It Was Mother

It Was A

It Was A
Wayras Olivier
NOVEMBER 2020


ALONG TIME AGO, I saw a program on TV about a devotional fromager. Captured were the details and nuance of how a lovely but secluded soft-spoken guy made Parmigiano-Reggiano in the remote backwoods of Italy. His craft had fitted him for stoicism and detachment. A block of his own making, he removed by the end of the show. When he drew a sibilant mouth-whiff, nudging a thin pale sheet atop his tongue, it woke up nice and smelly. Short of breath—and pinching his nasal bone whilst his underlip went into seizure—he wept excitedly.

Here, then, the touching subject of good old-fashioned aging and how to properly pair it with lifestyle was being drilled. Against the agreeable backdrop of the Italian frontier, the show was a caricature about worker engagement, intimating its effect on GDP. It was enjoyable, of course, romanticized. One could not imagine that same level of puffery applied to a piece on (say) refined petroleum or defined cars: easily above and beyond any list of enriched exports, Italy’s most slick.

After the program ended, two options on other channels. First, a Nightline-type piece on Venezuela’s president, who, ousted temporarily by his opposition just a year earlier, was again being bullied. This time the PDVSA’s oversight of the country’s oil reserves (the richest in the world), whose workers were on strike, protesting the reelection of a low tide influencing, high tide promising president: a moonstruck Marxist whose media name was Hugo Chavez.

Second, two minors, en route to their suicide, killed a dozen High School students in Columbine, Colorado, in 1999. Bowled over, Michael Moore, blaming the tragedy largely on his country’s second amendment, made a documentary and for his efforts received an Oscar in 2003. He was in a mood. Barking from the podium, he excoriated George W. Bush’s saleable yet sticky pretext for the Iraq War, 9/11 and WMDs. The audience, not yet woke, mostly jeered at Moore. Later:

Argued with a heart-warming fixation on Bush that the president had cooked up a cash-generating scheme (a dish which today would carry the lowly title of conspiracy theory), Moore claimed that Bush’s domestic and foreign cronies could not construct a new pipeline through the Middle East if Saddam Hussein remained in power, and sought to prove this theory as the reason Bush gave up his thumb to the war.

You, too, may recall the self-hating intellectual Matt Damon played in Good Will Hunting, enshrining self-importantly Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of The United States (the very book that a very naïve A.J. falls for in The Sopranos). How subtle are Zinn’s contours, noticeably used by Moore in his unsubtle cartoon history of America, in Bowling for Columbine: Congenitally craven pilgrims—escalating violence whilst mastering America—stuck to their guns?

America’s first amendment is hard, like a Praetorian guard, to get a read on, if you just see its protection as stationery. Notice—in action, both common and contentious speech is protected—the Framers’ acuity. Moore’s afforded protection meant Fahrenheit 9/11 could attack Bush (still president at the time of the film’s release), as a hollow fraudster: the short, headsoft son of a hardening crime family, going along.

Years later the senator from Chicago whose decorum and probity were impugned, not by Moore, but by Citizens United, in Hillary: The Movie. The highly regarded hoyden was now being disregarded for her single-minded double-dealings. Imagine a certain political party’s outrage. Taken to the Supreme Court, Citizens United defended their right to reconnoiter Senator Clinton’s weaknesses, and won. Irony?

The whole hustle of really, really going after an opponent’s weaknesses is the brainchild of Saul Alinsky, godfather. Which Hillary did, after all, adopt. Her thesis at Wellesley was about the oily faultfinder who concocted today’s version of community organizing, and she became but one of his legatees. (In his Rules for Radicals, of all the radicals who’ve ever existed, he rather tellingly refers to Lucifer as the first.)

Cherished for several reasons, not least of all his prescribed tactics on how to fight one’s opponents, Alinsky’s less sapient ideas are sanctimonious—because community organizing is good; for organizing it, you’re good; anyone opposing your good is an irredeemable enemy—and thus should be judged as such. If necessary, fabricating an enemy, a tactic Alinsky himself goaded, can help focus a community’s disorganized, perhaps even slightly maundering, aspirations or grievances.

Above, is (a), an unintended contradiction, or, at the very least (b), a profane inference: (a) analogizing radicals with Lucifer consequently means that people who oppose radicals are in effect good; or (b) the cosmos itself, unaware of being created by such a willfully coercive god, justifies a mutinous Lucifer: his unlit presence secured as a serviceable good.

In any case, nationalism, a term generally wrung a few ways: one, ethno-nationalism, that which the bigoted brute Dr. Guido Landra hyped in his Manifesto of Race, a fascistic writ which stripped non-ethnic Italians of their citizenship in the 1930s; and, two, economic-nationalism, that which vehicle producing General Motors did not support, opening a plant in Mexico which killed thirty thousand American jobs in the late 1980s. In Roger & Me, Moore indeed went on the attack.

The film merits a second look. Moore is neither overly pious nor paranoid in his activism against the real-world enemy of a community ruined by its jobs going abroad, and with it, the ungodly willing destruction of the American worker’s dignity.

Not a word said by the weepy fromager, conceivably because his job, he knew, was going absolutely nowhere.

W.