I cannot get enough of the news this
week. The Obamas visiting their new home, the White House.
Sarah Palin standing back in her office in Alaska, which
is strewn with blue balloons
and hung with the kind of banner you’d buy for
a kid’s birthday party saying: “WELCOME HOME,
GOVERNOR.” The Republican Party trying to pinpoint
just where they went off-message. The South finally relegated
to the same the irrelevant jerkwater politically that
it’s always been in reality. Having allowed myself
to wallow unashamedly in the joy of victory, watched
digital camera videos of crowds hugging cops on Dekalb
Avenue, listened to Obama’s books on CD (read by
the author), and played Bruce Springsteen’s “Land
of Hope and Dreams” and Patrick Doyle’s score
for the "St. Crispin’s Day" speech in
Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V about seventy
times each, I finally decided to indulge myself in looking
in on the reactions of conservatives to the Obama victory.
A mistake, of course. It’s not even
that gratifying to gloat over their defeat; their perceptions
are so untouched by reality that they’re not even
abandoning the same field we won. They seem to think
that the election of this centrist pro-business Democrat
is the end of America, the foundation of some totalitarian
Marxist state, the installment of an Islamofascist Quisling
in the Oval Office, and that at any moment an elite P.C.
corps of jackbooted bull-dyke feminazis is going to kick
down their doors and confiscate their penises I mean
guns!, their guns, and shut down forever that last bastion
of free speech in America, their blogs. One poster noted
that all the AK-47s and ammo had disappeared from his
local gun shop in the last week.
To quote Penny Robinson: “Dr. Smith,
when will you stop acting so silly?” What exactly
are these delusional cowards imagining is going to happen?
Where are the fascist armies, where the invading Mohammedan
horde, the mobs of ravaging negroes, the Yippie fifth
column, that they’re girding themselves to hold
off? I picture them, as in panel 4, still hunkered down
eight years from now, their ammo and canned goods grown
dusty and cobwebbed, barricaded against the twin menaces
of free health care and renewable energy. In other words,
there’s this nice hot loaf of banana bread waiting
for them-- maybe with walnuts or chocolate chips, even--but
no, they won’t be fooled by that old ruse, they’re
fine with just jerky.
What they remind me of, really, is nothing
so much as the dwarves in the stable in The Last
Battle, the final book in Lewis’s Chronicles
of Narnia. (I am aware that this is my second Narnia
allusion in as many weeks—what that’s about
is anybody’s guess, unless it’s just that
I have to reach all the way back to children’s
fantasy literature to find any analogy appropriate to
our new reality.) The Dwarves (Lewis's allegories for
intellectual skeptics) are sitting in a sunlit meadow,
and Aslan places a great feast before them, but they
still believe they’re huddled in a dark stable,
and think they’ve managed to scrounge up an old
half-eaten turnip. Aslan explains, “You see, they
will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead
of belief. Their prison is in their minds, yet they are
in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that
they cannot be taken out.”
When I went to vote back in my Undisclosed
Location in rural Maryland, the local Democrats had a
little card table set up outside the polling place with
some pamphlets and a box of donuts on it. I was asking
the ladies at the table about some of the local candidates
when a young man walked up and asked, kind of sheepishly,
whether the donuts were for anyone who was voting.
“You could have one,” they
“'Cause I ain’t votin’ for
no black dude, I’ll tell you that,” he said,
relieved and cheerful.
“ You can’t have one,” they
I reacted only with my usual repressed
shudder of loathing and the usual inward cringe of shame
about not opening my mouth in token right-minded protest.
For some reason, ignorant bigots are never content to
be quietly ignorant and bigoted; they’re proud
of it, and they want you to know about it, like people
who proselytize for Jesus or sell Amway. Meanwhile,we
tend to keep our own decent and civilized sentiments
about equality closeted for fear of getting called eggheads
or faggots or (I actually heard this once) “edjumacated
idjiots.” (Funny that everyone in this country
professes to value education, but despise the
My own solution to this quandary was to
move to New York City, far, far away from anyplace that
kind of trailer trash could ever afford or begin to fathom.
It is some consolation that those losers
are suddenly feeling confused and frightened and angry,
like this isn't their country any more—which, in
fact, it isn't. Like MLK said, "the arc of the moral
universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Eventually--not
soon enough, but someday--all those people are going
to die off and nobody will even understand why electing
a black president was a big deal or why gay marriage
was ever an issue at all.
I’ve lately been remembering a story
about a group of black demonstrators who gathered outside
Cape Kennedy during the moon landing, indignant that
the government was spending so many billions on this
useless project when so many people were hungry, homeless,
without jobs or medical care. The protesters were not,
as would probably happen today, corralled into paddy
wagons and detained without charges until the mission
was over. Instead, NASA officials went to meet them,
and invited them in to watch the landing with them. This
isn’t just for white America, they told them. It’s
for all of us. We came in peace for
Please--come in. Join us.
This makes for an awkward addendum to
my donut anecdote, but after I’d voted, I asked
the women at the Democratic table whether they’d
really withheld the donut.
“ Nah,” they admitted. “We
gave him one.” I later learned that in fact it
would’ve been illegal not to hand out gifts equitably.
Still, I was disappointed.
“ Aw,” I said. “No donuts
And yet, watching Obama’s luminous
acceptance speech, hearing him say to all those who had
bitterly fought his election what I could never have
imagined Bush saying to me and my friends—“I
hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your
President too”--I was almost glad that that little
dirtbag had gotten his donut after all. Yes, I thought,
victory: donuts for all. Seeing our first black president,
that science-fiction trope for The Future, become a reality,
I felt the way people must have felt the night men first
walked on the moon.
Note: to readers who are curious as to
why I have included color in a cartoon for the first
time ever merely to indicate the color of Boyd’s
and my fancy cocktails, I will give the same answer my
friend Michael once gave to a harried cocktail waitress
who asked of his drink order, “Why must it be blue?”: “Because
Our donation button directly below.