By Gallagher and Schleicher
As you may have heard, we have been banned from the editorial pages of the Waco Tribune-Herald. Okay, so the ban is entirely self-imposed and temporary. In other words, just the sort of non-censorship that President Trump would irrationally gripe about if it involved him. We’re not here to do that, but we did wish to note our initial dismay at Sunday’s column by fellow Trib Board of Contributor member Gordon Robinson. (For U.S. readers, here’s a link to his column.)
To put it mildly, we were perplexed by his reaction to the national outpouring of protests in response to the death of George Floyd. It initially struck us as exactly the sort of tone deaf, one-sided, overheated rhetoric the nation needs right now like a poke in the eye.
For example, Mr. Robinson wrote that the “so-called ‘peaceful protestors’” were in fact “anarchistic, arsonist rioters and looters.” Those of us who sympathize with the protests were labeled “just part of the problem” and likely to be “Antifa” [i.e., members of the perceived Anti-Fascist movement].
With we two Davids separately having attended related protests in Waco and London—both completely absent of rioting and looting—we diagnosed a severe case of Fox News Poisoning Syndrome. Coming from someone who earlier seemed at least somewhat aware of Trump’s shortcomings, the column came across as a bit out of character. For it fully fell prey to the President’s “lump them all together, send in the troops, and let God sort them out” sort of approach to the current American anguish.
Mr. Robinson (as is true with his entire family) more typically is well known around Waco for his generosity to others. He also once was part of helping the Waco Trib gain the benefit of local ownership. Some had taken that to be a hint he understood the value of a spectrum of views. But then we read this Sunday’s column. Wow.
Make no mistake about it, we do oppose looting and rioting—whether it is by “thugs” on the street of a Macy’s on W. 34th in Manhattan or any “thugs” at the not-too-distant-from-there Wall Street (i.e., of the sort leading to the 2008 financial meltdown). But a people riven by grief, frustration and fear need messages of understanding, reassurance and unity. Not mangled metaphors and what one fairly might consider “Profa” sentiments.
Surely the hundreds of thousands of protestors around the country of all colors, genders, and faiths, from across the political spectrum, and at times even including law enforcement officers themselves, are not all anarchists bent on destruction of American society. Are we to believe Mitt Romney and Archbishop Wilton Gregory are riotous revolutionaries?
Then—just when we were at our most perplexed—it hit us. It’s satire. Boy did we suddenly feel stupid for not seeing it sooner. At last, the joke’s on us.
Mr. Robinson’s column is in fact a brilliant takedown of overreaching power and authoritarian justifications for brutality and constitutional desecration. As students of satire ourselves, we humbly set down our pens. Or keyboards. We urge you to re-read his piece, this time with the sort of nasal, sniffling tone the President would use and you will get the full impact of it all.
When historians write of the death of the Republican Party, this is just the sort of piece that students will study, much as our high school teachers subjected us to “A Modest Proposal.”
When the youth of America turn out to vote in record numbers, and African-Americans resist having their votes again suppressed, sending Trump to his well-earned political grave, we’ll look back and know it was all predicted. Cleverly prophesied at that, by one of Waco’s own.
These seem the last days of the Republican Party, as it finally has revealed its true colors—or lack thereof. There remains no doubt the party of Trump has outlived the nobility of its Lincoln days and the tent-expanding efforts of its Bush years. As George Will, many retired generals, and protestors around the world have warned us, Trump’s a fundamental threat to American democracy.
As the Sunday column from Gordon Robinson pointedly reminds us, many times it takes clever satire to make a point that otherwise won’t get heard. Bravo!
David Gallagher is a transplanted Texan, living and working in London and tweeting at @TBoneGallagher. David Schleicher is an attorney who has represented federal law enforcement officers around the country for over 20 years. You can find their earlier and future columns at www.ContranymTimes.com. To receive their free columns via email sign up here or email them: ContranymTimes@gmail.com. Visit/Like on Facebook via this link.