Archive for the ‘JERRY FALWELL’ Tag

JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: SATIRIC DIALOGUE: GEORGE BUSH IN HELL   Leave a comment

 

 

GEORGE BUSH IN HELL

John Chuckman

Opening Scene: Entrance hall in the Bush mansion in Houston where George and Laura have retired after leaving the White House.

There is grand staircase in the center, an elaborate chandelier hanging down from the ceiling, a half-table with a vase along the wall to the right, and a federal-style entrance door with brass fittings and a fan-window above on the far right.

A clicking noise is heard and the door swings open. The silhouette of George Bush is seen against dim bluish lights from the street. He pauses a few seconds and reaches for a switch on the wall, not finding it easily. When he does, sconces on the same wall as the table and vase come on, casting a warm, soft light on the scene. He awkwardly turns and closes the door quietly.

The figure starts to move forward, and it is immediately apparent from his lurching motion that he is drunk. He moves slowly, trying to prevent any noise or accidents. Nevertheless, after a few steps, he collides with the table, knocking the vase over to smash noisily on the floor.

At the top of the stairs, Laura appears in a rather elegant, flowing nightgown. She places her hands on her hips and glares hard towards George.

GEORGE: “Hi, Honey. Didn’t know ya’d still be up.”

LAURA: “I wasn’t up. You smashing the furniture woke me up.

“And don’t you ‘Honey’ me, you bastard! You’re drunk again.”

GEORGE: Moving awkwardly toward the stairs, “Aw, Laura darlin’, I jus’ had a li’le too much,” making an exaggerated measurement sign towards Laura with his finger and thumb as he speaks.

Laura doesn’t move, just glaring as George works his way slowly up the stairs, huffing and puffing and swaying as he goes.

GEORGE: “See, I’m okay, I’m getting’ up the stairs myself.”

LAURA: “You shit, you promised, not once but dozens of times.”

GEORGE: “Yah, Honey, I know, but I’m tryin’.”

LAURA: “You son of a bitch, you haven’t tried at all. You’ve embarrassed everyone in the family.

GEORGE: “Won’t happen ag’in, Hon, I promise.”

LAURA: “You’re damned right about that. It won’t happen again!” she screams. She suddenly swings her arms out violently, striking George as he nears her, sending him tumbling down the stairs

George’s body comes to a stop at the bottom of the stairs, limp and broken-looking.

Suddenly from the left comes a Secret Service agent, aroused by all the noise. He kneels at the body and checks for vital signs.

SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Looking up towards Laura, “Mrs. Bush, I’m sorry, the President is dead!”

He immediately reaches for his Blackberry and places a call for emergency services. Laura walks offstage in the direction she first came from.

SCENE TWO

We see a striking, elaborate gate, as we might expect to see at the front of a great mansion. Behind the gate is the suggestion of a lush, sunlit garden complete with the beautiful singing of birds. Despite the brilliant sunlight, the floor of the stage is covered with a thick white mist, which represents clouds scudding along. At the gate, a tall dignified figure stands holding a staff in his right hand and a book in his left.

From the right side, the figure of George appears. He isn’t drunk now, but he appears mystified by his location.

GEORGE: As he approaches the gate, “Hi, I got no idea where I am. Maybe y’all kin help?”

ST. PETER: “Yes, Mr. President, I can help you. That’s just what I’m here for.”

GEORGE: “Jeez, ya’ll know me. That’s great. I got no idea what’s goin’ on. I was comin’ home, an’ suddenly I wake up here.

“Hey, an’ I ain’t got no hangover neither.”

ST. PETER: “Mr. President, you’re dead.”

GEORGE: “Dead? How the hell kin that be?”

ST. PETER: “You came home drunk, and Laura was so furious she pushed you down the stairs.”

GEORGE: “I’ll be damned, Laura killed me?”

ST. PETER: “That’s right, Mr. President. She’s now being treated for shock, and you’re here at the gates of Heaven. I’m St. Peter.”

