The Reactionary Utopian
                     March 26, 2007

by Joe Sobran

     My enemies, who call themselves "the United States 
Government," appear formidable at first glance. They have 
a global empire (democracy, you know), the power to make 
arbitrary laws, a vast prison system, the Internal 
Revenue Service (service? Well, no doubt it's serving 
someone), the allegiance of the American people, plus a 
few thousand nuclear weapons, and not too many scruples.

     Me, I'm just one stroke-addled old man with a cane. 
All I have on my side is Jesus. It hardly seems fair.

     I mean, what chance have they got?

     The ancient Romans proved that you could beat Jesus. 
Once. If he let you.

     But let's look at the enemy's mightiest asset, the 
American people. Or rather, to speak to you like an 
honest man, the ignorance of the American people, who are 
semi-literate, innumerate, and up to speed only on 
AMERICAN IDOL and what journalists call "lingering 
questions about the death of Anna Nicole Smith."

     Politicians always use the phrase "the American 
people" with profound reverence. Senator Barack Obama 
speaks of "the basic decency of the American people," who 
elect men like him and George W. Bush and make tycoons of 
men like Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt. No wonder our 
definition of "basic decency" has changed somewhat since 
Pat Boone crooned "Love Letters in the Sand."

     In his new book, RELIGIOUS LITERACY 
(HarperSanFrancisco), Stephen Prothero of Boston 
University notes that about half the American people 
can't name the first book of the Bible or any of the four 
Gospels. Roughly the same number identify the man who 
delivered the Sermon on the Mount as Martin Luther King. 
Care to guess how many know whom King was named after?

     And many think Joan of Arc was married to Noah. Arc, 
Ark: Natural mistake, I guess. The Maid of Orleans would 
have been swept up in the New Orleans flood. Who can keep 
these things straight?

     Heckuva job, Mr. Education President! After all, you 
never claimed to be the Pedant President, did you? And 
this didn't start on your watch. If the American people 
sound like the hicks in HUCKLEBERRY FINN being bamboozled 
by a pair of rogues nearly as dumb as they are, well, 
it's nothing new.

     That's what makes Mark Twain so funny. Anyone can 
write a satire about smart people outfoxing dumb people. 
Twain shows dumb people, his bogus "duke" and "king," 
outfoxing even dumber people. Yet he makes his dumbest 
character, a runaway slave, sublimely wise and lovable. 
That's genius for sure.

     No wonder Twain's greatest novel is still unfit for 
American schools. He actually shows his white Southern 
characters, before the Civil War, using a slang racial 
epithet about black slaves. (Even his slaves use it about 
themselves.) Think how much better his book would be if 
all his characters had used the term "African American." 
Maybe -- or should I say "hopefully"? -- the next edition 
will correct it.

     Bill Clinton, no mean bamboozler himself and 
measurably smarter than his dupes, knew how to make the 
most of the educational level of the American people. He 
understood that even hicks are more apt to fall for 
whoppers if spoken in complete sentences. (I will venture 
the suspicion -- I can suppress it no longer -- that 
Twain might find much to laugh at in today's America.)

     If there is a single document the American people 
venerate even more than the Holy Bible, it is surely the 
U.S. Constitution. Even atheists worship it. I am now 
taking bets -- are you listening, Professor Prothero? -- 
on whether they know any more about the supreme law of 
the land than they do about the Scriptures.

     The Bible and the Constitution. President Bush has 
sworn on the one to uphold the other, so this could get 
interesting. Especially considering that his foreign 
policy seems to be based on the book of Revelation 
(sometimes called Apocalypse, but let's not go into 
that). For those of you who may be Americans, that's the 
last book of the Bible, right after II Ben-Hur.

     I'm not just talking about things everyone used to 
be taught; I'm talking about things a body could hardly 
help knowing, even if he was barely photosensitive. 
Nothing against the American people, but today the dunce 
cap is obsolete.


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