March 10, 2024
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Rags and Bones

by Jonathan Wallace

Superman Ain't Saving Shit

Rachel Maddow said on air some words which I amplify as follows: No one will save us from Donald Trump except ourselves. For years, we have counted on designated heroes including FBI and intelligence agents preparing reports, special prosecutors conducting investigations, civil and criminal court judges, Congressfolk impeaching him, and most recently, candidates running against him for the Republican nomination, and secretaries of state removing him from the ballot. All have been laughably ineffectual, reminiscent of the Hollywood fake-out in which Stephen Seagal or Samuel Jackson turns up to rescue everyone, then dies in a minute.

The last remaining solution is that in November, enough people will have to vote for Joe Biden, to defeat Donald Trump. It makes perfect sense that democracies are to be saved only by voting. The wish for a hero was itself a symptom of our decline.

The Monster's Ball

Sadly (as I have always known) a two party system isn't much of a democracy at all. I analogize the choice in November to a selection between the Wolfman and Godzilla. I am fairly certain Godzilla will lay waste to the country, and probably step on my house. We have a better chance of controlling and surviving the wolf. In a parliamentary democracy, I would be able to vote for someone whose values I really shared and whom I even possibly trusted-- delegating the authority to that person, and party, to make the deal with the devil which here in our system I must make myself.

Holding Out

One of the major contributing factors to our dilemma, my entire life, has been good people not voting, when the bad are undeterred. I can understand disappointed, angry and harmed Americans not going to the polls, especially Arab Americans (and anyone else who cares that we are supporting a genocide in Gaza). Unfortunately, November will be a referendum on a very stark choice: Shall we give our badly wounded system some time and space to recover, or shall we drown it immediately, Yes/ No. Staying home in November is a vote to kill it. If you could selfishly vote against America's survival, and then retire to a safe space station or within a force field, as the billionaires hope to do, you would be voting against the lives, safety, health and economic security only of the people you presumably despise. But in this real world, most of us would be voting against our own. So a vote for the Wolfman will for most of us also be an act of self-preservation.


As I recently said in this column, studying the use of words turned out to be a major focus of the Spectacle I never anticipated. Here is one of the most fascinating and appalling ever: "Unsafe". Every day, in my pro bono practice, I am encountering cases in which anonymous complainants at universities allege that students or faculty reading Palestinian poetry,or using "settler colonialism" or "Zionism" in a sentence, or writing the names on a blackboard of Palestinian children who died under Israeli bombs, are making them feel "unsafe". This week, I saw two accounts of people feeling unsafe at the sight of a Palestinian scarf, a kaffiyeh. The recent claim by Trumpian Republicans that diversity, equity and inclusion programs on campus breed anti-Semitism, run through my English-to-English translator, emerges: "Allowing black and brown-skinned people on campus makes white people feel unsafe". That is all.