GEORGE: “Well, Pete, open ‘er up. Guess there’s gonna be some good times here. I gotta tell ya, I was gettin’ mighty tired of Laura naggin’ all the time.”

ST. PETER: “We have a little business here, first, Mr. President, before anyone goes anywhere.”

GEORGE: “Y’all know I’m born agi’n. Don’t ‘spect no problem.

“Well, fire away, as I used to say there in the White House. Haw, haw. Jus’ a li’le joke there, Pete. Guess ya know I ain’t one to stand around jawin.’ Let’s get her done.”

ST. PETER: “Mr, President, we’re going to take a short look at some outstanding events of your life, ones that weigh heavily in the balance, so to speak.

St Peter opens his book, and a picture appears, cast like a slide in the white mist. It is of a child whose face is torn, horribly clotted with blood.

ST. PETER: “Do you recognize this child, Mr. President?

GEORGE: “Hell no – oops, sorry there! No, I never seen him, Pete, honest.”

ST. PETER: “That is correct, Mr. President, you never saw him, but nevertheless you did this to him, and many thousands of others in the bombing of Iraq.”

GEORGE: “I’m tellin’ ya, Pete, I di’n’t know. I’d never do somethin’ like that.”

Another picture appears, this one of a woman’s body smashed into the ground.

ST. PETER: “What about this one, Mr. President?”

GEORGE: “Promise I never saw nothin’ like that. God dang, who’d go ‘n’ do somethin’ like that?”

ST. PETER: “You would, Mr. President. This woman lived in Baghdad.”

GEORGE: “Well, I gotta say, I don’t think it’s fair bringin’ up this kinda ol’ stuff, Pete.”

ST. PETER: “What about this one?”

Another picture appears. It’s Laura with a black eye and a swollen lip.

GEORGE: “God darn if I wasn’t drunk that night. Didn’t mean it at all.”
SCENE THREE

George finds himself in a dark, gloomy place, with only hints of its being a room. He suddenly becomes aware of a series of sounds, a mixture of singing and shouting and George starts walking towards them. The sounds become louder. Soon we realize that they are people talking and shouting and singing, many of them, all at once. George tries covering his ears, the sound becomes so loud and unpleasant.

Finally, a figure appears in the gloom. It’s a tremendously fat Jerry Falwell looking for all the world like Jabba the Hutt waddling.
JERRY: “Well, now I kin hardly believe my eyes, welcome home, Mr. President!”

GEORGE: “Jeez, gotta say this place don’t look much like what I figured.”

JERRY: “Hell ain’t such a bad place. Ya pretty much get to do what ya always liked doin’ forever.”

GEORGE: “Hell? Whoa there, now, what’s goin’ on? I ain’t sposed to be in no Hell!

“I was jus’ talkin’ to Pete couple a minute ago, remindin’ him how I was saved an’ all.”

JERRY: “Well, I’m right sorry to disappoint you, Mr. President, ‘cause ya’ll was always a favorite.

“But we all knew you was on your way here, an’, like I was sayin’, it ain’t such a bad place an’ all.

“Ya’ll get to do pretty much what ya always did. Ya kin sure see I’m enjoyin’ the brunches, all laid out real nice, any time night or day, jus’ like a big cruise ship.

“An’ jus’ listen to that singin’ ! It don’t never stop. Gospel selections for the next trillion years!

“Some nice ol’ friends down here too, Mr. President. I reckon ya’ll know half of ‘em. Dick an’ Lynn. Your Pappy’s here, an’ your Grandpappy.”

GEORGE: “Ain’t ya sufferin’ with everlastin’ fires or nothin’ like that?”

JERRY: “Shucks, no, Mr. President. That jus’ ain’t the way it is.

“I know, I know, I was preachin’ kind of regular ‘bout that kinda stuff, but ya gotta figure, I was earnin’ a livin’ an’ all, an’ there jus’ ain’t no topic better ‘an damnation for gettin’ that there offerin’ plate full to overflowin’.”

