FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

My “Catch-22” Moment

Photo by Nathaniel St. Clair

Donald Trump is trying to get me killed.  While this may seem rhetorically overblown, especially coming from a white heterosexual middle class male, it is hard to escape the feeling that he is threatening my survival as a compassionate citizen of the United States. I certainly am not a target of his racist, misogynist, and/or xenophobic rants although my Jewish atheist antagonism to the alt-right, evangelicals, and the NRA may put me in his cult supporters’ crosshairs.  Moreover, as a militant advocate for immigrant rights and Black Lives Matter, my political postures are not only antithetical to his Administration’s policies, but also politically-charged in this polarized time.

But are these reasons enough to believe that I am at risk of losing my life? Beyond his warmongering tweets, most recently against Iran, and his Administration’s legislative initiatives against the health and welfare of our fragile planet, am I suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome, a mental condition supposedly affecting those who lack all perspective on what Trump and Trumpism historically epitomize – a white racist nationalism that has a long history in U.S. political culture.

On the other hand, I have no doubt that Trump is a Russian asset, or more specifically a liability for the Russian oligarchs who bankrolled his losing business ventures, including the network of golf clubs he visits constantly for which we as taxpayers foot the bill for his entourage.  Indeed, it is hard to explain his constant obeisance to Putin and his denial of Russian military intelligence meddling in the 2016 election without expressing concern about more nefarious connections and compromises. Nonetheless, the hysteria around Trump’s Russophile behavior seems like a revisiting of Cold War ideology even though Putin actually represents a right-wing, not left-wing, authoritarianism on the march around the globe.

No, my “catch-22” moment is directly related to the characters of Yossarian and Milo Minderbinder in Joseph Heller’s 1961 WWII novel.  Yossarian’s insistence that he be excused from flying missions that might result in his death indicates to those who could release him from combat duty that he is sane and, therefore, not eligible for disqualification on grounds of insanity. So, in my case (and maybe many others reading this) my fear of being put at risk by the malignant narcissist acts of an unhinged and reckless President Trump may be a rational form of paranoia, the kind that informs Yossarian’s efforts to survive.

More to the point, when Yossarian attempts to administer morphine to his mortally wounded crewmate, Snowden, and to inflate his own life jacket with CO2, he discovers that Milo Minderbinder has replaced this essential gear with shares in his M&M Enterprises. Minderbinder, like Trump, is all about branding and seeking profit at all costs even if it means defrauding those who either voluntarily or involuntarily buy into his transnational business arrangements. Both Minderbinder and Trump insist they are geniuses whose selfish practices are in the best interests of those dependent on them. Minderbinder even organizes an attack by the Germans on his own airbase to enhance his standing with his business partners.

One critic has called Milo Minderbinder a “prophet of profit” and the “embodiment of evil.” Certainly, the megalomania and charlatanism of Minderbinder have uncanny and unnerving resonances with Trump. Heller’s portrait of Minderbinder should remind us that such scam artists and opportunists are too endemic in the history of this country to import the scary fascist figures of a Mussolini or Hitler in this summer of our discontent.

My “catch-22” moment will, hopefully, be a fleeting one.  Certainly, contending with the Trump regime and his Republican enablers often reduces me to the kind of response of wanting, as one critic of the novel wrote, to “cry for laughing” and “laugh for crying,” On the other hand, my identification with Yossarian, going back to my first activist days in the sixties, reminds me that is our active desire for survival with dignity and compassion that will, sooner or later, trump Trump, defeating, in the process, the Orange Menace is our midst.

More articles by:

Fran Shor is a Michigan-based retired teacher, author, and political activist.  

November 20, 2018
John Davis
Geographies of Violence in Southern California
Anthony Pahnke
Abolishing ICE Means Defunding it
Maximilian Werner
Why (Mostly) Men Trophy Hunt: a Biocultural Explanation
Masturah Alatas
Undercutting Female Circumcision
Jack Rasmus
Global Oil Price Deflation 2018 and Beyond
Geoff Dutton
Why High Technology’s Double-Edged Sword is So Hard to Swallow
Binoy Kampmark
Charges Under Seal: US Prosecutors Get Busy With Julian Assange
Rev. William Alberts
America Fiddles While California Burns
Forrest Hylton, Aaron Tauss and Juan Felipe Duque Agudelo
Remaking the Common Good: the Crisis of Public Higher Education in Colombia
Patrick Cockburn
What Can We Learn From a Headmaster Who Refused to Allow His Students to Celebrate Armistice Day?
Clark T. Scott
Our Most Stalwart Company
Tom H. Hastings
Look to the Right for Corruption
Edward Hunt
With Nearly 400,000 Dead in South Sudan, Will the US Finally Change Its Policy?
Thomas Knapp
Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago
November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” Given Their Record in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail