The White House on Maple Street — where Ringmasters and Suckers dwell
I watched an episode of The Twilight Zone, called, The Monsters are Due on Maple Street, with an online network of early morning, local news viewers. It was an insightful way to kick off “Independence(?) Day”. In watching the Zone, I’m struck by how much the story reminded me of America — on Independence Day 2018.
A friend shared a painfully honest piece written by Jim Wright, called “Folly, Vice & Madness”, twitter/stonekettle. It, further illustrates lunacy and power run amok. All of this converged and inspired me to write this.
Here’s my summary of how Rod Serling’s Maple Street plays on today’s national stage. I’ve summarized and inserted some contemporary examples to set the scene for America’s Maple Streets in 2018:
A “dark shadow” (Obama) covers Maple Street — aka Pennsylvania Avenue, where the White House sits. Things mysteriously stop working as they used to (or reverse: the economy picks up; Healthcare is addressed; etc.). A child (or, immature, child-like president?) shares a tale of fear about this “dark shadow”. His prejudices lead him to falsely blame & point figures at an easy target to blame (the Black president). As curious things happen, he conveniently points fingers at the person that his followers are ready to demonize without question. They’ve not had one like him on Maple Street before, so it’s easy to fault the new presence.
People hear the finger-pointing child’s accusations (without any proof or truth to them) and, conveniently, treat them as accurate. Others chime in and start to blame others for what they couldn’t explain — or, have no time to interrogate themselves. A mob of gullible, misinformed people grows. “Leaders” & propaganda outlets (Fox; Breitbart; Limbaugh; Pirro; McConnell; Etc.) embrace the narrative and start blaming “others” (foreigners; other races; etc.) for what they might gain or lose on their Maple Street.
The people panic and finger-point at neighbors, co-workers and strangers for anything they don’t like. They start crafting narratives (misguided policies, like immigration laws and tariffs) and questioning behaviors that weren’t a problem before. Everybody who doesn’t look like them is a suspect and threat. They even direct their suspicions towards the least of us (the poor; children; people seeking refuge).
The mob mentality turns violent. People — once neighbors — become enemies. Rocks (policies) are thrown. There’s a shooting (and verbal violence). Chaos erupts.
And, it all started with an unexpected appearance — a spectre that descended upon a community (or nation) for short period of time (8 years). What had appeared tranquil is disrupted by fears and suspicions that had been simmering beneath the surface for some time (racism; othering; implicit biases). The tranquility was a cloak just waiting to be pulled off to expose what lay beneath. Oddly, because the spectre challenged preconceived notions of capability, it confused the narrative of blame and hate.
So, “the patriots” in the community elected (literally) chaos, to disrupt & divide. You see, disruption and division trumps dialogue and distracts from the quest for solutions. Democracy was lost to dysfunction. The notion of Democracy, that was once the higher value, was compromised.
The mob mentality started by someone pointing fingers. Others seized the community airwaves (cable; blogs and tweets) and shouts false accusations. Accusers get stirred up. Band-wagoners jump on. A new/old “enemy” is accused and the crowd embraces the hate. The ring leader diverts and distracts, randomly. Facts don’t matter. Lies become truth. Fear creates mistrust. The enemy IS us.
Back to the future?
We become our own misguided monsters when we let some folks create panic and mistrust within and amongst us — for their own edification and elevation. And, as the panic erupts, some are sitting and watching the self-destruction with disgust or in amusement.
What will this nation become if people are inspired by:
- an “us vs them” paradigm;
- accept unfounded claims as verifiable narratives;
- judge & convict people based upon biases & prejudiced perspectives;
- a disregard for truth, itself, where facts aren’t even respected.
Who’s the Sucker now?
A 1947 short film, called, “Don’t Be a Sucker”, was produced by the U.S. Department of War. It’s purpose was to warn American’s against facism & the leaders who promote it. If you’re short on time, check out this clip and see if it sounds familiar. If it resonates, watch the full, 17 minute clip — and share it. Talk about it. Does the man on the soapbox sound familiar? Replace the soapbox with media platforms like Fox News, Breitbart & Sinclair Broadcasting stations. Does the spread of lies & disinformation concern you in the least? Share the clip with your elected officials & voters, to remind them of the rhetoric that we used to oppose. Racist, hate-speech used to be largely condemned by America. Our military produced the how-to-spot-hate/racism/racism video to warn Americans that it is unpatriotic.
Know your AMERICAN History
The 1947 War Department warned us not to be suckers. Showman, P.T. Barnum (Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus) bragged that a sucker was born every minute. Too many suckers are believing today’s circus ringmaster in the White House.
Monsters on my Street
So, check out “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” — linking the excellent episode again, here, in case you still didn’t watch it. My interpretation is my own — some may/may not agree. I’m ok with that.
Rod Serling was a force of humanitarian & social justice brilliance. He spoke to, critiqued and defied the times. From Wiki, “according to his wife, Serling often said that “the ultimate obscenity is not caring, not doing something about what you feel, not feeling! Just drawing back and drawing in, becoming narcissistic.”. He was known as the “angry young man” of Hollywood, clashing with television executives and sponsors over a wide range of issues including censorship, racism, and war.”
There’s Nothing New Under The Sun
History, should you choose to accept it, tells us that protests aren’t new. We need more protestors, social justice agitators and more action, if we really want more change.
Serling brought harsh truths to the small screen & challenged conventional thinking decades ago. He always did a mic drop, “Final Thought”, to prompt more thinking on what we witnessed. The Maple Street tale & the War film short, could have been written this morning.
The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices — to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill — and suspicion can destroy — and a thoughtless frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own — for the children — and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is — that these things cannot be confined — to the Twilight Zone. (from WiKi story about Maple Street episode)
You Betta Preach Rod Serling!!!!
So, Listen Up!
Today’s, multi-media guilty pleasures help dumb us down and distract us from real issues. The social media circus has mis-educated millions — and they vote. We have people hating “other” people on our Maple Streets. Sadly, their hate is validated by leaders in state houses and the current White House. We have a president standing on his corner soapbox (Fox or in the Rose Garden), preaching demented, unpatriotic & unamerican rhetoric against fellow Americans — to felllow Americans. Not enough people are walking away or questioning the false statements. Some even cheer and jeer.
We need more people choosing to walk away & ignore any ringmaster that lies and refuses to hold himself to the same standards expected of his/her fellow Americans. That’s what REAL patriots would do. The old U.S. War Department warned us to not be “suckers”. We’ve had too many suckers born already. We need a #SuckerFreeSociety. Work hard to get those suckers off your streets and out of offices they occupy. #VotePeople