american slumber

Have you ever seen “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers”? (It’s a great film. If you haven’t seen it, you should.) In it, the main characters, a man and a woman, discover that their fellow townspeople are being replaced by imposters. These imposters are exactly the same as the originals in every way, except for the fact that they’re just a little less animated, a little less human. They speak without emotion and lumber along without any sign of joy. These imposters, we find out, are grown, in giant seed pods, while their victims sleep nearby. As the pods themselves aren’t really aggressive, the looming threat that our protagonists try to stave off throughout the film isn’t them, or even the pod people, but sleep. After trying to avoid sleep for a few days, the woman finally gives in and allows herself to close her eyes, thus giving her pod-grown twin a chance to take over… Well, today, my dad, who isn’t a religious nut by any stretch of the imagination, sent me an email chain letter about Jesus Christ. I can’t remember the details, but it was a story about a man and his son and their love for one another, and it ended with a paragraph about “another father that loved his son” very much, and how that son died on a cross for our sins. I just sat there for a moment, staring at my computer screen, and wondering if my dad had let his guard down long enough for his pod to reach maturity… I suspect that I’m not the only one who has thought on occasion that life would be significantly easier if I were just to buy into the whole evangelical mindset. Times like these, when reality is so disturbing, it’s a seductive thought. I suspect that many of us will opt to “just close our eyes for a few moments and rest” over the course of the next few years. My hope is that I can stay awake.

Here, for those of you who are still up and around, is a clip from an article written by a brit about the choice we as a nation made on Tuesday.

…But the Republican revolution will not stop there. A subplot to this week’s drama has been playing out at the supreme court, where the 80-year old Chief Justice, William Rehnquist, has been incapacitated by thyroid cancer. Few expect him to serve for much longer, giving President Bush the chance to appoint a successor. A social conservative, such as White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, is a likely nominee.

Other vacancies on the bench are imminent. Once filled, Bush will have overturned the court’s wafer-thin moderate majority. The court could set to work unravelling a 50-year settlement that has asserted the rights of women, black Americans and, more recently, homosexuals. Opposition to affirmative action or abortion rights has, until now, been a minority position in America’s highest court. That could change. And the conservative takeover of all three branches of the American government (executive, legislative and judiciary) would be complete….

Those values can be boiled down to (three) issues – abortion, guns, gays – but they represent a larger, cultural difference. One Republican analyst asks people four questions. Do you have a friend or relative serving in the military? Do you have any personal ties to rural America? Do you attend religious services on a weekly basis? Do you own a gun? Answer yes to most or all of those, and you are “a cultural conservative” and most likely vote Republican. Answer no, and the chances are you live on the east or west coast and vote Democrat.

In 2000 this cultural split was dead-even: 50-50 America. This time it was 51-49 America, with the conservatives in the majority.

Put plainly, the US is moving steadily and solidly to the right. That poses a problem for Democrats, who have to learn to speak to the people of those red states if they are ever to hold power again.

But it also poses a problem for America, which has somehow to house two radically diverging cultures in one nation. And it may even pose a problem for the rest of the world’s peoples, as they watch the sole superpower, the indispensable nation, chart a course they fear – and barely understand.

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  1. Brian
    Posted November 4, 2004 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Did you see this?

  2. Brett
    Posted November 5, 2004 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    “Body Snatchers” is a perfect metaphor, although (as i spoke about ad nauseum over at ypsidixit) I personally can’t stop feeling like Roddy Piper in ‘They Live’.

    If it’s any consolation, despite the fact that they won and have their bibles, we will always know in our hearts that the science fiction genre is truly ours, and ours alone.

    Verily, verily, in the name of the Philip K. Dick, the James Tiptree, and The Holy Asimov, amen.

  3. Posted November 5, 2004 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Mark, come on man, just give in, everybody’s doing it. Just think of the advantages. You can walk around all day in a fog of righteousness. You’ll never have to second-guess yourself ever again because as long as you follow the “program”, you’ll be walking the path of Jesus.

  4. Posted November 5, 2004 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Oh man! Is that guy in the first photo scary looking or what? It almost looks like a Halloween mask. Shouldn’t his sign say, “Finally, a Christian fighting evil-doers.”?

    And that lucky little girl in the second photo finally knows the answer to the burning question, “Just what DOES the President’s hand smell like?” My guess is Mrs. Bush.

    Brett, funny you should mention science fiction. I had a dream about book burning last night led by people waving their bibles with righteousness in their eyes. All the way in to work I was thinking about how I could save my books. It was bizarre.

    Then I started wondering just how many people around me would allow a book to be burned, as long as it wasn’t their bible. Scary thinking for a Friday morning.

    Don’t give in Mark. Avoid the pod. Maybe your dad just thought it was a nice father/son story and he sent to you because he loves you so much. He may not be a pod. Put the axe down.

  5. Posted November 5, 2004 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    The Salem Witch Trials, Redux. Mark Maynard, do you know your Ten Commandments? Do you read strange books? Do you go out in the woods alone? At night? Do you dance? Do you work on Sunday? Do you partake of frivolous entertainment when you could instead be paying homage to Jesus?

    Religion corrupts politics, and vice versa. For too long I have accommodated the idea of religion because I thought that in some cases it helped people in their lives. But clearly it is too dangerous. We must squash it before we become the Taliban (too late?). I hereby reconvene the Society for the Prevention of Religion (SPR doesn’t sound too cool–I’ll rework the title–it would be great if I could get SPECTRE (in James Bond movies, “SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion”) out of it). No, this is not a cult, but you do have to check your soul at the door. Let’s bury Jesus once and for all, dammit (he’s harder to get rid of than Freddy Krueger). Actually, maybe it is just organized religion that we need to prevent: Society for the Prevention of Organized Religion (SPOR)?

    On Columbus

  6. Posted November 6, 2004 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m buying a gun when I see Bush’s head on a terrier trying to root out the humans. (Modern Nimoy version).

    Kathleen Hannah actually said “Fuck Jesus” a couple days ago on stage.

    The smothering version of Jesus is for recovering drug addicts who need a new master. Weening them off of Jebus seems impolite, but it must be done – even to smelly old people.

  7. anonymous
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Just as timely today.

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