Of Racists, Rump, and Tiki Torches

The hits, as they say, just keep on coming. Since the last Media Circus, Mad King Rump has ratcheted up his already inflammatory statements about a potential nuclear war with North Korea, which is of course led by the equally demented Kim Jong-un. Just think — the two men with the most ridiculous haircuts on Planet Earth will be responsible for its destruction.

I haven’t thought so much about being vaporized by an atom bomb since I was in first grade, when my elementary school ran a test to determine how fast we could all make it safely home in the event that Russian A-bombs would rain down from the skies over our little steel mill town in western Pennsylvania. That way we’d all be turned to ash in the loving but equally ashen arms of our mothers instead of on school property; Fairmount Elementary School thus could not be held liable for damages, as it would be if the school district employed the old “duck and cover” strategy that would have kept us under our little desks at the time of detonation.


We returned to school in the afternoon and reported our times: “Jimmy?” “Three minutes.” “Linda?” “Five minutes.” “Billy?” “Two minutes.” “Eddie?” “Fourteen minutes.”

A hush fell over the classroom as everyone — including me — thought to themselves, “Eddie’s gonna die.”

But enough about my carefree childhood. We now know that we’re all going to die! The 163,000 residents of Guam will apparently be the first to go up in a mushroom cloud of smoke. Fox News, always fair and balanced, initially announced on a graphic, “Total Americans affected: 3,831,” when of course all 163,000 Guamanians — yes, that’s what they are named — are as American as anyone who writes the shit they broadcast on Fox News is, Guam being an American territory and all. As Gene Park reports on washingtonpost.com, “The video was later updated, labeling them as active-duty U.S. troops. The other lives? Ignored. But at least the video is a bit more honest about the focus.”

Bloomberg News and other media outlets reported that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told the press, “It could escalate into war very quickly — yes, that’s called war. If they shoot at the United States, I’m assuming they hit the United States — if they do that, then it’s ‘game on.’”

While it was most helpful of “Mad Dog” Mattis to define the word “war” for anyone unfamiliar with the term, it’s disconcerting that the defense secretary thinks that “game” is an appropriate way to characterize nuclear Armageddon.

In other news, an unsigned Associated Press story on businessinsider.com reports the following incident: “A Massachusetts police department is investigating a Facebook post by a policeman who wrote ‘Hahahaha love this’” in response to the story of the neo-Nazi from Ohio who crashed his car into counter-protesters at the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, killing one person and injuring 19 others. Officer Conrad Lariviere wrote in response to the violence: “Hahahaha love this, maybe people shouldn’t block road ways.” Charming.

Almost as endearing is Lariviere’s response to getting caught and being exposed as a racist: “I am not a racist,” the good officer stated. Oh, really? Could’a fooled me.

It’s denials like this that provoked the opening of a Twitter account with the handle @YesYoureRacist, which has set out to identify the Charlottesville neo-Nazis by name through cell phone photos taken at the scene. While I’m a bit discomfited by the ample possibility of misidentification (after all, don’t all white people look more or less the same?), in the many cases in which @YesYoureRacist gets it right, I say the bastards deserve whatever comes their way.

Meanwhile, Tweeter-in-Chief Rump began his day the Monday after the Charlottesville riot with the tweet, “Heading to Washington this morning. Much work to do. Focus on trade and military. #MAGA” (What is MAGA, you may be asking. It’s shorthand for “Make America Great Again.”)

As businessinsider.com put it, “The president on Saturday decried the ‘display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides,’ seeming to equally condemn the counterprotesters gathered to oppose the white nationalists.”

Why do so many people insist on softening white supremacists and neo-Nazis by referring to them as mere “nationalists?” They were marching alongside — or actually carrying — swastika flags, fergodsake! And I question the lax “seeming to equally condemn….” “Seeming?” No, he did equally condemn the counter-protestors along with the neo-Nazis. He equated them. That’s why his remarks were the subject of such outrage across the political spectrum. As the Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and commentator Eugene Robinson hilariously opined on MSNBC’s “Hardball”: “It takes a lot to make Jeff Sessions look like a civil rights hero.”

Meanwhile, the riot provided late-night talk show hosts with an opportunity to condemn Rumpy for his obnoxious “many sides, many sides” remark; Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, and Seth Meyers all opened their shows on Monday night with sober, joke-free opening monologues about Rump’s lame response to the riot. Fallon, of course, dripped with sanctimony that even he appeared to acknowledge as such by way of the telltale smirk on his face as he read his remarks off the teleprompter. Colbert and Meyers, in notable contrast, managed to pull it off.

The fact that the white supremacists conducted a nighttime, pre-riot parade with Tiki torches was the subject of much ridicule. As both Colbert and Meyers pointed out, the makers of Tiki torches issued a stronger condemnation of white supremacy than Rump.

“Our brand is designed to enhance outdoor gatherings and to help family and friends connect with each other at home in their yard,” Tiki Brand stated in a press release, “not to support neo-Nazi closet cases who favor tight white polo shirts and muscles that wouldn’t be out of place in Fire Island Pines.” Okay, I made the second half of that up, but the first part is a direct quote.

“Mr. Trump, you didn’t have to rise to the oratorical level of FDR or JFK or Barack Obama,” or words to that effect, Seth Meyers commented; “All you had to do was rise to the level of the makers of Tiki torches.” Brilliant.

And both Colbert and Meyers drew the same comparison between Rump and an Internet retail giant in jokes about the fact that it took the president two days before he finally condemned racists without equating them with anti-racists. As Colbert commented, “Two days! Does he order his spine on Amazon Prime?”

Sadly, Rump returned that order the very next day, when he ignited a firestorm — or stormtroopers’ fire — by doubling down on his initial, neo-Nazi-supporting response, equating, in an unhinged press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower, the nation’s real patriots (who see us all as being similarly human) with people (almost all of them male) who hate his daughter for marrying a Jew and converting to Judaism, hate his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for being a Jew, and of course hating his own grandchildren for being born Jewish. I’ve got to tip my yarmulke to you, Mr. President. Whadda guy.

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