Trump’s reality show isn’t funny

Thursday, September 05, 2019

This column is in its 11th year. In the early years I saw my task as providing, in a personally transparent manner, an amusing alternative angle from which to glance at matters of seemingly great importance so readers could be freed for a few moments from the stress of taking things so seriously. Now I feel differently. It is as if the country and the world have become a house in a Stephen King novel, with darkness oozing out of every closed door, window and cabinet, filling our lives with news of tangible horror.

Being amusing feels almost inappropriate. Seriousness seems to be more the order of the day.

Yes, I can still suggest that President Thug’s next move is to promise that Mexico will buy us Greenland. Yes, I can predict he also will require that CEOs of American companies in China be dropped into a hurricane to stop it in its tracks. But the humor feels hollow. The seriousness of the reality overwhelms the tickle.

The criminality, corruption, torture, treason, tariff-taxation, environmental rape, and the ever-growing mountain of lies that scream out for action are met by the slavering media that fall for every deflective move the reality-show-host-in-chief throws at them, and promote his every distraction as breaking news. If his doorkeeper tells reporters about his family dynamics and Thug fires her, this is sold as something important to which we should all attend. This is not news. This is olds. How many people does he have to fire before it gets old for the media?

Why does international news reveal people in other countries flooding the streets to protest government action far milder than what our government does, but in our country people are too busy with social media to engage in real protest? I fantasize sitting down with my “Down with Fascism — Impeach!” sign in the middle of the town center intersection and getting arrested. But then I remember that some idiot will be on their cellphone and run me over. I guess that cowardice makes me part of the problem.

And the government Orcs depend on our inertia. Thus President Thug, following the latest gun slaughter, can promise consideration of background checks, wait a few days, and then totally renege. The Senate majority tyrant can promise consideration of gun legislation but not until September, knowing that by September the inertia combined with memory loss will make such consideration unnecessary. If, as Steve Matthews says, Denmark offered to buy the Senate from the NRA, I hope the offer is not ignored.

Dave Chappelle, today’s comic genius, in his new Netflix special, “Sticks and Stones,” reminds us that it is whites that do the gun slaughtering and asks how we will be able to disarm the whites. He answers that the country can be saved, as it is always saved, by the blacks. His solution is that every able-bodied black person register to own a gun. This is the only measure that will get the gun laws changed.

Dear Lord, is it time to impeach? Give us a sign. Make the sun rise.

Chappelle says he doesn’t joke about Trump because the problem is not so much Trump as the millions of Americans who support him. This is no doubt true. But what is to be done? James F. Haning II contributes the following to Facebook: “Trump supporters continue to question if Arizona State Rep. Eric Descheenie, a Navajo American legislator, is here ‘illegally.’ Let that level of stupid sink in for a moment.”

Where do you begin when “stop shooting our kids” is seen as a “liberal talking point” by the “pro-life” crowd?

My highest self knows better than to mock other people. One of the things I like so much about Chappelle is that together with his mockery of all sorts, he lets you know that this is humor and that he genuinely has a decent regard for all folks. This appeals to me because my better angels speak to me in the same way. Add to this that as a psychologist I think I should understand rather than mock people’s motivations.

And yet … And yet … We have Nazis in the streets. We have presidential endorsement of torchlight chanting that “the Jews will not replace us.” We have brown-skinned Christians at our southern border being treated worse than we permit animals to be treated.

The oozing darkness is unbearable. The inaction is worse.

Richard S. Bogartz is a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts.