Monday, February 11, 2013

Situation Normal …

Years ago, my dad, a World War II vet, told me the true meaning of that hoary army expression, snafu. I’m sure you know it, too. It’s classic military argot.
Situation Normal, All Fucked Up.
GIs always had a way with words. Leave it to the guys who slogged through Europe’s mud and the jungles of the South Pacific, fighting Hitler and Tojo an inch at a time, to distill the army experience into one pithy acronym. The absurdity of war in five simple letters.
And snafu applied not just to the large-scale absurdities of war. Snafu didn’t just refer to, say, Dresden-sized absurdity, Hiroshima-and-Nagasaki-sized absurdity. It also referred to the mundane, Catch-22-type absurdities of everyday life during wartime: The tedium and formality and mind-numbing bureaucracy right in the middle of all hell breaking loose, where you might die on any given day, but there were always these forms that had to be filled out and these Byzantine rules that had to be adhered to, because god forbid you should get your ass shot off and the paperwork wasn’t done properly. That’s kind of how my dad conveyed the idea, anyway. Normal in the army is, was, and always shall be fucked up.
Sometimes I think it’s not just an army thing, though. Sometimes I think there’s a boatload of snafu in everyday civilian life, right here in these United States.
That thought occurred to me today when my friend Imani of Angry Black Lady Chronicles pointed out that embarrassingly crappy rock ’n roll has-been Ted Nugent will attend tomorrow night’s State of the Union address as a guess of Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Tex.). Talking Points Memo has more details, here.
As usual, Imani gets to the heart of it:
Democrats have invited residents of the Newtown tragedy to attend the State of Union address. The GOP has invited noted misogynist asshole Ted Nugent, who runs around telling everyone to suck on his machine gun, who has made veiled threats against President Obama’s life and called him “a piece of shit,” and who called Hillary Clinton “worthless bitch” to attend the State of the Union address:
Renegade right-winger Ted Nugent recently went on a vicious onstage rant in which he threatened the lives of Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Decked out in full-on camouflage hunting gear, Nugent wielded two machine guns while raging, “Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun. Hey Hillary,” he continued. “You might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.” Nugent summed up his eloquent speech by screaming “freedom!”
Who wants to talk about both sides do it?
Let’s face it, this is what normal’s become in America, isn’t it?
In the Era Before There Was A Black Man In The White House – which is to say, the entirety of American history up to and including January 19, 2008 – it would have been inconceivable for a member of Congress to invite an ignorant hack like Ted Nugent to attend the State of the Union Address. It would have been inconceivable for a man who’d not just called the president “a piece of shit,” but who’d “told him to suck on my machine gun” to be invited to the State of the Union. And it most certainly would have been inconceivable for that ignorant hack to be invited to the State of the Union after saying that the president is “attempting to re-implement the tyranny of King George that we escaped from in 1776. And if you want another Concord Bridge, I got some buddies.”
Nope. If a feeble-minded hackish guitar player had said any of those things about a White president, his career would have been over. He’d have never been invited on another television show, let alone into the halls of Congress for the State of the Union. He would have been a pariah, because that was what normal was in the Era Before There Was A Black Man In The White House.
Normal today, of course, is this. A Republican Congressman not only invites the hack who said all those things, but says of the hack:
I am excited to have a patriot like Ted Nugent joining me in the House Chamber to hear from President Obama.
Nugent’s patriotic, see, because he told a Black president to suck on his machine gun and threatened to start another revolution. That’s patriotism when there’s a Black man in the White House.
And yet, the President’s critics, left and right, want us to ignore the fact that this is our normal these days. They want us to brush off the constant racist attacks the man faces, pretend that’s not an essential part of our political dynamic, as if he’s not being held to a different standard than every other president ever.
Hey, you want to criticize the president, have at it. But if you attack him for not getting things done but ignore the tidal wave of racism he faces every day, you’re part of the problem.
Situation normal, people. There’s your fucking snafu.

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