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City Upon a Hill: The Theatrics Behind America’s Cover (Up) Story

Exactly 10 years ago, former president Barack Obama stood before the nation and remarked, “If we think that we can secure our country by just talking tough … we will misunderstand this moment and miss its opportunities.” Around the same time, Mr. Obama also reflected that, “The best judge of whether or not a country is going to develop is how it treats its women … if women are oppressed and abused and illiterate, then they’re going to fall behind.”

It was powerful, emotive rhetoric that seemed to position America as a nation of tolerance and rational consideration. This was an America led by a young African-American who not only overcame the odds to win one election, but two. It was an America that appeared to be openly distancing itself from a dying past.

But looking back at a more recent past with a much older, less tolerant leader, we see an American political elite extolling the virtues of division, paranoia and aggression. We have seen a 45% increase in racial violence over the year leading up to the 2016 election, while the decline in the tourist industry – due to the world making their opinions vocally heard – has cost the country $4.6 billion and the loss of 40,000 jobs.

Which would suggest that nothing ever really changed. While the nation’s public face courageously stepped forward into the embrace of modern, Western liberal thought, its deep-rooted traditionalist faction simply nurtured their opinions in the shadows. And it was a safe place to do so, far from the watchful eye of the rest of the world. Over the past 20 years, the planet was either so enamored with Clinton and Obama, or so perplexed by George W. Bush, that hatred seemed to have been confined to the attention of fringe journalists such as Louis Theroux. Job done.

But it wasn’t done. The nation still tolerated (and continues to tolerate) the gender pay gap, the nation still supported (and continues to support) the confinement of indigenous people to reservations, the nation normalized (and continues to normalize) profit-based healthcare. When Trump came to power, the veil on the façade was finally lifted and the bile within – stored under such compression for two decades – burst with alarming force. Sure, the force was largely cantankerous bigots of an older generation, but a force it was.

So, how do we interpret the real America of both the recent past as well as the present? The image that immediately comes to mind is of an emotionally unstable body of conservatives forced to wear a positive, public-facing mask that suggests contentment and tolerance. But now that mask is off, some members of society fear we are the worse for it.

Me? I’m the opposite. With the mask removed, we can clearly identify the enemy, and from here, we can isolate and then educate those determined to drag us further from the land of acceptance that America so desperately wants to – and should – be. Let’s be tolerant; embrace the bigots and help them to understand that there is a brighter, less fractious future to walling-up the sandbags and stockpiling the ammo.

Screw You Lady Liberty

It was an awkward moment. Nobody had prepared him. But when president Trump proclaimed that, “The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” not only did some poor bugger lose their job for forgetting to inform him that migrants and refugees have been coming here ever since the Spanish – albeit briefly – settled Georgia in 1526, yet another barb was thrown at a social group who have more right to complain about immigration than any other.

The continent’s indigenous people.

For five centuries, outsiders have landed on American shores, and for five centuries not one of them has asked permission of the native inhabitants for that privilege. In this perpetual narrative of thanklessness and theft, the historic tribes of Turtle Island served as placeholders for white expansion, and now that expansion is complete, their story is – yet again – being forgotten.

Not that it had ever been remembered in the first place.

Trump’s clumsy, thoughtless mishandling of history was utterly appalling and, in an instant, dismissed the collective experiences of thousands of indigenous people. As you read this, think of the Wampanoag, Narragansett and Niantic in a time before a highway cut through the land between Providence and Warwick. Picture a beach in Newport without a single Burberry bag or thrice-whiffled latte. See the twinkle of campfires along the shore of Mount Hope Bay; hear the sound of dad jokes being told in Algonquin. Smell the burning cedar wood.

It is easy to forget when caught-up in the day-to-day existence of life in the United States, but unless we are of native descent, we are all migrants and refugees in one way or another. I, for one, was born in Ireland and moved here in my 20s. This is not my cultural homeland, this is the place of the People of the Small Point and the People of the First Light. Not that being here is wrong; that would be a genocidal way of thinking, as well as an attempt at reversing history. But we do need to remember with humility who was here first, and to have respect for their descendants who remain.

On the other hand, for those such as myself who came from the east, there are those immortal words etched in stone at the base of the Statue of Liberty that also command respect: “Give me your tired, your poor… the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.” As I see it, if I can make a home here and be welcomed by the community, then I have a duty to extend that assistance to somebody else.

