Disengagement from certain odious Americans

Waaayyy back, in the good old days when the Canadian comic Rick Mercer was still in business, he did his most outrageous and successful show called ‘TALKING TO AMERICANS’. It showed him shoving a microphone into the faces of professors, students, housewives, little old ladies, and even George Bush, asking them the most asinine questions about Canada. Such as ‘did you know we finally got electricity this year’? Among the most memorable were the questions about visiting ‘our national igloo’ and noting the fact that we had a petition to no longer put ‘our elderly to die on ice floes’; all applauded by various sane looking Americans. The highlights can be seen here https://www.buzzfeed.com/cylapanin/best-moments-from-rick-mercer-talking-to-amercans?utm_term=.hd2pQg9vOR#.xi22837Wmb.

They are a melancholy reminder of a time when we could laugh at our foibles, theirs as well as our own.

Those days are long gone. Though some Americans, by way of celebrating July 4th,  showed that not all is lost by apologizing to us on Twitter about the fascistic moron they have elected. One woman even begged some Canadian to please, please adopt her because ‘I gotta get out of here’. Humour is still alive, thriving even. I used to be among the people who could take it all lightly. After all, as Mencken once observed, angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. I have always wanted to fly with those angels, primarily because it’s more fun to live that way but also because one of the sure signs of fascism is lack of humour. Laughter in a fascist state is implicitly frowned upon, if not downright verboten. Trump is no laughing matter but that is all the more reason to laugh at him and his cultish followers.

So it came as a shock to me when, confronted by two bona fide, living Trumpists, I bailed. I took them seriously. Here is what happened: while shopping at the Bay in Victoria, there was an obviously well-heeled couple in their sixties holding up the line forming at the cash register because their credit card didn’t work. Refusing to give in, lengthy conversations with the card people ensued. Is this going to take some time, I asked. It might, answered the cashier. Since my arthritic knees and hips were protesting, I went and sat down somewhere while they continued to haggle. It turned out that they were from across the line in Washington State, building a home on one of the islands. Finally done, we were all waiting for the elevator together and I said, jokingly, well, you know we will all be one country under Trump soon, but we won’t like it. Oh, they said, we are very happy with him though we realize he sometimes says things that sound bad. Me: insulting our Prime Minister and ripping up international trade agreements really isn’t very friendly! They: Oh well, we really are very happy with Trump, but maybe we should take separate elevators? Me: yes, maybe that’s wise.

What I should have said is, my goodness, you believe in Trump yet you look so normal! Please, let’s have a civil talk, right here in the elevator.  Maybe we can sort this out? Like grownups?
That’s what I should have said, but my hip was aching and I was tired. Thus does old age and illness defeat political discourse. In my own defense, I might also have paraphrased what the great Bertrand Russell wrote to the fascist Oswald Mosley, who wanted to take him on in a public debate. Russell demurred:
I feel obliged to say that the emotional universes we inhabit are so distinct, and in deepest ways opposed, that nothing fruitful or sincere could ever emerge from association between us.
I have just become aware of this letter, and now feel that I no longer regret a wasted opportunity to dig deeper into the psyche of our times, epitomized by these nice looking, prosperous visitors from Trumpland. I was bummed out at the time, but have now recovered nicely. And, a couple of days later, I was further rescued and rejoined the angels when a friend sent me a fake Vogue cover, which I am hastening to share with you now. My son Vince thought it creepy, but I think it shows that laughter is, more than ever, a sign of sanity and freedom to disengage from odious people.IMG_0889
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