Sunday, August 25, 2019

A lost chicken and Donald’s mob

As they say in the business—it was a “softball,” teed up and ready so that even I, a normal opposite field singles hitter in my 30 years of Crested Butte softball, could hit this one over the Gothic Field fence. The gods had sent me a gift of being able to write about one more thing that makes this place so unique and so special. And then…

Listening to KBUT as the sun was going down on my way home from town last week, I heard the DJ let the world know that there was “an apparent lost chicken walking down the road near Gothic.”

What?! Slogar escapee? Free range rebel?

In the serious tones of a concerned newscaster, he described the wandering fowl: “A chicken with black speckled feathers and black tail feathers was seen walking down Gothic Road about a half mile past the pavement on the gravel. If this is your chicken, go get him…”

I couldn’t stop laughing. I called Chris Coady, who hosts the show “Song in the Walls,” and he confirmed I hadn’t misheard. “I thought someone was pulling my leg but he was serious and really concerned,” he told me. “So I had to get the information out.” And he did.

How can you not love this place? How can you not appreciate a place where you will immediately hear if there is a lost chicken wandering Gothic Road? I was going to get into quality of people and place and quirkiness … And then … Donald and his acolytes showed up.

I think I’ve come to understand Donald a bit more with his two years as president. Little is based in principled policy and everything is based in ego and winning. He is a master at energizing his followers. He can work a crowd like a pro and lives for adulation and ratings. He is a genius at marketing to a certain demographic that feels they have been getting screwed—and many times they have been.

So on the same day I’m embracing the lost chicken love, there was Donald going over the line again and leading his people into a fevered chant of “Send Her Back!” hate. It wasn’t just part two in the “Lock Her Up!” series—this had the feel of dark, tribal violence brewing. And so while it is easy for those who loathe the effective theatrics of Donald to close their eyes and wait for 2020 when they hope Donald gets elected out of the office—there are times to say something. For me, this is one of those times. So, ummm—let’s see the acceptable family-friendly newspaper vernacular—Copulate that feces.

I get that Donald has embraced the art of dividing. He’s really good at it and it worked—and can work again. There’s a really great chance he’ll win in 2020. He hit the vein of gold when the Democrats hoping to run against him kept trying to get further left than the candidate next to them on the debate stage. The big nugget for Donald was a group of congresswomen with brown skin and a silly middle school moniker, “The Squad,” that he could paint as super extreme. Of course he just made up the worst of what he says they said. Spoiler alert: Donald has no qualms about lying a lot and voters have accepted that. And frankly the real positions of The Squad are too extreme for many like myself who lean left but don’t want to throw out the entire American capitalist baby with the bathwater.

But what got me was the blind frenzy. The mob.

A few years ago I read a biography of Leni Riefenstahl, a talented filmmaker who directed some of the most influential films associated with, yup, the Nazi party in Germany in the 1930s. She was a genius filmmaker and her documentary Triumph of the Will about Hitler and the Nuremberg rallies is considered “a masterpiece of cinematic propaganda.” It showcased the ability of a man who could mesmerize a crowd who deified him and could whip them into a frenzy.

Donald has a similar talent and despite my liberal friends not wanting to admit that the man has any ability, it is a real talent. I think Donald might have been taken slightly aback at the mob—not at the time he was speaking but after hearing from his advisors the next day. When trying to avert his responsibility as usual, he said, “I can tell you this: You can’t talk that way about our country. Not when I’m the president.”

Argghhh.

Yes, you can talk that way. That’s the difference between here and say—Russia. You and me and everyone in this country can talk that way. You aren’t the ultimate daddy of us. Just like you could talk that way about Barrack Obama and your birtherism conspiracy theory and your talk to execute innocent minority teenagers wrongly accused of rape in Central Park and your talk that a U.S. judge couldn’t be fair because of his Mexican heritage and, and, and. You can talk that way. It’s sometimes stupid and crazy but that’s the basic right of people who live in this country.

And as president it should be up to you more than anyone to make sure that people can talk whatever way they want, even though you are the one who goes over the boundaries as much as just about anyone. The president, any president, who swears to uphold the Constitution, should feel confident to argue any point with his political foes but also stand up for basic American rights like freedom of speech without people fearing the mob mentality.

Donald just can’t seem to do that and that’s a dangerous fail.

Worse than Donald or the “incredible patriots” caught up in the mob at that North Carolina rally are sycophants like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham who want to claim a mantle of national leadership and reasonableness but are happy to lick Donald’s boots as long as he signs tax cuts and appoints conservative judges.

All I wanted to write about this week was a lost chicken and how it made this a pretty special place and then—Donald’s minions turned all Nuremberg and the Republican “leaders” stuck their tongues on his increasingly muddy boots and I had to taint this editorial by saying something—because while we are isolated in a pretty safe little bubble in these high mountains, if we don’t stay aware of that danger zone then we can suddenly end up like a lost chicken on the gravel road—dazed, confused, possibly run over before we know what happened and ultimately cooked.

Whew. That’s a rant. But I had expected a softball this week and instead got a high hard fastball to the heart. Sometimes it is just time to say something.

—Mark Reaman

PS: I don’t know if that wandering chicken found its owner or was taken in by a group of marmots and is now part of some RMBL study.

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