Banana Republic Update! Exactly a week ago in this space, I wrote:
Speaking of lèse-majesté, even when our sovereign liege lord is not present, it is improper to disrespect him. For example, Friday's Fourth of July parade in Norfolk, Nebraska included a float with a wooden outhouse labeled "Obama Presidential Library". According to the gentlemen of the press, the float has "drawn criticism".
And we can't have that, can we?
'Norfolk City Councilman Dick Pfeil told the Omaha World-Herald that he was unhappy with the float, and he wanted to make clear the city had not approved it.'
Because nothing better exemplifies the spirit of Independence Day than having your float approved by the government.
Well, the good news is that Eric Holder's Department of Justice - that would be the same Department of Justice that supplies guns to Mexican drug gangs, and monitors the phone calls and emails of US journalists, and declines to investigate the IRS' obstruction of justice, and prosecutes states that seek to verify the immigration status of people within their borders, etc, etc - Eric Holder's Department of Justice has dispatched a crack team of agents to Nebraska to investigate said act of lèse-majesté toward King Barack:
The department sent a member of its Community Relations Service team, which gets involved in discrimination disputes, to a Thursday meeting about the issue. Also at the meeting were the NAACP, the Norfolk mayor and The Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
The Odd Fellows organized the parade. One of the floats included a zombie-like mannequin standing near an outhouse labeled "Obama Presidential Library."
The jest was well-received:
While the float did not sit well with Democrats, Liz Guthrie, a resident of Pierce, Neb., said that from her vantage point, she could hear the assembled crowd laughing and clapping as the float passed by. Guthrie took a photo of the float which has since gone viral on social media sites.
But so what if the ingrate peasants like it? You could hardly ask for a more poignant image of the grim state of American liberty in the 21st century than a Fourth of July float being investigated by the Attorney-General for mocking the President. As I usually say round about this point, George III wouldn't have done this to you. But it's true, he wouldn't.
Here's a British political cartoon from 1798 by Richard Newton, showing John Bull (the archetypal patriotic English everyman) farting in the King's face while the Prime Minister, Pitt the Younger, looks on disapprovingly:
Say what you like about George III, but he didn't demand his Attorney General, Sir John Scott, dispatch a team of investigators to harass and intimidate Mr Newton. Nor, come to that, did the reviled John Ashcroft's Department of Justice "investigate" those acclaimed novels and movies salivating about Bush's assassination.
But in America in 2014 you can't hang a sign on an outhouse door saying "Obama Presidential Library" without attracting the attention of Eric Holder's goon squad.
In National Review three years ago, I wrote about my own experience of having my jokes "investigated" by the British Columbia "Human Rights" Tribunal:
I read The Joke, Milan Kundera's first novel, when I was a schoolboy. Bit above my level, but, even as a teenager, I liked the premise. Ludvik is a young man in post-war, newly Communist Czechoslovakia. He's a smart, witty guy, a loyal Party member with a great future ahead of him. His girlfriend, though, is a bit serious. So when she writes to him from her two-week Party training course enthusing about the early-morning calisthenics and the "healthy atmosphere," he scribbles off a droll postcard:
'Optimism is the opium of the people! A healthy atmosphere stinks of stupidity! Long live Trotsky! Ludvik.'
A few weeks later, he's called before a committee of the District Party Secretariat. He tries to explain he was making a joke. Immediately they remove him from his position at the Students Union; then they expel him from the Party, and the university; and shortly thereafter he's sent to work in the mines. As a waggish adolescent, I liked the absurdity of the situation in which Ludvik finds himself. Later, I came to appreciate that Kundera had skewered the touchiness of totalitarianism, and the consequential loss of any sense of proportion.
How strange that all the old absurdist gags of Eastern Europe circa 1948 now fit so neatly into American life in the second decade of the third millennium. From the southern border to IRS head office, America is slipping down the outhouse of history.
~My apologies for the absence of Mark's Mailbox yesterday. I'm afraid we're all a bit tied up with my legal battles with the climate mullahs right now. I'll try to get to some of your letters in the course of the week, and in the meantime thank you for your ongoing support for my pushback against Michael E Mann and his hockey stick.