It’s difficult to kick-start a column when the right word won’t come along. And I’ve been searching all over the hotel too. In one corner I found, “Effrontery,” but that doesn’t take in the totality of the event. I located “Banality” by the vending machine, and it seemed a qualified candidate at first, but it’s not tall enough to reach the height of the insult. But what do you think? Because on one hand, we have the words of Abraham Lincoln:
We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name – liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names – liberty and tyranny.
Meanwhile, on the other hand, we have a man who, by word and deed, delights and brags on doing as he pleases with the property and lives of other men. And yet(!) in a few days he will place his hand on Abraham Lincoln’s Bible and swear an oath to uphold a Constitution which, by his own admission, he views as fundamentally flawed, which he has violated as a matter of routine in his first term in office, and which he will proceed to further overrule at every convenient opportunity. The looming inauguration is not, therefore, just an effrontery, or a banality, or even an insult. It is a profanation against the very concept of a solemn oath before God, a debauching of civic life and virtue, and a besmirching of our national heritage.
Four years ago, my sister steadfastly refused to watch the inauguration on the grounds that she knew what this President was up to and she didn’t want to bear witness to the beginning of the onslaught. I, however, watched it partly for the historic moment and partly due to the curiosity which compels one to watch, say, a car wreck. Four years ago, at least there was the hope that once the veil was lifted and the “fundamental transformation” of America was revealed to be the replacement of a limited government with the imposition of increasingly centralized authority from Washington, that the people would reverse course and embrace the nation’s founding principles. But that hope was revealed to be only so much rubbish and the hell with it.
As I write these words, the television in the hotel lobby is playing video footage of natural disasters. In these clips, people flee as quickly as possible from the path of the tornado, or the fire, the blizzard, or the rising flood waters. I don’t mind watching that. It’s the oaf that decides to go surfing as the waters rise, and who will expect others to rescue him from the consequences of his own stupidity, that causes me to change channels. So I think I’ll do something else during the inauguration.
I always enjoy reading the madcap ways in which some college students answer their test questions. Why listen to vapid tributes to the genius of America from a President who doesn’t trust Americans with more than seven bullets to defend themselves when instead I can enjoy the resourcefulness of a student who instructs us that, “To collect fumes from sulfur, hold a deacon over a flame in a test tube.” After all, as one student observed, “When you breath, you inspire,” and “When you don’t breath, you expire,” and I’d much rather be inspired by these creative minds than expire while listening to the tired bromides of ideas that have bankrupted every country that has tried them.
Better to read that “Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock,” than to hear that the remedy to evil in our time is to make it more difficult for the law abiding to defend themselves. I’d rather learn that 300 Spartans died at Waterloo, or that Huey Long defeated George III during the Peloponnesian War somewhere close to the Alamo, than hear a President say that a health care law which provides for over 16,000 IRS agents (but not a single extra doctor) will improve the health of Americans. Speaking of which, did you know that for a nosebleed, you should, “Put the nose lower than the body until the heart stops,” and that, “For head colds, use an agonizer to spray the nose until it drops into your throat.” Or that a Vacuum is, “A large empty space where the pope lives?”
So while others take blood pressure medication and try not to expire while an utterly meaningless oath is taken and empty platitudes bounce off sacred monuments, profaning the people those monuments honor and abusing the ears and minds of free men, I’ll acquaint myself with such antics as Honors English student Peter Nguyen engaged in when he wrote:
Walt Whitman is 90 stories tall, and his adventures are legendary. With his blue Ox, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman travelled across young America and helped the nation grow into the angry powerhouse it is today. He dropped his might axe, forming the Grand Canyon; the apple cores he would spit from his mighty mouth planted apple seeds all across the country; and the stomp of his mighty boot caused the stock market to crash. He and his friend, Huck Finn, travelled down the Mississippi river and freed the slaves.
It’s more honest, more refreshing, and beats the stew beef out of watching a self-inflicted, national car wreck.