GEORGE: “Well, I’ll be damned.”

JERRY: “Ya’ll are, Mr. President, that’s for sure.

“They got a copy of your ol’ office all set up for ya. Ya’ll gonna be able to go on bein’ President for millions an’ millions of years.

With a wink and a chuckle, “Snort a little coke now an’ then. All the damn mint juleps ya’ll can swaller. Go huntin’ with Dick.

“Give your Ol’ Man a good right now an’ then…as many times as ya’d like. An’ if that li’l’ woman of yours – jus’ sose ya know, she’ll be joinin’ up with ya before too long – goes mouthin’ off any, jus’ give her a smack in the gob the way ya’ll used to. Ain’t no cops here for her to call, embarrassin’ ya an’ all.

“Ya’ll be runnin’ that there war forever, seein’ every damned heathen an’ troublemaker blowed up jus’ like ya was there.”

GEORGE: “Well I gotta say that don’t sound none too bad. Ever get any vacation?”

JERRY: “Well, I gotta tell ya honest-like now, Mr. President, ya don’t get no vacation ‘roun’ here.

“Ya gonna do all them things ya always liked doin’, but ya gotta keep doin’ ‘em over and over, forever.”

“It might get a li’l’ tiresome-like after a while, but I sure ‘nough ain’t found that to be the case yet.”

GEORGE: “Ya, I kin see that right ‘nough. If ya’ll can’t stop packin’ down all the grub, ya gonna have a mighty sorry time draggin’ that fat gut of yours aroun’.

“Ya already startin’ to look like one them damned ol’ frogs I useta stuff with firecrackers. Damned, if I didn’t enjoy watchin’ ‘em gettin’ blowed up!

“Maybe ya’ll gonna blow up someday without any damned firecrackers in your mouth!”
George bends over, cracked up with uncontrollable laughter, tears running down his cheeks.

JERRY: Chuckling heartily, “Ah shucks, Mr. President, mighty nice to hear ya ain’t lost your ol’ boyish charm an’ sense of humor. Ya’ll gonna fit in jus’ fine here.”

George and Jerry, chuckling and laughing, walk slowly off into the gloom towards ear-splitting sounds of laughs and screams and screeching gospel music.

JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: TRYING TO IMAGINE HELL   Leave a comment

 

TRYING TO IMAGINE HELL

John Chuckman

 

Christians have always had it wrong. Hell is not a place loaded with terrifyingly dramatic scenes and flaming Hollywood special effects. That not only seems improbable, it actually is rather unimaginative.

Hell must be a place where all the people you would hate spending five minutes with become your intimate neighbors for eternity. It would be filled with people who never had an interesting thought, who never cared about the beauties of the universe, who only ever grasped for more, and people who spewed hate and ignorance their entire lives.

Of course, it contains figures like Hitler, and the Fuhrer’s closest associates sit gathered around to feel the mind-deadening, unremitting pain of hearing his views repeated in late evening monologues forever. Henry Kissinger will sit at Hitler’s feet, forced eternally to just listen, learning from the master as it were. One also finds the banalities and droning platitudes of George Bush. Imagine an eternal replay of his barely-literate mumbling, often stumbling over his own tongue while reciting his contributions to democracy and the goodness of America. Tony Blair will smirk, count his blood money, and display the smug stupidity of his smarmy smile forever. Madeleine Albright sits holding broken children’s bodies in her arms, an impious parody of Michelangelo’s Pieta.

