I see the arc of history as moving on a pendulum that tragically can never settle at some point or time where reason, good will and stability are the norms. A pendulum by definition must swing, back and forth, and sadly it always swings too far in either direction.
I am a progressive, one seeking logical and moral consistency, and hence I depart from certain progressive goals and aspirations. So please allow me to advocate for the Devil with a critical analysis of recent trends from an oppositional point of view. Case in point: the cleansing of the landscape, both geographic and psychic, of all things Confederate.
I’m all in for removing the Confederate flag from public lands and buildings, as well as statues that glorify the “heroes” of the Confederacy. But the pendulum continues its excessive, inexorable swing.
More recently, there is a growing movement to purge any and all things of names suggestive of those ruddy secessionist lads in grey. Were they traitors? Sure. Should they be honored? No. Should all memory of them outside of history books be lobotomized from society? Again, no.
There is a move to rename all U.S. forts that bear the names of Confederate generals (Benning, Bragg, Beauregard, Pickett et al). I am not necessarily opposed to this, but what less offensive and more palatable names should replace them? Northern generals? And what if we screw up and twenty years hence it is discovered that one of these Northern generals was a war criminal who massacred an entire town of civilians? It’s not like it’s never happened before. Then what? Another renaming? Something benign and innocuous like Fort Fred Rogers? And what if something lurid and unspeakable is discovered about Mr. R, and even he falls out of favor with forever evolving mores? And so it goes, ad infinitum.
But allow me to stray from moral considerations and venture into cost analysis. It doesn’t stop with forts. The purge is inclusive of universities, grammar schools, parks, municipal buildings, as well as entire cities, streets, lanes, boulevards and the occasional cul de sac. The sheer volume of places named after Stonewall Jackson, Jeff Davis and Bobby Lee staggers the imagination. Idea. A silver lining. The painting over the old names and the painting on the new could become a latter day W.P.A. project, employing millions and thus making America solvent again!
But we have not reached our logical and consistent conclusion. Here it is: George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were two of the largest slave owners (or planters, as they preferred to be called) in the colonies. Yes my fellow Americans, in the spirit of moral and logical consistency, we must sand blast away half of MT. Rushmore!
And now, as the flames of Devil’s advocacy are stoked and about to consume me, I segue to diversity.
Of late, there has been much buzz about Daniel Craig’s eventual successor as James Bond.
I was weaned on James Bond. For me , Sean Connery is the first and only true imbiber of the shaken, not stirred, vodka martini and deliverer of the post homicidal quip. So be tolerant if I resist 007 revisionism.
First of all, how can there even be a James Bond today? In the throes of the Me Too era, it’s problematic to retain the original Bond essence, what with buxom sex object women with names like Pussy Galore who enjoy a good roughing from the Queen Mother’s suave assassin. Could the next James Bond be a Black man? Sure. Idris Elba would be perfect (let’s not digress into counter argument- could Shaft be White? Hell no- Shaft is essentially Black, while Bond is non-essentially White.) Could Bond be Asian? Perhaps oxymoronic, given the ubiquity of wonderful Asian villains dispatched by Bond through the years (Dr. No, Oddjob, et al). A Black woman? Lashana Lynch may indeed be the next Bond. But now, dominoes begin to tumble. Would Moneypenny need to be a man? The new Bond could be lesbian, and Moneypenny could remain female. But if the female Bond is straight, would she rough up male sex objects? How about M? The wonderful Judi Dench was the first woman M, perhaps helping to break ground for the first woman Bond. But is this even enough, given the diversity demands of the day? The possibilities could become a parlor game, a form of mobile poetry, a tour de force of flamboyant diversity. How about a gay man as Moneypenny, constantly flirting with the male Black Bond, who is in fact transgender? And what about Q? How about a nymphomaniac who invents an array of high tech Bond gadgets that double as atomic sex toys?
Have I offended you with my sarcasm, fellow progressives? My intent is not to offend, but to grab your attention. At this point in time, everything in this piece describes self-inflicted subversion. We play into Their hands with diversions, chopping ourselves up before They do.
Save the renaming and hyper diversity for later. Keep your eye on the real prize. Organize, get pissed and vote like Hell. We can’t allow Democracy to become a vestige in November.