stop clutching your pearls and own up
AS MY FREQUENT VISITORS ARE well aware, I like to solve the world’s problems in my inimitable way, or at least point them out if there’s no financial incentive and I don’t feel like changing out of my bathrobe, by wielding the almost supernatural influence of this blog.
Did I say “the world’s problems”? Look no further than your own back yard, Dorothy Gale! The U.S., Canada’s back yard strewn with half-dismantled human rights up on concrete blocks and mentally challenged Home Shopping Network addicts, provides a veritable cornucopia of problems on which I can demonstrate my astonishing insights and practise rolling my eyes backwards in my head with disdain.
Once all of America is writhing with shame from my withering analysis, I flick my gay wrist in their general direction, throw over my hapless subjects a handful of the fairy dust Tinkerbell rejected as too faggy, and voilà! The U.S. becomes just a tad more like Canada, the superhero who’s always Clark Kent.
In the U.S., you need Superman in order to live up to your heroic, revolutionary persona. You need victories, barely won. (If you doubt me, please go to your closet and meditate on the past four weeks’ transition of power, then the past four years of burgeoning fascism. Just don’t talk to me about it, OK? I’m still on the medication.) Bad guys beaten by the good guy, evil defeated by right equals might, but only in the last, nail-biting moments of the last act.
Up here, with a few strokes of a pen, we offshoots of Loyalists reiterate our commitment to equal rights—not to create them but to draw attention to their natural existence, should one need a reminder. We do things slowly, roughly at the pace of cold maple sap dripping out of a spigot.
We didn’t have our own Charter of Rights and Freedoms until the 1980s. But our glacial pace yields dividends. We don’t have to pore over the text of a radical, 18th-century screed, trying to divine how Thomas Jefferson would have reacted to the idea of transsexuals, or figure out whether the Second Amendment includes the right to carry a concealed automatic weapon.
You guys have to fight about what’s good first, then filter that through the mindset of some Enlightenment slave-owners; we already have it figured out according to slightly more up-to-date standards. Clark Kent goes to Parliament, Parliament delivers.
It’s not as exciting as a fight to the death against a ready, simplistic foe, it’s not as “Days of Our Lives” as arguing in the living room with the curtains open, but it gets the job done. Canadians love government! And the more boring the better. For drama we have the CBC.
And you can, too! For though you lack my fairy baton, all you need to know is that the key to the U.S. is extremism.
In the U.S. they like to take an acceptable idea then stretch it leftward and pound it rightward and work it like a thin crust pizza onto which they dump far too many toppings, including lashings of high Racism, sentimental cheese and red-hot flakes of stubborn misinformation and distrust. What was once a light snack is now a forced intubation on the body politic, who moan, “all we wanted was non-starving school kids, heart attacks without bankruptcy and strolls in the park without being raped at gunpoint, and you’ve turned it into a Tolkienesque struggle between my god-given American liberty and the forces of evil collectivism!”
Thus on the far left we have Sandernistas, the Bernie bro’s and babes, aiming firing squads at wonky, homespun Elizabeth Warren because she once brushed up against a Republican while buying her laundry detergent (“corporate lackey”) and vying for office space in the Politburo with far-right Trumpers—for though he be but a fading nightmare, Trumpism has escaped its cage and has long legs—who think Liz Warren’s name signifies The War of the Lizard People, yet another H.G. Wells subplot to QAnon’s vampire pedophiles (“liberals”).
The ouroboros of extremism has the front end of the far right forever planting its smoochy lips on the back end of the far left; and whether your ideology be the M.O. of plutocrats from Wall Street, Moscow or Beijing, we the people may be forgiven for not caring about the difference, because there isn’t one.
They call Canadians weird! Nothing but extreme simplicity to ripple those amber waves of grain. Nothing but either-or, win-lose, good-evil; black clouds blotting out the spacious white skies; give me Bernie or give me death (or at least some ear plugs).
I might at this point employ the word “Manichaean” if I had even an inkling that it was appropriate, but I promised my parents I wouldn’t embarrass them any more than was obviously unavoidable.
This extremism is in the very veins of Americans, who come in only two types, fancy and plain: city folk, living precariously by the rising seas on either coast, in liberal enclaves rivaling Sodom and Gomorrah in sinful ubiquity of anything you want; or aw-shucks country bumpkins, raising barns across all the rest and posing for Norman Rockwell paintings so tight-assedly, WASP-ly sinister that they effectively murder Catholics and Jews just by not painting them.
The city folk are the raw silk drawstring bag; the country folk, the lumps of pebbly aggregate that are the bag’s contents.
City folk have a smidgen of nuance. They order their intemperate Liberal delights in various colors and flavors. It’s a great, big inclusive quilt by Versace, dry clean only. The hicks, the country folk, just flat out hate niggers and homos and say so, holding their pitchforks firmly by their side in the style of Grant Woods’s creepy American Gothic, unaware that Grant Wood was fucked up about being gay and painted his sister as the wife in that eerie repurposing of 14th-century German style. He did that because incest with the “right” sex is clearly better than any sex with the “wrong” one.
“The wife appears to be gazing at something outside of the frame of the painting,” say all the usual critiques of Wood’s Meisterstuck. Of course she is! She was gazing at Grant Wood jerking off while whining, “can I touch your secret place again after I finish putting all the detail in your hair?”, then crying.
That’s the hicks for ya, and bless ’em for their honesty. City folks can’t own up to their core of hick, they must spin. White American Liberals once went to school with a Black person, so they’ve been inoculated against racism, and it’s a shame that Black people for some reason don’t want to live in the same gated communities as the white overlords, but what can you do? There’s no accounting for taste!
And anyway, why would they need good schools, which means white schools, when they’re all going to be basketball stars, or, even better because you don’t have to leave your room, rock stars singing and sharing their unique world view through their marvellously colorful ‘rap music’ ?
That seems reasonable to me! Yo, bro, Imma be so ghetto, muthafucka! Did I say that right? My goodness, I feel so… so… naughty, yet woke!
You may be surprised at how fluent I am in Ebonics. That’s because I spend so much of my time listening to the pathetic attempts by certain white boys of my acquaintance to be hip hop stars, which they achieve in their own heads, because there’s nothing else in their heads of importance, like getting jobs or being respectful. Listening to white boys mimic Black rappers while dreaming of fame makes my toes curl, and not with ecstasy.
My white boy hangers-on want to be cool, which they clearly are not, and they mimic what they think is cool, which is the trappings of fame that come from success in an art form born of a specific, desperate experience, without going through the experience. The experience comes from growing up without hope in the toxic milieu of the ghetto white people have forced Black people to inhabit; the real, physical ghetto and the spiritual ghetto.
The division of labour is clear. Black rappers can take their pain of growing up in the ghetto, create a musical genre of searing anger and caustic, foul-mouthed misogyny, then leverage the music into wealth, which they donate to the Blacks still growing up in the ghetto; white people get to say, with the grossest condescension, that “the ghetto is teaming with raw talent,” which they’ve been saying in the U.S. in one form or another since the Union vanquished the Confederacy.
You will note that both acts require that there be a ghetto, making this a win-win situation, just with both wins for white people.
But white boys? What do you have to rap about, except your dad not giving you the keys to the Range Rover on Saturday night? You can’t create the music of searing anger unless life hands you the raw materials. You’re just another bunch of white boys appropriating an “exotic” experience that your racism created.
We’ve tried to steal everything from Black people: hope, dignity, justice. But you can’t steal the pain of their experience. The pain you experience in the bland suburbs that Blacks weren’t allowed to move into is inconsequential, the pain of having only one mohair sweater.
You arranged it that way.