But the halls of hell must also resonate with the sounds of lesser dark figures: the chirping vapidity of Sarah Palin pleading for campaign contributions over a bleeding moose carcass; the cowardly John McCain alternating between the black-faced rage of a world-class spoiled brat and his pose as the boyish hero who was shot down while bombing civilians in Hanoi; Bill Clinton’s syrupy Arkansas slop about integrity; Jonathon Edwards reciting his sugar-plum visions of America a million, million times; Newt Gingrich posed in a perpetual tableau telling his wife dying of cancer that he’s divorcing her for a hot babe; J.Edgar Hoover, cross-dressed as he was wont to do in his off-hours, shares an eternal loveseat embrace with his beloved Clyde Toland.

Folks who spent their entire lives grasping desperately for the substance of others fill the halls of hell with their moral emptiness, grasping still where there’s nothing left to grasp. There are puffed-up philanthropists sitting eternally on corporate thrones in castle-like headquarters, one pretending to humility in turtleneck sweaters, offering dollops of tax-free interest earnings from their foundation-intact fortunes to humble petitioners. Phony pitchmen of every description spend eternity repeating and refining their insincere friendliness. You hear the words “folks” and “my friends” echoing frequently. An eternity of unwanted telephone calls, unwanted mail offers, and e-mail spam awaits everyone in hell.

The phony pitchmen of American think-tanks will be generously represented, still posing as genuine academics while regurgitating their paid propaganda eternally, much resembling actors in white lab coats pretending to be scientists in television headache commercials. Indeed, when you think about it, Americans seem very likely to fill a disproportionate space in hell.

The Jerry Falwells, Pat Robertsons, Franklin Grahams, and Jimmy Swaggarts thump their Bibles, sputter, gush theatrical tears, drop to their knees, and beg for money endlessly – all done to a background accompaniment of Tammy Faye Baker warbling hymns in a voice resembling a cat in heat at midnight in the backyard. Imagine, ten quadrillion years of that, and then in the words of the wonderful old hymn, “with no less time…than when we first began.”

I suspect Hell actually looks a great deal like the world in which we live. It just excludes all the things that give us any hope and beauty and truth in life.

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: JABBA APOLOGIZES   1 comment

JABBA APOLOGIZES

John Chuckman

The Reverend Jerry Falwell has apologized again. It is his third-favorite occupation.

His first, as we all know, is using national television to promote the kind of intolerance and ignorance long associated with sweltery, fly-blown corners of America’s South. It’s a profitable business by the looks of Falwell’s cascading jowls and tailored, tent-size suits. He generally doesn’t apologize for these activities, whether it is his retailing of video-tapes sensationalizing the pitiful suicide of a member of President Clinton’s staff, or his spending countless hours blubbering from the pulpit against the lives of people who happen to be gay.

He once alerted the nation to dangerous hidden tendencies he discovered in a British television show for children, a harmless piece of fluff called Teletubbies. Falwell gravely warned America that one of the tubbies was promoting homosexuality.

Being a hate-entrepreneur or appealing to the worst instincts of nitwits is not an unusual occupation in America. There are many people who make handsome livings much the way Falwell does, and they are not isolated in the dark corners of American society. Some of them have considerable influence. Success in accumulating money and making a name for yourself, however achieved, counts far more than decency or intelligence in America. Just ask the man who now occupies the White House.

Falwell’s second-favorite occupation is making idiotic statements blaming others for disasters. In this he displays a common American trait, blaming others for what goes wrong. But Falwell takes the practice to a lunatic level, the best example being his statement, just days after 9/11, that America’s liberal and gay citizens were responsible for God’s allowing such destruction.

His third occupation is apologizing. Going way back to 1985, Falwell apologized to Jewish Americans for regularly using the expression “Christian America.” He said he wouldn’t use it in future, but nasty old habits are tough to break, and, in fact, he did use it again.

In 1999, he again apologized to Jews for what probably qualifies as his most bizarre and inexplicable utterance, “Antichrist was probably alive and that he was in the form of a male Jew.” His apology expressed regret for having said these disturbing words but did not disavow belief in them.

