The Autumn of the Patriot
(With apologies to Gabriel García Márquez)
When the movers got into the White House by backing their trucks up against the loading dock and prying open the entrance for the arrival of the next first family, dawn of the new era, the men recoiled at the stagnant air billowing from the opening, a rotting smell hermetically sealed by too many years of deceit and comfort from the belief that a nation is strong and stable as long as no one can permeate the bastion of denial, that a democracy is the greatest thing ever invented, mother, you get who you deserve, because tyranny can never be identified by the people who have chosen you to protect their self-serving ideals that they believe are best for everyone whether or not those believers have contemplated the possibility that another opinion might be considered, even worthy of being heard, as long as the volume of the noise from the patriot and his flunkies can dispel any sense of reality from people so accustomed to being shouted down, disregarding the validity of the argument, as long as it can be repeated ad nauseam so that no matter the original premise it has long been forgotten as the wave of repetition becomes the only truth worth repeating, the leitmotif that can be swallowed and subsumed into the construct of our captain, the benevolent leader of our country, always acting in our best interest, protecting us not only from our enemies but from our baser instincts, including ourselves, by a commander so righteous, so aware of our needs that no one need question the pathway he himself has ignominiously chosen for us, a decider granted with divine authority who can see into the future whoever our enemies might be and smite them before they can wreak havoc on chosen people whose destiny only the decider can comprehend in spite of the liberals who would sell the nation to a bunch of international renegades, who would sanctify the United Nations and all manner of undesirables and degenerates into believing that mankind has an obligation to consider the humanity of others, especially foreigners and immigrants, gays and abortionists, who want to invade our fortress of independence and unilateralism to determine how the state and the world shall be run in the face of evidence that homogeneity has always served us in past eras and that white is not only right but might and light and insight and that no amount of multi-culturalism can smite a past that has proven beneficial to more people than any system in mankind’s glorious history or anywhere on God’s created earth for people who no matter where they were born, or what their faith or identity, who always, always want to sneak into our country, even if some of them want to harm us, because a nation as great as ours will always have to build fences around its parameters to keep out people the entire world over who no matter what we do to them will overcome impossible obstacles to become one with us, to replicate us, to be absorbed into the fabric of our identity that they too will no longer question the exhortations of our decider in shaping our character in spite of strengthening the position of his cronies by providing them with privilege that cannot be questioned or debated, by granting them unparalleled profit from our actions overseas, by decrees that permit his agencies to read our mail, to listen to our conversations, to snoop into our most private lives, to cancel all oversight of government agencies, to torture our enemies, all for the good of the nation, a nation at war, in order to create a sense of fear and justification for draconian restrictions that few can comprehend and question, because democracy is the pinnacle of man’s quest for perfection, and the leader who can implement whatever he deems necessary to help us in our reckoning with those who would deign to suggest otherwise is the patriarch we all deep in our hearts revere and deify and support, even in the face of isolation and solitude and the uncountable years of his benevolence and unstinting concern that he alone can know what is best for us, that a lie no matter how doubtful, that power no matter how corrosive, can fool most of the people most of the time, and even a tyrant or a buffoon, no matter how egregious, no matter how remote and how unapproachable, how delusive of his own assuredness in his belief that he alone can be right, that he is the true decider, our greatest patriot, and that time will validate his statesmanship, that history can be read backwards and erase the most troubling decisions of his autumn, that even when the endless cycles of his tenure come to their pathetic finality there is still never an assurance that the jubilant crowds dancing to the music of their liberation and the belief that all their many problems can instantly be corrected by his successor, that eternity is self-renewing from the centrifuge of the maelstrom, but with a hasty repression of recent events, with no analysis of the abuses that forced us to the brink, that the nation and its people can begin to start consuming once again.
CHARLES R. LARSON is Professor of Literature at American University in Washington, D.C. His books include Under African Skies, Worlds of Fiction, The Ordeal of the African Writer and Academia Nuts. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org