I can’t NOT do something with a piece my long time friend Jim Kunstler wrote recently, see below, since he so completely encapsulates the ghost of our time. I can’t, because this goes to my heart. It started out a year ago with people wanting to tear down statues, and now we have progressed to world literature, and even Looney Tunes. Jim turns to Winnie the Pooh because he’s sort of the ultimate anti-bad guy.
I mailed Jim to give him my compliments for the piece, and tell him of Automatic Earth commenter V. Arnold’s “That Kunstler piece is just…just…just…just incredibly excellent… I never in my life read such an excellent piece of literature…aimed at todays world… Kunstler rules…Thanks Ilargi…”, and he replied: “Raul – Why thank you for that lavish compliment. I felt a little insecure about the Winnie burlesque. Very reassuring to hear that it was appreciated.”
What I said about the statues “cancelling” when it happened was that it would be endless, and therefore useless. But literature is way worse. Literature, books, made me who I am, just like watching Rembrandt and van Gogh, and listening to Mozart and Bach, and yes, people may have had different views 400 or 2,000 years ago, but this is our history, this is where we come from, this is who we are. And trying to deny who we are won’t make us any less so.
I’m not particularly in favor of erecting statues of Hitler, or Stalin, or Mao, but trying to erase the worst of mankind from our memories won’t make them go away. A slaveholder will still always be the first president of the United States, and its capital will also still be named after him. And this is repeated in a million places and names around the world, and perhaps we should leave all those things and aim to do better today, instead of cancelling and erasing yesterday, because that may well increase the risk that such acts will rise again, and we’ll have nothing left to remind us.
But I care more about literature than I do about statues of US civil war generals. Though at the same time I do wonder what it would take to lead some people to start questioning Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci, or Rodin, and then we would be back at square one anyway, this thing is truly endless. And there’s always something that people in the past have said or thought or done that someone in 2021 can find fault with. And that may leave them to find fault in 2021, when black and brown girls and boys are still bombed into oblivion.
In essence, it’s simply a question of nobodies trying to cancel the work of geniuses, until we’re all nobodies. Art is the ultimate expression of what the human mind is capable of, other than love and compassion. What we’ve recently seen “attempting to be cancelled” are fantastic works like To Kill a Mockingbird, Odyssey, Dr. Seuss, and you wonder when they’ll get around to Shakespeare and the Bible. They will.
And yesterday we see the cancel culture targeting Pepé Le Pew. Good golly, Batman, once you start going through the Looney Tunes catalogue, it’s hard to see how any of it would survive. And how about Disney? Meanwhile, today’s kids are playing “Grand Theft Auto” and “Call of Duty”. How lost are we? Do I want my MTV, or do I want my Dostojevsky? Well, I want it all. And the classics, and the Bard.
And I don’t want you to cancel culture any of it away from me. Because it’s what made me who I am. And I know what’s good about it, and what’s not. I can think, and I don’t need or want you to think for me. This is so important to me that I find it hard to find both the rationale and the emotion to express it. Cut it out. As I said the other day, there’s no difference between book banning and book burning.
From his site, kunstler.com, here’s Jim Kunstler’s ultimate, brilliant take on it:
A solemn silence turned collective gasp in the District of Columbia Woke Circuit courtroom as two bailiffs entered the door beside the jury box with the small cream-colored bear suspended between them, his stumpy hind legs wheeling fruitlessly to seek purchase in the unavailing air. The Queen of Hearts, presiding, banged her gavel as the little bear was seated at the table for the defense beside another rather small, darkish, furtive figure.
The Queen of Hearts peered over her half-glasses at the defendant and snarled, “State your full name and residence.”
“Winnie-the-Pooh,” the defendant said. “From the Hundred Acre Wood.”
“What is your personal pronoun?”
The bear looked perplexed. “Oh, bother,” he said. “Nobody I know has such a thing?”
“Of course they do,” the Queen said.
“Perhaps it’s ‘the’,” the bear said.
“That is a definite article, not a pronoun!” the Queen barked. “Are you an imbecile?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe it’s ‘dear’”—
“That’s enough out of you!” the Queen said. “And let’s have no more impertinence! Do you have counsel?”
“Why, yes,” the bear said. “Mr. Kafka, who is seated beside me.”
“You are mistaken,” the Queen said. “That is a cockroach seated beside you, and the court is displeased to see it. Bailiff, please remove that disgusting cockroach from my court.”
Mr. Kafka, gesticulating in protest with all six arms and legs, had to be dragged out.
“First witness!” the Queen screeched. “Counsel for the prosecution….”
“Calling Uncle Remus,” said the prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, famous for his exploits in the Enron case and with The Mueller Team in the old Russia collusion days.
