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

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Save The Planet! - When The Environmental Circus Came To The 'Hood

Washington has never been a genteel place, but then again neither is America.  Anything goes is the meme for Foggy Bottom and the high plains.  What you see is what you get -  rubes, carny barkers and vaudevillians all out to make a buck from the great American enterprise, democracy. 

Winston Churchill famously remarked, 'Democracy is the worst form of government except for all others', but he never gave the American version a close-up look like Tocqueville did. 'I do not know if the people of the United States would vote for superior men if they ran for office, but there can be no doubt that such men do not run', he said.  

He was far more critical when he wrote:

Having thus taken each citizen in turn in its powerful grasp and shaped him to its will, government then extends its embrace to include the whole of society...It hinders, restrains, enervates, stifles, and stultifies so much that in the end the nation is no more than a flock of timid and hardworking animals with the government as its shepherd.


'Untrue', said the Reverend Isaiah Jackson  'Lies, distortions, verses of ignorance, impossibly naive assumptions', he thundered from the pulpit of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Anacostia, emphatically rejecting the raw individualism inescapably proposed by this foreign interloper and, in the name of community and God, endorsing the activist role of modern government. 

Of course his congregants had no clue what he was talking about.  They were looking for Jesus and their pastor was going off again on points of principle. 'Amen', they responded in unison but without conviction.  They wanted salvation, some sign at least that Jesus was listening not a history lesson. 

'Now, hold on', the Reverend said, noting the restiveness in the congregation. 'I am talking about your right to the wealth of the rich; your entitlement to the fruits of power; your seat at the banquet table; your milk and honey; your...'  

Here he paused for effect and to gather his thoughts.  He had once again tripped over the issue, confusing politics with God. 

Everyone knew that Isaiah's ambition would take him out of the ghetto and into the very halls of power he had called upon for generosity.  This intelligent, eloquent, and persuasive black man would soon leave bling, pimps, and spinners far behind for the corridors of power. 


His point - that government was not enervating but entitling; not stifling but energizing and enabling - was lost in the banging ignorance of a dysfunctional congregation who had not an original idea in their heads, not one iota of ambition to resonate with his black, ghetto voice of righteousness.  Black people were sucking at the tit of government - dependent, bawling babies, and not demanding as their revolutionary right that government cargo ships dock at Anacostia River ports and offload every last container for onward shipping to the neighborhood. 

'Forget Tocqueville', he said to himself, 'and remember Jesus'; but the thought got sidelined as he remembered his long-sought after appointment with the Chief Publicity Officer of the Environmental Action Foundation who had heard of his popularity in the inner city, and hoped to benefit from his charisma to preach about the warming planet, and the 'essentiality' of bold action. 

The Reverend had no interest in environmental causes, but as a good American huckster, he agreed to help however he could. He could sell anything to anyone. 'The President will be there', the Publicity Officer said, 'and he will hear your remarks'. 

'Good', thought Jackson.  Maybe there was a sinecure in the wings. He had no illusions about his recruitment and high-level interest.  The President's gay agenda was off-putting in the 'hood, still a macho-man redoubt, and his transgender endorsement was sure to keep black people away from the polls and even, God forbid, a vote for Donald  Trump.


It was a pre-packaged, comprehensive, all expenses paid trip to political stardom. Pope Francis had urged environmentalism as an expression of a respect for life. One must love life in all its forms, admire God's creation and its bounty, he said.  Of course it was easy enough to see through the transparent cover for the right to life, but Jackson got the picture.  Fold one issue within another for the ideal political taco. 

Every environmental organization in America would be represented at the National Environmental Congress, everyone from the big heavy hitters to the smallest spotted owl, snail darter advocacy group. It would be a jamboree, a political Woodstock.  Anyone who was anyone would be there. 

Isaiah Jackson had been preparing sermons for years, so knew exactly how to ring the right bells at the right time.  Writing his environmental speech on 'God's Will - Divine Right And Human Duty' was a simple matter, especially since the choral parts had already been written. 

'Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war against the deniers, the naysayers, the obstructionists, and the misled' was the most familiar hymn in the liberal prayerbook, the most recited, and the most uplifting, so the table had already been set for his piece de resistance. 

Could he possibly find some supporters from the community? he was asked.  Black faces in other words to fill the front row seats.  Of course he could, and assured the crew of gang bangers and touts he assembled that they would be well remunerated for their effort.  Plenty of 'environmental' money would be theirs to 'restore the neighborhood to its natural state, and to make it compliant with municipal and national standards.  As expected from entitlements, one would be looking how it was spent.  It was walkin' around money just like it had always been. 

Environmentalists are by and large white, so he found himself fawned over and embraced like never before by his progressive sponsors   Why had he not milked this cash cow before?  Why had he toiled for so long in a black vineyard when the choicest vintages were right here in white Washington?

On the day of his speech, everything was as it should be - the boys and girls, young men and women recruited took their seats and looked like the Christian choir the Reverend had trained them to be - tailored suits and narrow ties, frilly lace and sensible shoes, pious looking and sincere.  

Because of the uniqueness of the event - a black preacher from the ghetto addressing an all-white crowd of liberal environmentalists, a first - he was the headline speaker.  Openers paved the way, hectoring, challenging, demanding that the country respond to their pleas for a healthy planet, for happiness, and survival.  The audience was primed and ready for Reverend Jackson. 

'As God is my witness', thundered Isaiah, raising his arms to the sky, 'His will will be done'. All eyes were on him and the auditorium was as quiet as a church. 'But you' shouted Isaiah, pointing out over the crowd, frowning and staring, 'you moral reprobates, you generation of vipers, you hypocrites, you sinners, fat and happy in your petty resolve; you craven, irritable followers; you....'

Here he paused and smiled.  It was time for a moment of Christian generosity, forgiveness, and understanding; and from then on his address was a wonder of magnificent waves and troughs, celestial highs and lows.  When he had finished and thanked the Lord, he was greeted with thunderous applause, worthy of a sitting monarch. 

The President had not tuned in, but the Vice-President had, and she gave, via online feed, familiarly incoherent but nonetheless admiring remarks about the Reverend, 'a notable black man' and the environment 'which needs our attention more than ever before'; and an invitation to the White House was sent to him.  

The rest of the story is predictable.  The Biden White House added to the fawning black love of the big event, offered the Reverend Jackson a position as Special Environmental Envoy To The Inner City, a high six-figure salary, benefits, and a liberal 'travel allowance', walkin' around money to demonstrate the good will of the President, his Administration, and the Democratic Party. 

Isaiah was in his element, happy as a clam, delighted, and enthused.  Now, he thought, the real money will start rolling in. 

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