Odd that on a recent tour in the United States, Mr. Netanyahu – Israel’s answer to Richard Nixon with a generous dash of John Gotti tossed in – was photographed consulting with Mr. Falwell. There appears to be no shame to the alliances of intolerant politicos. But, as I said, money and celebrity count for immense influence in America, and it doesn’t much matter what you did to get them.

About a week after 9/11, Falwell apologized for his having said, days before, that the nation’s liberal and gay citizens were somehow responsible for very angry men from the other side of the planet high-jacking airliners and blowing up buildings in America. He made his original claim on the television program of another fundamentalist know-nothing, Pat Robertson, who readily responded with “I totally concur.” Perhaps Robertson used “concur” rather than “agree” to emphasize the high tone of this scholarly exchange.

Now, Falwell has apologized for remarks on still another television show. Perhaps anxious to demonstrate his leadership capacity for making tasteless, ignorant statements at a time of international crisis, Falwell originally said he had read enough to believe that the prophet Muhammad was “a terrorist,” “a violent man,” and “a man of war.”

One just has to wonder what it is that Falwell read. Perhaps it was one of the “comic strips” put out by some of his fellow American fundamentalists portraying Muslims as dark, evil characters opposing the nation’s Christian values and Manifest Destiny. Precisely such material does circulate today in America. It is difficult to imagine Falwell ever having read a serious book, or at least having done so with any reasonable understanding. After all, this is a man on guard against Tinky Winky the teletubby.

I don’t know whether anyone else has noticed recently, but Falwell is looking more and more like Jabba the Hutt, that gross outlaw slug from the Star Wars movies, although his voice and manner remind one rather of the late, professional cowboy-hick, Pat Butrum.

The growing resemblance strikes me as somehow oddly fitting, a kind of In the Heat of the Night-version of the Picture of Dorian Gray. Only here, the nasty figure himself grows more repulsive and bloated every week. But I feel sure that when the smarmy Falwell looks in a mirror, he knows just who to blame.

JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: WHAT SHARON WANTS   Leave a comment

WHAT SHARON WANTS

John Chuckman

What was the point of the Israeli army’s reducing Mr. Arafat’s compound to ruins, firing shells that came within the smallest margin of error of killing him? Everyone outside the hermetically-sealed thought-environment of Israel and Washington recognizes Mr. Arafat is no more responsible for the violence of Hamas or Hezballah than Mr. Bush is responsible for a disturbed gunman now terrorizing America’s capital city.

Of course, the question is rhetorical. The reason for the destruction is clear. Mr. Sharon has always exhibited personal animus against Mr. Arafat. He never mentions his name without the rhetorical equivalent of pronouncing a curse. The acts of Hamas or Hezbollah gave Mr. Sharon the excuse to humiliate and frighten him, hoping to destroy him as a political force and push him into exile. There cannot be the slightest doubt Sharon would prefer assassinating Arafat, as he has assassinated so many dozens of others opposing him, but even the unthinking Mr. Bush recognizes the immense strategic blunder of doing that.

With Arafat gone, Sharon could start the last thirty-five years over again. That mystical, nebulous mechanism called the “peace process” could start again – decades of stalling and quibbling, ignoring every United Nations’ resolution while Israel relentlessly inches eastward, absorbing the homes and farms of others – the search for peace through slow-motion ethnic cleansing.

Not that the creation of settlements has ever stopped while Mr. Sharon destroyed both the Oslo Accords, that landmark diplomatic achievement he always held in contempt, and much of the West Bank and Gaza. It would be just so much easier to continue with an opponent who does not have the ear of the world’s statesmen and who has not done everything politically possible to reach a reasonable settlement. It is so much easier to curse Arafat, broadcast his weaknesses, and ignore the fundamental claims he represents.

Mr. Arafat has not been one of the world’s shining statesmen. Nor has his administration in Palestine been marked by the most enlightened practices. But he is, unquestionably, dedicated to peace. He does, despite ups and downs, represent some of the most important interests of his people. And he has shown remarkable courage and tenacity, Sharon’s efforts to remove him having only showcased these qualities before the entire world.

