Was there ever a society so saturated with lunacy as ours? One expects modulated nuttiness from the better element, particularly those
inhabiting the corporate and legislative spheres. But these days insanity is pervasive, spreading through all classes and walks of life. For years we have been treated to pinstriped fugitives from the asylum like Pete Peterson urging the nation into ruin by slashing the deficit; but on September 12 in Washington by tens of thousands were the sans-culottes screaming for fiscal propriety as though channeling the ruinous orthodoxies of Montagu Norman or Andrew Mellon. Many among these Glenn Beck legions were surely one stroke or tumor away from financial ruin yet were still ready to tear any advocates of publicly funded health insurance into tiny pieces as though they were hawking The Communist Manifesto at a revival meeting. Inspiring, was it not, to see such self-abnegation on the part of so many people prepared to die in the name of free enterprise!
Many of the Glenn Beckers are “birthers” too, making delusional forays into the supposedly dubious documentation of Barack Obama’s delivery in a hospital in Hawaii. Sometimes I think the White House should knock these surmises on the head by releasing all relevant documents and testimonies. But of course this would merely throw napalm on the flames. Once, when writing some caustic remarks about the occupants of another ward in the national asylum, the 9/11 Truthers, I suggested that the “missing people” on the plane that hit the Pentagon had been kidnapped at an earlier stage in the operation and flown to an air base in Louisiana–the very same air base where George Bush briefly touched down in his erratic flight from Florida on September 11, 2001. George Bush then personally executed the captives.
It was a satirical sally. But I swiftly received serious letters from people vexed by the lack of detail. Where had Bush shot them? With what type of weapon? A summary burst from a machine gun? Or a .22 bullet behind the ear?
For all too many on the left, the so-called 9/11 conspiracy remains the magic key. If it can be turned, then history at its present impasse will be unlocked and we can move on. For those on the racist right, aghast at the reality of a black man (actually half-white, half-black) in the White House, the magic key to reversing this unpleasing development is Obama’s allegedly fake Hawaiian birth certificate. Their suppositions and claims shift, but the essence is always the same: he’s alien. He has no right to be president. And as with the Truthers, the provision of evidence rebutting their claims is merely fuel piled on the bonfire of their insanity.