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  • May 14th, 2020

JOEL IN WONDERLAND

By Joel M. Vance

 

Many years ago, during my one trip across the big water to England, I spent a magical afternoon in the British Museum amid artifacts of history that have shaped the world we live in today. There was the Rosetta Stone that unlocked the secrets of the hieroglyphs in Egyptian tombs. But of all the earth shattering exhibits, two captured my attention more than all the rest.

 

One was the scrawled words to “Yesterday” by the Beatles’ John Lennon, and the other was a water stained page from a manuscript written along a riverbank on a day when it rained and smeared the ink on the words being inscribed there by guy named Charles Dodgson. He became considerably better known as Lewis Carroll, the author of “Alice in Wonderland.” Despite the fact that Dodgson apparently had an unhealthy real life interest in underage girls, his pair of books about a little girl’s adventures in a fantasy world down a rabbit hole and behind a mirror, have captured the spirit, mind, and imagination of readers ever since and will continue to do so on into eternity (if, given the current state of a world, beset by pandemic, unending bloodshed, and bloodthirsty, power mad rulers, there is an eternity in our future).

 

I can easily visualize a modern-day tea party (not Newt Gingrich’s version of political insanity of a few years back but a Trumpian version with Fat Donnie as the screaming, incoherent red Queen, surrounded by such as the Mad Hatter (Stephen Miller), the drowsy, dimwitted Dormouse (Jared Kushner), and the dithering and ever behind the curve white rabbit (Mike pence). All gathered for a brunch of diet Pepsi and cheeseberders. And don’t forget Donald Trump Junior and Eric Trump as Tweedledum and Tweedledumber.

 

Even as Lewis Carroll was speckled by raindrops and energized by imagination, he could never have imagined the fantasies being realized today, far more goofy than anything Alice encountered. I am experiencing a continuing nightmare, epitomized by the sight of the president of the United States co-opting the nation’s monument to Abraham Lincoln to conduct a politically motivated interview with Fox News, while at the same time the Missouri legislature a shallow imitation of Donald Trump’s national psychotic rampage put aside matters of state importance (like the budget, for example) to legalize brass knuckles.

 

As if the issue of brass knuckles weren’t important enough, our Neanderthal state representatives, Republicans all, would like to legalize feral hog hunting, thereby loosing on the state a sort of porcine pandemic to go along with the actuality of coronavirus. It would make sense to me if the gourd heads of the right had made it legal to hunt feral hogs only with brass knuckles. That might weed out a few of the genetically disadvantaged folks who think that the science of wildlife management is better served by them than it is by trained and experienced professionals.

 

But those same folks, when they aren’t encouraging further infestation by rampaging piggies, will be gathering in mobs of well armed protesters against mandated or suggested limits to their imagined right to cloak the countryside with droplets of Covid 19 virus. If they were just infecting each other, I say have at it, but the insidious little microbes are not selective— they nail innocent and guilty alike.

 

So here we are, trapped in a modern society overpopulated by mindless acolytes of Trumpian philosophy, insisting on mythical rights to infect the innocent.

 

I’m currently reading a thriller novel titled “Summit” where one of the characters, perhaps channeling the philosophy of the book’s author, Harry Farthing, says “every time we build a pyre of alternative beliefs and kindle it with anarchy, it always ends up burning with dictatorship and racism.” Doesn’t that sound like what Donald J Trump and his evil minions have tried to create in our country? We have already experienced the ludicrous claim by the Wicked Witch of the West Wing, Kellyanne Conway, that there exists in Trump World “alternative facts” and Trump’s demonstrated aspirations to be a racist dictator are numerous.

 

He is monomaniacally dedicated to building a wall between the United States and Mexico. It consumed his tweet infested life until Covid 19 came along to divert his attention. He’s already tried to shift blame for a worldwide virus to the Democrats and the Obama administration. His hatred of Barack Obama is monumental—fueled by his innate racism, no doubt a legacy from his father Fred who marched with the Ku Klux Klan, and his hatred of anything and anybody who is better than he is.

 

As an example of just how evil this sluggish hell boy is, his Department of Justice, headed by the thuggish butt kisser, William Barr, is suing the century old Sacred Heart orphanage along the US-Mexico border, to grab 68 acres. For this blatant misuse of the government’s eminent domain power, the Trumpies are offering $100 in compensation for their intrusion. As Dana Carvey as the church lady on Saturday Night Live used to say in a syrupy voice, “isn’t that special!”

 

How can any citizen of the United States of America hear the president proclaim that he has been treated worse than any previous president, including Abraham Lincoln, and not go looking for a nearby bush to throw up? Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed by an assassin, you freaking moron! If you think that embarrassing questions asked by reporters about your embarrassing behavior is worse than an assassin’s bullet, you obviously are way beyond the definition of clinically insane.

 

The photo of Trump who forced the closure of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial to everyone but him and two Fox News lapdogs so he could conduct a three-person campaign rally, was absolutely gut wrenching. In my own fantasy world, I visualize that, like a scene from a nineteen fifties fantasy movie, the seated statue of Lincoln, would come to life, rise from the chair in which he is seated, and stomp the fat presidential imposter to oblivion, kind of like squashing a repulsive garden slug.

