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I was a medium size kid when mother decided I should see the great WW II hero, Dwight David Eisenhower who’d become President. All but the blackest of the family’s disgraced sheep were Chicago Democrats, a political class all its own. Cronyism and patronage ran many functions in The Windy, so most of the family went the way the wind blew. It wasn’t politics that inspired my mother to drag little Harry to stand along a parade route waiting for the great man to pass by. She may have hoped I’d be inspired or could at least claim to have seen Ike in person. But when you are a kid in a crowd most of what you see is fannies and elbows. I saw plenty of those each time I was dragged through Goldblatz Department Store on Cicero. Mom probably made an effort to boost me up or assist so I’d some way or other get a good view of Eisenhower. Thing is, I don’t remember seeing Ike. I was fussed and therefore distracted, not only being jostled by rumps and handbags, but by having to stand a long time dressed up nicely so Ike would notice me. Did mother think he’d make note of a little boy in shorts with suspenders and his best western shirt with a bow tie and hair with a recently spit on cowlick? I bet those details didn’t make it into his memoirs. When Ike finally drove by and I was waving while being further jostled I’m sure I’d had about as much hero worship as a boy needed. I was ready for home where I could be a kid in play clothes.
But, I do remember one thing. At the end of the parade when many of the fannies and elbows dispersed I saw the final open car with a pole sticking up from the back seat. From the pole hung an effigy of Harry S Truman, so I suppose whatever other reasons were behind the parade politics was one. I’d never seen anyone hung in effigy or otherwise and thought it a very bad thing to see. I might have been a fussy little kid ready for food, water, and home, but I knew enough to not think well of people who’d hang an effigy in a parade and act as if doing so was civilized behavior. Now of course, my disapproval might only have been from seeing an effigy with my name on it, but I think I disfavored all forms of hanging regardless of name. It just didn’t seem right. What sort of hero had followers who’d do a disgraceful thing?
I was reminded of my childhood exposure to Ike in a parade and of seeing Harry S hung when I heard people tell of something similar in the Twin Cities at State Fair time. The story was of a life size (inflatable I’d guess) effigy called Slug a Chump. The Chump had a big head of wild yellow hair, so guess who that was. I don’t favor banning things like effigy hanging or chump slugging because in a way it’s a healthy reminder to see to what demeaning and nasty levels the body politic will go. Does someone actually believe a hung effigy or punching bag represents what we need? Now maybe that’s the best some of them can come up with, which is worrisome because you have to figure they will vote with the same mental apparat aimed at bloodletting. Where’s the constructive positive message or position? If your solution is as bad as or worse than the supposed problem then why bother? If you need to vent temper go kick a dog. Yes, kick a dog. Go do that. Hopefully the dog will bite back and you’ll get a useful insight.
From Eisenhower to today is a fair patch of US history. Wish I could say things looked better. For those who will come to the conclusion I’m somehow defending Trump, I wonder how you got there. But then people often come back from places they’ve never been with announcements about who was there with them regardless of there being any fact on the matter. I did wonder if there’d been a Boot a Bama thing to kick around any of the previous eight State Fairs. I’d not be surprised if there was as that sort of cheapness does get passed off as politics all too often. Again, I’m not for banning free expression, but I am very much in favor of keeping a wary eye on those who lean heavily and often on such expression. How about you? Wouldn’t you rather know who it is that’s ready to use mockery and soft violence? Reminds me a little of keeping an eye on the kid who starts out torturing a kitten on the way to working their way up to drugging others to drill holes in their heads so they’ll make better sex slaves. The manner of expression does reflect on the accrual or functional content of the beliefs behind the expressions.
As a political Even Steven imagine any time in the past eight years the reaction a large eared, dark skinned blow up kick-it doll would have got. Would the reaction be ugly politics or ugly racism? Is one uglier than the other? And does racism become any prettier when the scorn spot has yellow hair or is tattooed and colored blue like an ancient Pict? Is it not objectionable because the Picts are not a popular minority or there are too few of them to complain? At some point a responsible citizen should require her or his head to step in to regulate the whim of an emotion. The result might be like my Democrat mother taking her son to see Eisenhower the Republican. She rose above the pettiness of politics because she was a bigger woman than that