H.L. spent Memorial Day weekend with living family and long deceased parents. Dad a waist gunner and bombardier in two of Rosie the Riveter’s B-24 Liberator Bombers. Mom a canteen girl who helped establish a USO in Clovis, New Mexico but met Dad on West 44th Street in ’44 at the Stage Door Canteen, while he furloughed to say goodbye to his mother.
One weekend activity was a group viewing and discussion of the reality/survivalist TV show Naked and Afraid. My kids gave the show a “C” for the genre but I experienced it as a good 2018 version of Father Knows Best and Amos and Andy.
Those 1950s TV shows, while presenting stereotyped versions of us, never failed to connect their experience with ours. Always delivering a “yeah that’s how I feel about that.” And yes I saw myself in George Kingfish Stevens’ family as much, if not more than, the patriarchy headed by Jim Anderson. And yeah, I often feel naked and afraid these Trump days – and like Allen Ginsberg need to Howl.
The weekend news was full of noise about the chimerical Korean summit, tariffs, trade wars and sanctions, nuclear Iran and undocumented alien kids separated from parents at the border under Jeff Session’s October 2017 “zero tolerance policy.” He explained “[I]f you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally.” Except many were lawfully seeking asylum at the boundary, as was my orphaned mom in 1920.
In each of these the stakes are much greater than whether genitalia are sufficiently hidden from Naked and Afraid’s viewers. That show’s participants volunteer. But we are conscripts in the Trump reality – our lives and fortunes in the balance.
The tariffs, sanctions and trade wars toss industries, jobs and farms around like chips in a no limit, no rules game of craps. (Dad won $50k in an officers’ game in Paris after the liberation, was escorted back to barracks by MPs and lost it all the next night). With Iran and Korea, millions of people threatened by nukes are now also teased and taunted on Twitter. And the undocumented kids? Mom bore the scars of her brutal and parentless 1920 arrival until the day of her death.
The weekend included an email exchange with esteemed law firm colleague Harry Litman, who was attacked by something called MRC NewsBusters (“Exposing and combating liberal media bias”) for appearing on MSNBC and analogizing Trump’s assault on the Justice Department to the blitz experienced by Londoners in 1940. MRC is partially funded by ExxonMobil to combat “liberally biased” news coverage of climate change. It took Harry’s apt analogy and said he was suggesting that Trump was like Herr Hitler, who had blitzed London. Well.
H.L.’s family discussed all this and the consensus was that there’s never been a great or good war but the one currently being fought against Trump is worth fighting – bare assed or totally naked, if necessary.