Thursday, January 4, 2018

Still the same boy with whom not to play

The consolations, normally so practically
to be sought in the 17th Century, of proof
of a darker time in social history, frayed
somewhat more rapidly than one had imagined,
and a prudent burial in their text proved
shallower than the strategies of sanity re-
quire. Our wondrous colossus of the media
ratings showed such verve, so suddenly, as
to convene a new battle of the bulge via a
breach of that same Ardennes of decorum
last plowed with a rival in the male hand.
Never mind, the implications for peace in
our time; there was reputation to sustain.

I don't know if children still possess the knack for discerning where revulsion lies, in the ways and by-ways of their learning years. Usually, some institution might warn, in loco parentis, not to play with a little Donny Thump-Thump. Now, when the market for sound advice is ground so nicely beneath the stampede for thrilling delusion as has swept the country which defended Bastogne, the ordinary restraints do fail. The US was wondrously in luck, therefore, in the opening hours of this very year, to rediscover the sheer practical convenience of moral astonishment.

Nobody likes to state the obvious more than one affirming time, in any given 24 hours, but we have a twitter zealot to teach us that the appetite for the preposterous is inexhaustible. As I study a portrait of my own contemporaries, albeit from another school district (Oregon spruce isn't prevalent in Pasadena), I am struck that an acceptance of degraded communications has wrought a degradation, by definition, of our conception of human beings. If nothing else, these faces bear the imprint of a very devoted care; and I don't think I'm ready to dismiss this virtue as another defect of antiquity. To place this roguish, confident, trusting cohort side by side with the figure they've survived to find held over them, seems to me to mark change more grave than years. I see Christmas cards from friends, beaming now at infants, and I don't know where they'll play. Maybe they'll have foxholes.

Duress recalls the expediency of satire's indirections. We've heard enough of Nuts - the hallowed riposte of Bastogne's commander, to overbearing calls to surrender - to admit that shame will never restrain this nemesis. I have to compliment two columnists from The Washington Post, for capturing the insane essence in the aggression mounted against Americans in the last two news cycles. They show the satiric power of impersonation to portray the inexcusable, even to its fanatics and its corrupted Party. 

Alexandra Petri
The Washington Post
3 January 2018

Dana Milbank
The Washington Post
3 January 2018

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