A lot of people in the United States still do not understand that it has always been the policy of extreme parties like Mr. Sharon’s Likud to annex what they call Judaea and Samaria – that is, what is left of Palestine, home to a couple of million Arabic people. Even at the time of the original Camp David Accords, the late Mr. Begin kept muttering those names, Judaea and Samaria, into President Carter’s ear.

A reader recently wrote me about a television documentary on Palestine. He mentioned a settler, who like all the settlers are newcomers who have pushed out residents from places they have lived for centuries, being asked about the Palestinians. Her answer was they should all leave and go where they belong.

Go where they belong? According to this belligerent view, they belong on the other side of the Jordan River, or, indeed, anywhere but in their own homes and on their own farms in the West Bank. I can only wonder whether a person holding such views has ever given a moment’s thought to the reality of shoving two million people out of their homes and into small, poor countries that are not remotely-equipped to deal with massive migration?

The largest internal migration in American history, and perhaps the largest in world history not associated with war, was the great black migration of tenant farmers from the rural South to industrial jobs in the North during the mid-twentieth century. It involved about 6 1/2 million people over several decades. This vast movement of people generated tremendous social difficulties that remain unsettled in the world’s richest country, a land that is many, many times the size of any of Israel’s Arab neighbors.

So how could anyone reasonably expect such a solution in the Middle East? The answer is that reason has nothing to do with it. Israelis with these views simply want the Arabs gone. If you don’t hear echoes of Milosevic, you aren’t listening.

Until Mr. Bush, this idea, its potential for “bad press” clearly recognized, had been little advertised or promoted in North America. Now, it has received some publicity, perhaps offered as “trial balloons.”

Mr. Rumsfeld – in one of his most regrettably-Hitlerian expressions since insisting that Taliban prisoners, after their surrender at Kunduz, should be shot or walled away for good – recently spoke of the spoils belonging to the victor in the Middle East.

That redoubtable American ally, General Dostum, of course, took Rumsfeld at his word about the prisoners. Hundreds of them, after being hideously suffocated, lie in mass graves. One can’t help asking whether American generals are now to apply Mr. Rumsfeld’s spoils-principle to Iraqi oil fields?

Another Republican moral giant, Mr. Dick Armey – not known for charity towards the less-fortunate of any society, even his own – recently chimed in that pushing two-million or so people out of the West Bank would be acceptable to him. Hell, what’s a couple of million Arab lives, right?

And now, the Rev. Jerry Falwell – fundamentalist politico and hate-entrepreneur, a man whose tailored suits are bought with the proceeds of a relentless hate-campaign against a former President, a former First Lady, and all gay people – has added his scholarly opinion that the prophet Muhammad himself was a terrorist. One can almost hear the unspoken link, so why would his followers deserve to live in the Holy Land?

These public statements provide an excellent measure of the moral tone set by Mr. Bush’s administration. America’s long, on-and-off romance with fascism has been stoked back to a warm glow (for background, see my earlier article, “Flirting with Fascism”). Each of these statements should have been loudly condemned by a President with any conscience. Instead, hate-speech is tolerated.

Well, Mr. Sharon now also is building a wall, a truly massive undertaking. Authoritarian personalities and movements seem always to like walls. This one will be a grand re-creation of the Berlin Wall, complete with a strip of no-man’s land, good portions of it at the expense of Palestinian farmers.

This may be what Sharon had in mind when he made statements months ago, contradicting every act and breath of his adult life, that he supported a Palestinian state. One can only imagine what he had in mind with those words, something surely bordering on the nightmares of the gulag. The wall is likely part of his vision. A rump-state, walled off from all natural connections with its neighbor, with every movement in or out controlled, is certain to fail. It would be a state in a bottle. The idea represents a freshening-up of the late Gen. Dayan’s thinking when he said, years ago, that the Palestinians would be made so miserable they would choose to leave.