 

Trump hasn’t yet made a ludicrous claim, currently infesting the Internet and promulgated by conspiracy theorists, but don’t hold your breath that he won’t do it if he thinks he can get away with it (and apparently he thinks he can get away with anything). The claim is that the Bill Gates Foundation has patented coronavirus. It took about 15 seconds to Google that and find that it is as obviously false as you should think it is. Bill and Melinda Gates are among the rare billionaires who have dedicated much of their fortune to humanitarian outlets. Going years back, Bill Gates was warning that the world was in the sights of a pandemic. The New York Times found that there are at least 16,000 Facebook posts and 10 YouTube videos with some 5,000,000 views falsely claiming Gates is responsible for the Covid 19 pandemic. That’s 5,000,000 people who should have been sickened by the execrable claim whether they get sickened by Covid 19 or not.

 

In fact, the Gates Foundation has pledged $250,000,000 toward fighting the pandemic and toward developing and manufacturing a vaccine. Will Trump buy into this ludicrous series of attacks on Bill Gates and his foundation? Don’t count it out— Gates has been critical of The Donald and that’s all it takes to get on his dark side (is there any other side?)

 

For those who are protesting some imagined abrogation of their imaginary rights, I have no sympathy whatsoever. They are willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent people whom they might contaminate, just so they can pursue their normal routine which in all too many cases is dedicated to making trouble for the majority. The attitude of these people was summed up graphically on the front page of our local newspaper a few days ago when the state began tentative steps toward what they foolishly call “normalcy”. The photo was of a man getting a haircut (barbershops were allowed to reopen). He had just come from his job at Capital Region Hospital which just happens to be where our family doctor. and most of the other physicians we’ve had contact with in the last several years are located. So here is a guy whose job mandates that he be in the vicinity of Covid 19 patients and potentially infected surfaces on a daily basis who feels that immediately transporting his possible viral aura to the local barbershop is a peachy keen thing to do.

 

For all I know, the guy’s job is such that his contact with the virus is no more dangerous than anyone else’s, but his attitude certainly makes me a whole lot more wary of him and his like than I already was. As has been pointed out repeatedly, the wearing of a mask in public is not so much protecting you from Covid 19, but protecting others from you spreading it to them. Our president and vice president rely on the defense that they are tested daily—but each has had a close associate test positive in the past several days. Likewise, our governor in Missouri toured the local HyVee grocery store a day after throwing the state open to so-called “normal” activity, not wearing a mask and spewing potentially toxic Covid 19 droplets in every direction. Our leaders are setting a fine example.  “It’s a matter of personal preference,” he told the state’s citizens. My preference is that he be soundly defeated in November.

 

The obvious bottom line to the right wing approach to the coronavirus pandemic is not to curtail the disease, find a solution, or emphasize citizen safety, no matter the cost—but to protect at any cost (the cost being human life) Trump’s reelection campaign. God forbid that we should be deprived of the privilege of enduring four more years with Trump at the helm of state. And I hope God is in a forbidding mood.

 

The increasing frequency of positive Covid 19 tests on members of Trump’s and Pense’s immediate staff is beginning to give the appearance of a noose tightening. The two Bumblers in Chief have to be feeling the heat of retribution for their incompetence. It’s inhumane to wish pestilence on anyone but, damn, it’s sure tempting.

 

But for those who protest because they have been laid off or fired or otherwise prevented from making a decent living—in many cases enough of a living just to keep living, it’s impossible not to be sympathetic. The so-called stimulus checks are Band-Aids on a horrendous wound, a temporary fix to an insurmountable problem. In fact, I have yet to get mine and I suspect I never will, but so what—I have given it already to candidates who are pledged to defeat the Evil Empire of Donald J Trump and those who worship him. I can’t vote against Lindsey Graham or Mitch McConnell, but I sure as hell can give money to the people running against them and devote my evening prayers to the possibility that deadly duo and those who think like them will be sent back to the political sewage system that spawned them.

 

Charles Dodgson seemed like an amiable enough chap, certainly talented enough as a writer to have created several works that have endured for a century and a half, but there are several parallels between him and Donald J Trump that give one pause. There is a photo of Dodgson kissing 11 year old Alice Liddell, who supposedly was the model and inspiration for the fictional Alice. There is an almost identical photo of Donald J Trump kissing his daughter, Ivanka. Dodson allegedly proposed to the 11-year-old and had a lifelong fascination with underage girls—to the point that he, who became an accomplished photographer, took many nude photographs of them. Fat Donnie has said publicly that if Ivanka weren’t his daughter he’d probably be dating her..

 

Dodson was a political conservative, like Trump professes to be, but certainly was without the ability or the power to destroy his home country. Of those two exhibits at the British Museum, while I cherish the sight of the raindrop-battered page from the manuscript of “Alice in Wonderland” I think I’ll stick with the prophetic message of the Beatles “Yesterday”.

 

                                “Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away/

                                Now it looks as though they’re here to stay/

                                Oh, I believe in yesterday”

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