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MOREOVER, as Waller notes, “Popular culture also mocked the Axis powers — not after a decent interval following a given incident or atrocity, but from the start.” The same could be said of the Onion’s special 9/11 issue published shortly after the terrorist attacks. What American couldn’t take cathartic relief in articles like “Hijackers Surprised to Find Selves in Hell”? And what Islamist fanatic could respond to that?
As Alinksy notes, ridicule “infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.” Terrorism aside, ridicule is also a powerful weapon against those who want to tell us what we can drink, eat, and watch, whom we can hire, where we can work — in short, against those want to stick their noses where they don’t belong.
As Waller rightly notes, tyrants “require a controlled political environment, reinforced by sycophants and toadies, to preserve an impenetrable image. Some are more tolerant of reasoned or principled opposition but few of satire or ridicule.” Yet even democratic governments require a certain level of control in their management of all their affairs, especially in diplomacy. What government could, even in jest, vow “to defeat whoever we’re at war with”?
State actors are ill-suited to exploit ridicule. And that’s just as well. As Waller notes, ridicule is a dictator’s worst nightmare, but it is more than that: It is freedom’s friend, and as such, an unreliable tool of governments, no matter how democratic.
Rulers simply don’t do humor well. If “a picture is worth a thousand words,” notes the introduction to Clods’ Letters to Mad, a 1970s compendium of the most unintentionally funny letters submitted to Mad magazine, then “a funny picture is worth a thousand Chinese proverbs” — especially if it’s of the emperor.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?