Because if those words at the foot of that big copper woman in New York City isn’t the description of a refugee followed by an invitation to move across the Atlantic, then my name is Elmer Fudd.

Unmuting Melania

When I was 9 years old, I watched a man walk through Seattle’s China Town wearing a t-shirt proclaiming, “Free Tibet!” He was an older individual with a white mustache and a pigeon-toed gait who neither drew attention to his statement nor acted in a manner that would cause alarm. Instead, he quietly turned a corner and disappeared into the murk of a side-street restaurant.

But it wasn’t the owners of the establishment to which the understated revolutionary was making a statement, nor to the Chinese community living in the shadow of Mount Rainier. Instead, his message went directly to the National People’s Congress in Beijing, and they did not have to be there in person to see it. Such is the power of the written word when sewn into cloth.

Clothing has long been used as a political canvas, whether grassroots or otherwise, and nobody in the public eye knows more about the potential of controversial fashion statements than Melania Trump. But that’s not all she knows. The current first lady presents public marital discord with as much theatrical wherewithal as a Shakespearean actor, and recently in Texas, the former runner-up of Jana Magazine’s Look of the Year Competition had the opportunity to combine her abilities in a way like never before.

You all know the story. Melania Trump flies to Texas on a surprise visit to the families embroiled in the separation crisis. When boarding her airplane home, the entire world and its dog sees, “I really don’t care. Do u?” scrawled across the back of her jacket.

The outcry was immense. Everyone (including their pets) wanted an explanation. Melania’s husband, the scratched record that he is, rambled something spurious about dishonesty in the media, while her publicist claimed the jacket had no meaning at all. As for Melania, she has remained tantalizingly quiet on the matter, such as she always does.

But this time – just maybe – it’s different.

Before, her silence had been due to a desire for privacy, or the result of what looks like severe unhappiness in her marriage (see the point about public marital discord), but the appearance in Texas was a conscious move. Defiance. At the same time the president was holding niche rallies in benefit of families who have had members murdered by undocumented immigrants, the first lady was making unannounced visits to those affected by the bullying dogma pouring forth from Washington. Perhaps in Melania Trump we are witnessing a real-life Claire Underwood rising from the cauldrons of Trump’s Isengard. Perhaps, after an extended absence from the public eye explained away as kidney surgery, just around the same time she launched a campaign to support abused children, Melania might finally have had enough of being spoken for and has decided to step into the flickering limelight of 21st century politics. Sure, the phrasing on the jacket wasn’t totally there, but the intent may well have been, and that’s what matters.

Not holding the old man’s hand doesn’t seem as radical now, does it?

Then again, maybe I’m being hopeful. Excessively optimistic. Clutching at straws … in a hay bale … in a hurricane. But hey, look on the bright side. If all else goes to the dogs, I can always audition for Jana Magazine’s Look of the Year Competition.

Trump-Fried Rice

Walmartia D.C., 1 October 2019 – On the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (a corrupt nation of losers and haters), our esteemed President (definitely not a dictator), has declared victory in the glorious Trade War against the communist connivers in Beijing. In a swift, decisive move, Mr. Trump dealt a death blow to commercial traffic between the two nations by tweeting an idea so cunning, it crashed the People’s Bank of China in an instant. All that remains for the President in his campaign dubbed, Operation Perpetual Golden Freedom, is the destruction of Chinese consumer goods illegally being sheltered in the United States of Ivankamerica. Chinese Laundrettes will henceforth be known as Uncle Sam’s Stain Removers, while all flights to China will now terminate at Cape Wrangell, Alaska, (since this is the farthest western point of our dear nation, and thus the closest you’re going to get to China without contracting socialism).

Arguably, the biggest part of Operation Perpetual Golden Freedom will be the mass reclassification of Chinese restaurants as Oriental Liberty Diners. But worry not, dear America. This means you can still enjoy an all-you-can-eat graduation party, but content in the knowledge that your family will be chowing-down on socially acceptable/non-leftist menu options. We have listed some of these below:

General Custer’s Chicken

Shredded Beef Canyon Lake Style

Springfield Rolls

Twice-Cooked Pork with Baked Beans Curd

Crab Roanokes with American Cheese

Beef in White Bean Sauce

Chicken-Fried Sweet and Sour Pork

Steamed Pork Trumplings

The future is bright. The future is Trump-fried rice.

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