Friday, May 01, 2015

In Praise of Satire



Some readers are so literal and blinkered that they took a "dark" view of my “Obama and His Texas Dreams” column, even though I clearly marked it "satire." The sad thing is that much of what I wrote in the original piece is no longer "prophetic" but are actualities. The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders haven't been bundled off to brothels....not yet. But Texan children are in many instances being indoctrinated in “Hispanic” culture. In California, a white wearing an American flag T-Shirt to school will get him expelled or suspended on charges of “hate speech” or “racism” against Hispanic or Mexican students. In some cases, Mexican students insist that the Mexican flag be flown over the American on school grounds.

Muslim students in American colleges and universities unabashedly voice their support for ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other Islamic terrorist organizations.

Muslims? Read the Breitbart article on Muslim and Mexican immigration here. Most Hispanic or Mexican immigrants or “refugees” bring their “culture” with them and resist assimilation into a “melting pot” or reject it entirely. As long ago as 1996 the consequences of unrestricted Muslim immigration to Europe were detailed in Claudio Holzner’s Journal article, “Rebirth of Islam in Italy: Between Indifference and Intolerance,” especially in regard to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and waging “cultural jihad” in European countries. Muslim and Mexican groups and spokesmen demand that non-Muslim and non-Hispanics “respect” their cultures and desist from mocking them in satire and even from penning serious critiques on their shortcomings or deleterious influences.

But “respect” means, in this context, “submission.” It means that to these tribalist minds, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and the statue of David must defer to mariachi bands and the Chihuahua doing the Mexican hat dance on two legs (did I mention that other outstanding dancing star, “Piernas Locas” Pedro in my original column?)

Fears of militant fundamentalism are not totally unfounded. This summer, Italian police dismantled an Algerian organization based in Naples and an Egyptian organization based in Milan that reportedly had links to Islamic terrorist groups in these countries. They arrested more than twenty immigrants and charged them with planning terrorist activities in their home countries and in Europe. The recent subway bombings in Paris are also signs that European countries are vulnerable targets of Islamic terrorism.

This was written in 1996. To say it was “prophetic” is an understatement. On the immigration issue alone, read Peter J. Duignan’s 2003 lengthy study of U.S. immigration policies and their consequences, “Making and Remaking America: Immigration Into the United States,” a Hoover Institution paper.

Did or did not Barack Obama promise to “fundamentally transform” America? To list the ways he is accomplishing that along economic, legislative, social and racial lines would require a column ten times the length of this one. For a précis of the subject, read Robert A. Hall’s American Thinker piece here.

Has ISIS established camps in Mexico, and formed an alliance with Mexican drug cartels? See this report. Does Obama want to “transform” Texas from a solid “red” state into another “blue” Michigan? Well, yes.

That is, "you can't make this stuff up." Especially not under the Obama Regime. I think many readers are afraid of the truth. There's not much room left for exaggeration in today's political and cultural climate. And, it seems that many readers have no sense of humor, dark or bright, and certainly no sense of or taste for satire. Well, that’s beyond my control. But the first rule of thumb in combating and defeating evil is to laugh at it.

Satire, in most instances of it, is a form of laughing at evil, at the irrational, at the malign, at the stupid. Political cartoonists, new and old, are satirists. Novels and plays can be satires. So can be live performances by political pundits, such as John Stewart, whose rolling eyes and exaggerated facial expressions amused liberals and leftists and college graduates for years. (I don’t mean to be complimentary by mentioning college graduates.)

Satire is as old as ancient Greece, beginning with Aesop and ending today with the likes of Saturday Night Live and countless movies, books, and political columns.

George Carlin was a satirist. Listen to his send-up of popular radio stations in “Wonderful WINO.”  His humor is often crude but on-point, such as his spiel on the Ten Commandments.

The American Revolution and the period leading up to it produced scathing satire among political cartoonists on both sides of the Atlantic and on both sides of the “American problem,” and helped to rile up Tories, Loyalists, and rebels alike in England and in the colonies.

Caricaturists are satirists. As with other forms of satire, caricaturists isolate the outstanding features of an individual and exaggerate them to produce an unforgettable image of that person. This can also be done with ideas, ideologies, and religions. Ayn Rand employed the skill of a caricaturist in her novel The Fountainhead to describe a left-wing drama critic, Jules Fougler: “A cartoonist had once drawn a famous picture of him; it consisted of two sagging circles, a large one and a small one: the large one was his stomach, the small one – his lower lip.”

One of my favorite comedies is a satiric play, Nude With Violin, by Noël Coward, which is a hilarious and justified critique of modern art.

Galaxy Quest” is a satiric send-up of Star Trek.

Satire is a medium that carries a double-edged bite. A Jon Stewart can mock American values and people he doesn’t approve of without critiquing them, relying on a consensus of amusement in his audiences as proof of his “truths.” He gets away with it because the MSM loves him and will not call him onto the carpet. Daniel Greenfield of Sultan Knish, however, has taken him apart many times, but particularly in “How Jon Stewart Gave us Obama.”

A columnist for the left-wing Guardian once dubbed George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” a satiric novel. The “notoriously” anti-Islam French magazine Charlie Hebdo was nominated for a PEN award, and won it, but members of PEN who object to the satirization of Mohammad are boycotting the ceremony. In the meantime, the chief cartoonist for Charlie Hebdo has renounced caricaturing Mohammad, surely a sign of submission to Islam (Islam meaning “submission”).

Salmon Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, itself a satirical novel on Islam, which earned him a perpetual death fatwa from the late, humorless, chief turban-head of Iran, has supported the PEN award to Charlie Hebdo and called the dissidents some nasty names (it sounds like “wussies”:

But he made it clear he wasn’t backing down on another allegation, made in a letter to PEN earlier this week, in which he described Prose and the five other authors to have withdrawn as “the fellow travellers” of “fanatical Islam, which is highly organised, well funded, and which seeks to terrify us all, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, into a cowed silence”. His Facebook post repeated the allegation: “‘Fellow travellers’, yes. No question of that. As for ‘fine distinctions’, here’s what I see. Our fellow artists were murdered for their ideas and you won’t stand up for them. I’m very sorry to see that. I think you’ll find the vast majority of the PEN membership will be sorry, too.”

All in all, satire can be entertaining, amusing, and a weapon of information and misinformation. Caveat emptor. In today’s political and cultural climate, the line dividing truth from satire is becoming increasingly blurred.

1 comment:

Edward Cline said...

I might also have mentioned that in many countries today, satire can get you killed, or indefinitely incarcerated, tortured, and hung out to dry. In the U.S., Tom Wolfe's satire, "The Bonfire of the Vanities," did not get the author killed. If he'd published its like in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union (or even in Putin's Russia), he would have earned a quick obituary.