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"this Is America Dude"

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at was about a year ago, late at night, in what used to be a nice neighborhood at South and East University streets. The convenience store gaped kJiotically and I wandered in, feeling for all the worid likeone of those nocturnal cockroaches which live in the masonry of the older buildings on central campus. I was infiltrating! All I wanted was cigarettes, Canadian cigarettes. And this store had only American brands. It's not veryfarfrom hereto Windsor, and Canadian smokes are sold at party stores and gas stations all over Ann Arbor, but not at this 24 hour pit stop. Not on your life. Naturally, I was unable to simply walk out I had to lecture the cashier on the difference between American smokes and imported brands, describing how a Winston lite is so rank it's like smoking one of those underwater fuses, because of the saltpeter they use. What's the difference between saltpeter in your smokes and saltpeter administered to the inmates in Kesey's "One Flew Over The Cuckco's Nest"? We the people are forever being dosed. It's the same principie. But you cant talk principie to someone working nights at Dairy Mart. In fact this cashier responded bri IliantJy by saying "This Is America, Dude," even as hé rang up the next customer's twelve pack of Molson Canadian Beer. Yes it's America all right And I cannot take anything lightiy anymore, even assuming that I ever could bef ore. Times are strange and scary. So then I ended up in the One North stacks of the Grad Librairy named for alleged red-baiter Harlan Hatcher, and I bumped into all these transcriptsfrom the House Committee on Unamerican Activi ties, the real inquisitional poop. Particulariy moving wasa history of the trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. And the sad reflections of their orphaned sons. How grim the remnants, and how insulting the recent cable TV regurgitaron of the official condemnation of these two humans who died in the electric chair because they woukJ not lie even to live. For many of us, this kind of atrocity never fades. It follows us around and gets into ourvery lungs, lingering much like bronchitis, exhaustingly painful and miserably virulent I could give up smoking, but how does one give up a c onscience ? Are some of us growing up devoid of conscience? And prancingly proud of it? The politie al climate on campus has been rubbing my nerves raw for some time now. There's the College Republicans, whose fliers appear regulariy with the slogan "God, Country, Family" leering out at us. These people are j ust young and yes naive enough to be suckered in by the f abulous lies of flashy right wingers. Is this the new right? And whafs right, exactly? What's left? It can't be right to use the word "right" to describe the removal of inalienable rights. "Right" is the wrong word for it And the gall of them to use the phrase "Politically Correct" to label dogmas and systems of belief with which they disagree. As if the "right" has no set of "correct" beliefs which must not be violated. As if the "right" doesnt constrict and limit Have you seen some of the fliers these kids piaster up in the hallways of their university? The notoriously worded: "WANT TO CURE AIDS? TRYMORAUTY" Most endearing. And sickly quotations from the likes of Patrick J. Buchanan: "Morality isthe basis of law." Or malignant old President Calvin Coolidge who apparentJy said, "Men do not make laws, they do but discover them." Yes, that's right; we didn't enact prohibrtion, we simply discovered how to deny millions of Americans their right to imbibe. And so it came to pass that we discovered that if you restrict access to Rquor, they will drink lacquer. That's worth remembéring, kids. We did but discover it Then there was the startling Reagan revisionist propaganda, where lies were spackled across fliers for weeks at a stretch. The silliest slogan from this series of insulting posters was "President Reagan: A Servant Of The Poor." Now, anybody who lived through the years 1 980-1 988 knows that Reagan was anything but a servant to the poor! It's like a bad dream, and we could swear that we're awake, but they keep spouting this nonsensical garbage, and l'm getting feverishty frightened. The lie rears up and snaps its jaws! All of this horseshit was dished out as a preambtetoabirthdaycelebration for Reagan which U.S.senatorial candidate Bill Anderson presided over on the U-M Diag. A few weeks later theirguest of honor was the publisherof USAToday. I wishthey'd bring Barry Gold water to speak; he's almost certainly the one remaining conservative left to us. He at least occasionally makes sense. The Michigan Review, like the Dartmouth Review, is a slimy offshoot of the National Review. The one consistent tendency of all such Reviews is rudeness and brain-cramping hatefulness. They make statements along the lines of: Nazis are really leftists because there called National Socialists. Obviously, the key word is "National"; natkxialism is deadly and history proves it. But the Michigan Review gleef ui ly publishes such rhetoric without any hesitation. Their arrogance is astonishing, the framework skewed. The other day I was walking through the lobby between Mason Hall and Haven Hall which is called the Fishbowl. Student groups often sell coffee, donuts and bagels in this area But one must be careful to ask which organization is selling the stuff. Sure enough, I came perilously close to supporting the Michigan Review. They had no sign identifying themselves, so I made one forthem! I also asked why they were having a bake sale; did William F. Buckley's check bounce? One of the bright young things sneered and made some sortof facetkxis re mark, and asked if l'd like to contribute to their organization. Not likely, I replied. The I Ching, China's ancient Book of Changes, favors the phrase "No Blame." I would very much like to steer by that advice, but it's getting nearly impossibJe. Richard Nixon appeared on cable televisión, celebrating the twentieth anniversary of his inaugura - tkxi. Kissinger stuttered atribute; Ge raid Ford blinked and moaned, lobotomized. Nixon tried to speak coherently. Patted himself on the back for framing Alger Hiss. Didn'tmentiontheRosenbergs.headsshaven, publicly barbecued. Didn't mention Helen Gahagan Douglas whom he smeared as a pinko when squaring off with her in an etection. America perfected napalm by dropping it on Koreans; Nixon rained it down on several small countries at once. I snarled at the televisión. Seethed! Behekd Nixon, somehow absolved of his many crimes, standing under a sign which read PEACE AND FREEDOM. My head began to spin. I gritted my teeth. Remembered in 1 970 my brother huriing a raw egg at Nixon's talking head on a black and white TV, how the egg smashed on Nixon'sforehead anddri bb led down theglass of the cathode horror to nestle just above Nixon's necktie. He re I was, trap ped in front of a mass murderer, and there weren t any eggs in the ref rigerator. What to do? I howled. Invoked the spirits of the Rosenbergs, of Salvador Allende, of Pablo Neruda, of Veter Jara Saw again the flaming jungles of Southeast Asia I said there is bbod under your fingernails, sir. Then the telecast ended and I sat down hard on the floor in a daze. Apotogized to my friend for t hrowing a screaming rage in herapartment. She smiled and said not at all Wulfie, I like it when you get this way.


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