An elderly gentleman-of-color with white beard and a kindly face limped forward and took the witness stand.
“Do you know this bear?” Weissmann asked.
“I knows a Brer B’ar,” Uncle Remus said. “But he a black b’ar. Dishyere one a white b’ar.”
“Exactly!” Weissmann said. “Dismissed.”
“Dat all?” Uncle Remus asked.
“It’s plenty,” Weissmann retorted and smirked at the jury, composed of members from the United Federation of Teachers, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Antifa, who all nodded amongst themselves.
“A white bear!” Weissmann repeated for emphasis, shaking his head. “And not a polar bear, either. A white bear. From England. Think about it…!”
The jurors emitted growls of opprobrium.
“Next witness,” the Queen cried.
“Calling N-Word Jim,” Weissmann said.
A strapping middle-aged gentleman-of-color, dressed in ragged clothes, strode to the witness chair.
“You reside in libraries all over the world, is that correct?” the attorney asked.
“Yassuh, dat is so. But I’se originally fum Hannibal, Missouri.”
“Are you acquainted with the defendant?”
“I done seen him on many a shelf ‘round de worl’.”
“How much shelf space does he occupy compared to you?”
“Well, fur as I knows, ‘bout double.”
“Does that seem fair to you?”
“Way I sees it, he in mebbe twice as minny books as me and Huck.”
“Huck! Who is this Huck?”
“White boy I done made a journey down de ribber wif one time.”
“What is your experience with white folks, Jim?”
“Well, dey runs mos’ everything, I ‘spect. Leas’ as fur as I kin see.”
“Exactly!” Weissmann argued. “Is it not white privilege to — as you say — run everything?” he added, shaking his head gravely. “Hegemonizing and colonizing literature everywhere you look.”
“Say, what…?” the witness rejoined and pulled his chin.
“You can go back to your raft, Jim,” Weissmann said. “Dismissed. Calling Mr. Christopher Robin.”
A very old man, bent and trembling, shuffled forward to the stand, leaning on his brass-headed cane.
“You’ve been acquainted with the defendant for how many years?”
“Oh, yes, many, since…let’s see… uh, nineteen hundred and twenty-six, I’d say.”
“In all those years, did he ever… touch you?”
“We held hands. And hugged frequently.”
“I see,” Weissmann sneered. “And this ‘touching’ started when you were, what? About five years old?”
“I suppose. Yes. It was a very long time ago.”
“Do you recall an incident involving the defendant, a person named Piglet, and a broken balloon?”
“Yes… yes, I do!”
“That was not really a balloon, was it, Mr. Robin?”
“At the time, I thought…”
“You thought!” Weissmann barked. “We all think, don’t we? Sometimes maybe a little too much! I’ll tell you what I think: I think the jury can see exactly what was going on between you and the defendant, this very privileged bear. And if they think the way I do — that is, as a normal person with healthy morals — they’ll think that this was depraved behavior on the part of this bear, routinely abusing a five-year-old boy, year after year after year!”
The jury members all nodded avidly and buzzed between themselves.
Christopher Robin looked up at the bench.
“Balloon, indeed!” the Queen snorted, wagging her finger at both the bear and Christopher Robin. “I think we’ve heard enough.”
“No! I have one other witness,” Weissmann said. “Calling Peter Pan….”
A figure wearing a leaf-green tunic and tights, and a feathered cap, flew across the room and landed in the witness seat.
“You’ve had occasion to work at the Disney Studios with the defendant, have you not?”
“I would see him around the lot on lunch breaks,” Pan said. “But we weren’t on the same pictures — except one time for a TV Christmas special where we all did cameos.”
“And what was your impression of this bear?”
“He made a crack about not believing in fairies. I didn’t know if he was kidding or not.”
“Were you hurt by that remark?”
“Not personally, but I saw what it did to my sidekick, Tinkerbelle. Her light almost went out.”
“Your honor, ladies, gentlemen, and non-binaries of the jury, We have definitely heard enough.”
“The defense rests!” the Queen of Hearts screeched. “Mr. Pooh, you have led a life of disgusting racism, colonialism, hate-ism, white supremacy, and depravity. I am directing the jury to find you guilty as charged and sentence you to be cancelled.” She pounded the bench with her gavel.
“Oh, bother,” Winnie the Pooh said, still perplexed and bewildered.
“Take him out, burn all those wicked books of his, and put him on top of the fire.”
“Lawks a’mercy,” Uncle Remus cried from the back of the room.
“See you up in sweet Beulah-land, Pooh, honey,” N-Word Jim said.
“Next case!” the Red Queen yelled above the commotion. “The people versus Robin Hood and his so-called Merry Men.”
Fade to black….
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