Fixing Their Wagon

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by Eric Peters

Recently by Eric Peters: The Mantra      

People are frustrated — and want to know what they can do.

It gets old merely talking. They — our oppressors — don’t care how much we talk. Perhaps then it is time for us to act. But we must not act precipitously, much less suicidally. A Wagnerian last stand is exactly that. Leaving a smoldering ruin to the accompaniment of Siegfried’s funeral march doesn’t accomplish very much.

So what, then?

Mockery, for openers. Laugh at the state. Better yet, cry.

Probably, you have seen footage from North Korea in the aftermath of the death of the last Dear Leader. The hair-pulling and screaming at the tragedy of it all. Imagine such a demonstration of devotion at the funeral of a costumed enforcer. That is, a cop’s funeral. Crowds of people rending their clothes, falling to the ground, writhing in emotional agony at the though of a “hero” who has died “in the line of duty.” This ought to work equally well at the wakes of our Dear Leaders — politicians and so on. I regret deeply that this idea didn’t occur to me in time for the funeral of Ronald Reagan — whose administration nurtured the “troop” (and flag) worship which, more than any other single thing, characterizes the modern USSA.

And what could they do about our demonstrations of devotion? Poor, grieving people! It would be unseemly to Tazer them.

There is also effusive thanking.

Thank you so much for your service! No, really. I mean it. Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. You have no idea how much it means. May I shake your hand? Oh, thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. (This is particularly effective when performed on one’s knees, hands clasped together in supplication.) Tie dozens of yellow ribbons around every tree — and bush — in your yard. When the zoning Nazis hassle you, tell them (cue tears) you are “supporting the troops.” Call the media. Etc.

Or, try the belly laugh.

When you find yourself at some event at which the flag will be worshiped and speeches given about “our freedoms,” begin with a snigger. Work your way up to a derisive snort, then open — and hearty — laughter. Bust a gut. Slap your knees. Double over and fall to the ground, clutching your gut. It won’t require you to act much, either. Just to hear some fool prattle on about how “free” America is ought to be more than sufficient to trigger the necessary reflex.

Obey the law — every law — to the letter. Drive exactly the speed limit — and if someone bothers you about creating a rolling roadblock, tell them you are “just being safe” — and “following the law.” When you see a cop not wearing a seat belt, report it. Tell the operator you are concerned about “officer safety.” Attend town meetings and voice concern about overweight cops — that you are worried about their health and potential costs to society. Suggest calisthenics. Mandatory calisthenics.

Or, flout the law — whenever you can possibly get away with it. Ignore idiotic (or rather, made for idiots) rules such as “no right on red.” Don’t buckle up for safety. Or wear a helmet when you ride — and shorts and flip flops.

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Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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