Thursday, March 17, 2016

Now is the Winter of Our Discontent

“And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stol’n out of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.”
Richard III, Act I, Scene IV 

Richard III stepped out of the past and into Shakespeare’s magnificent play to become one of the greatest villains in history.  If you don’t understand the meaning of the word villain, read Richard.  It won’t take you long.  You will be spellbound by the sheer malevolence of the man, as he murders first one brother, than another and finally two young children in order to achieve the throne of England.

Was Richard really Richard?  Many say no.  A number of historians in Britain say that he was a good but misunderstood king.  After all these hundreds of years it doesn’t matter much to us here in America, save to say that the man of myth and the king of fiction will from time to time rear his ugly head in the course of human events.

To bridge the gap between the 15th and 21st centuries you might want to watch a motion picture made in 1995 and starring Sir Ian McKellen – one of England’s greatest Shakespearians – portraying Richard as a Fascist leader in the 1930’s.  Richard’s image is well suited to this parallel in time, as is the reality T.V. show that is the Republican nomination process of 2016.

In the latter version the part of Richard is played – albeit without the skill or craft of Sir Ian – by one Donald J. Trump.  This carnival barker, come political buffoon, lives and breathes in the cult of celebrity, the national obsession with staged and faked authenticity and a longing for the faded nationalism of a world that died a well deserved death in the last century.

As Shakespeare’s play and McKellen’s performance require a stage, so too does the twisted campaign and platform of Trump.   Here serves as sycophant our corporate media.  Though they deny their complicity, they cannot deny the hours upon hours of free coverage provided to Trump to the exclusion of every other candidate in the race, including those in the Republican field.  They cannot deny that they have hung on his every vile word as if it were Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt, Kennedy or Obama at the podium.  While they have waxed morally indignant and superior in the face of Trump’s mob, they have fed off of his villainy and incitement to violence like maggots; and for what?  Why ratings of course.   No less than Frank Rich of the New York Times told us last night that they had to follow him.  He is a big story.  He was made a big story, in no small part, by the very media that he abuses, insults, assaults and humiliates at almost every rally.  There is a name for people who take money for being screwed over and subjugated to ill-treatment.  It isn’t journalist.

We are living in dangerous times.  Fully as dangerous as the 1930’s when Rightwing oppression rose to power in Europe.  Today, there is another strong man, another Fascist, on the world stage.   True to form he is rallying his followers with calls to violence and lies about his opponents.  He appears to be unstoppable because he is feeding the worst of our fears with the foulest of meats – the scapegoat.  He is a liar, calling Sanders a Communists while clearly not knowing what a Communist is; starting the weak woman crap about Clinton – a woman who is almost as weak as the United States Marine Corp. 

It is time for Americans to wake the hell up; to stop worrying about the Super Bowl, the Toilet Bowl, the Rose Bowl, the World Series, tall men in sort pants playing with large balls and big men with long pants rolling in the mud, playing with egg-shaped balls.   Never mind Johnny Depp’s sex life, the size of Kim Kardashian’s tits or whether or not Lohan and Beaver will grow up before they grow old; unless of course you would like to live in the Spain of Franco or the Italy of Mussolini.

In reality Richard III reigned for only two years before the Earl of Richmond killed him in battle putting an end to the Plantagenet line and establishing the House of Tudor.  In legend, the homicide known as Richard III has survived for many, many decades.  The two bloody, desperate years of his reign have become a metaphor for what happens to a people that empower a tyrant be it through ignorance, laziness, apathy, temper, greed or self interest.  

I have no doubt that Trump will be the Republican Party’s nominee.  He is threatening his party with riots if he is not nominated.  I suppose he will threaten the country with riots if he isn’t allowed to take the White House.  Anyone who doesn’t vote in November because their candidate didn’t win; the cat took a dump on their mail-in ballot; they don’t make decisions on Tuesday or are having a bad hair day, deserve what they get.  However, before you blow off your vote do a little reading, not just Richard III but the history of Europe under Fascism.  If that is something you think you would like to try, stay home and wait for a modern day Earl of Richmond to come save your ass.

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