acolyte of the Ivy League chaplain who was the first minister to claim white guilt for racial injustice, was still at it – hectoring whomever came within his sights and clattering on ad nauseam about white privilege and the continuing plight of the black man.  

He didn’t stop there, for in the course of his social efforts, he became sensitized to the equally large and indelible problem of climate change and went on the hustings to preach about the coming Armageddon and the need to save the world.

Bill M's blood was so inflamed with these righteous causes that he could not stop there.  Capitalism was at the foundation for all of today’s social and economic ills; and unless the pillars of this outdated, anarchic, and historically feeble ethos, no social progress could be made. A fight against Wall Street and its corporate lackeys was the 21st century’s great crusade.  

While he abhorred the racist imperatives of Pope Urban I, the First Crusade, and the slaughter of innocent Muslims in Jerusalem – a historical disgrace which lives today in the slaughter of equally innocent Palestinians at the hands of Israel – he had to admit that only a crusade, a righteous juggernaut, could take down the capitalist empire.

Image result for Images 50s Monopoly Icon. Size: 136 x 106. Source: getdrawings.com

Unfortunately the younger people who had joined The Movement had had enough of Bill M’s increasingly wobbly rhetoric and outdated, outmoded ideas.  Yes, the problems of climate change, white privilege, and social injustice still remained, but his references to Derrida, Lacan, and Freire let alone his parsing of the most quixotic texts of Engels and Marx made him irrelevant.  He was given the hook, yanked not once but again and again from his pulpit, his lectern, and stage until he finally got the message and retired to Florida.

The young are equally given to causes, inflamed blood, and hammering on about the same old thing, but they are part of an upsurge, a revolutionary modern radicalism which thrives on passion, image, icons, and a good show. Bill M’s generation for all its commitment and  reformist idealism was still a logical one.  It could never completely fly off the handle, make shit up, posture and pose for the sake of media impact, and endorse an ‘ends justify the means’ approach to change. Today’s youth have no such compunction.  They have been bred to take a loud, defiant public stand and damn the consequences.

Greta Thunberg, a young Swedish idealist who had inadvertently sparked national and international interest because she called out the world’s corporate fat cats, looked them in the eye and told them off.  One of her first utterances, made in a basement in Sweden on an old WWII radio transmitter broadcasting on short wave was this:

You pigs are the reason we are choking on bad air, why our rivers, lakes and streams are befouled, why plants shrivel and die in once verdant forests, why birds fall from the trees, and animals shrivel up and die in their lairs.  You are the very embodiment of greed, white arrogant privilege, and male oppression.  You and your kind must be expunged, extirpated, destroyed, and tossed into the dust bin of history

Image result for images hectoring greta thunberg

Greta of course had help with this little speech.  The language was far above her intelligence, education, and ability.  She had tried it out in Swedish, but it turned out like a wicked witch fairy tale, capitalists thrown into ovens and baked and such, so she was advised to give it in English which required considerable help and counsel.  Nevertheless, and no matter who ghostwrote the script, she found a small audience.  A very small one indeed.  The only  people who still listened to short wave anymore were in Latvia, but as fate would have it those Latvians who had heard it were exactly the audience she had hoped for – young, malleable minds with a strong dollop of idealism.

Her fame quickly spread and before long the environmental powers that be approached her and asked her if she would come out of the basement and go on the world stage.  Of course she said yes.  What young girl with lofty ambitions would refuse? Most girls her age were still dressing up in princess outfits, dancing and flitting around with glow-sticks and magic wands.

Image result for images little girls in princess outfits

From then on it was clear sailing.  Her handlers, adept at marketing and product placement, easily found her spots at international conferences.  Her youth was the attraction.  A young person without experience, advanced study, or intellectual foundation but with the remarkable insight about the fate of the world was exactly what the old farts in the EU and UN needed to hear.  So her handlers propped her up, gave her a script and theatrical instructions, wound her up, and let her go.

She was an instant success.  The corporate scions bowed their heads in shame, wrung their hands, and offered acts of contrition.

There is nothing new that can be said about overexposure except that in the full first flush of acclaim, it is hard to shut up.  So Greta’s handlers kept installing her under the lights, and the girl kept banging on, a broken record, nothing new, only more vitriol and hyperbole from her ghost writers.  Before long no one wanted to hear that nasty little girl banging away at them.  “We get it”, the corporate moguls said, “now shut up and go away”.

This of course was surprising for Greta who because or her age had no idea about how the world worked.  She thought she would go on forever, be elected President of Sweden or better, marry well, and so on.  It didn’t happen, and who knows where she is today?

AOC, the brown princess – the Congresswoman from the Bronx, proud of her Latino heritage, her modest circumstances, physical attractiveness, and marvelous oratory – was akin to Greta, the ankle-biter.  Although AOC was older, she was no less drawn in by the allure of fame.  She came of age in a progressive era, and in her constituency there was no dearth of reformist firebrands.  From her tenement stoop she heard nothing but wailing complaints about injustice, the predatory capitalists in Manhattan, and the plight of the underserved.  

No sooner was she out of her First Communion dress than she stood before her vanity mirror and began to recite her own speeches.  She was a natural performer, loved being the center of attention, and given her cute prettiness and her agile mind, she was admired; and it wasn’t long before she was doing a Greta in the East Bronx. 

Image result for images aoc innocent sweet

Everyone on the political Left knows her story and how she came up quickly through the ranks to represent the 14th District; but the rest of America knows her only for her constant banging on about old progressive chestnuts.  ‘Enough already’, they say.  ‘We get it, now get lost'; but AOC, unlike Greta has a seat of power of her own in Congress and cannot be easily dislodged let alone quieted.  She will probably hang on for years; unless of course something better comes along.

For now she is the anointed one, the chosen one, a woman of color who has made the grade and granted the right to speak out on just about anything – that is what ‘inclusivity’ and ‘diversity are all about.  A politically correct identity confers the right to blab about whatever comes to mind.

So it is no surprise that she wants to extend her fifteen minutes of fame.  More than likely the Republicans will regain the House and she and her political sycophants will be shut up by the political process.  Of course she won't keep quiet; it’s just that her rattling on won’t make much of a difference and will be totally ignored once the Republicans regain the White House in 2024.

Greta mercifully got the hook, but in the case of AOC it will be a worse fate – nobody much will pay attention to her any more.

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