True tomfoolery trumps April Fool’s Day

    April Fool’s Day just ain’t what it used to be. Why bother conjuring fake tomfoolery when our political players so often insist on serving up the real thing?

    For instance: When GOP chairman Reince Priebus recently declared, in the spirit of party outreach, that all Americans, even the non-white and non-heterosexual ones, should be treated with “dignity and respect” – because “nobody deserves to have their dignity diminished, people don’t deserve to be disrespected” – it was a cinch to think up April Fool’s riffs about Republicans who hadn’t gotten the memo. But why bother with jokes when reality writes itself? Why opt for parody when they insist on parodying themselves?

    The dictionary says that the term wetback is “disparaging and offensive” to Hispanics. It would’ve been cruel to Republicans to dream up an April Fool’s joke in which a Republican congressman invoked the term at a time when Republicans were trying to woo Hispanics. But no problem, folks. Don Young, Alaska’s sole congressman, has done the honors for real in a radio interview:

    “My father had a ranch. We used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes.”

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    Young has been on Capitol Hill since 1973, which presumably is long enough to have learned that the term is a slur, but maybe, like many members of the white oldsters party, he’s more attuned to the dignity and respect nomenclature of 1953. In his ritual apology, he subsequently said, “There was no malice in my heart or intent to offend….I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays,” which still begs the question of why he used it.

    Similarly, one could have done an April Fool’s riff about Rick Santorum resurrecting his man-on-dog slur against gays, thus sabotaging Priebus’ plea that all people be treated with dignity and respect. But why invoke Santorum, even in jest, when we already have Ben Carson for real?

    The black neurosurgeon’s reign as the GOP’s new shiny object ended abruptly last week when he went on Fox News and equated gay people with (a) people who have sex with children, and (b) people who have sex with animals:

    “Marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s a well-established pillar of society. And no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA” — the North American Man/Boy Love Association — “be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition.”

    In his subsequent ritual apology, he said that he “never had any intention of offending anyone….If anyone was offended, I apologize to you….But the fact of the matter is, the Bible and God have set very specific standards.” This guy should stop before he talks again. Or at least stick with what he actually knows, which is surgery. Or, at the very least, he should share with us the “very specific standards” that God apparently emailed to him.

    And it would’ve been cruel to Republicans to craft an April Fool’s joke about a Priebus committeemen posting a Facebook attack on gays’ “filthy lifestyle.” But no worries there, because Michigan national committeeman Dave Agema did it for real. The other day he posted some wingnut article chock full of fascinating stats (“39-59 percent of homosexuals are infected with intestinal parasites like worms, flukes and amoebae, which is common in filthy third-world countries”) and portentous pronunciamentos (“Part of the homosexual agenda is to get the public to affirm their filthy lifestyle and turn people from Christianity”).

    Agema defends the article (the stats therein are attributed to a Georgia chiropractor with longstanding links to right-wing extremists), refuses to heed demands that he quit as GOP national committeeman, and says the article is a valuable contribution to the gay-marriage debate: “Now’s the time to discuss it, that’s why I brought it up. Say, ‘oh, you’re dividing the (Republican) party,’ no, I don’t think so. We’re standing on the principle of the party. If the party doesn’t stand on its principle, we’ll lose our base.”

    Nope, Agema won’t apologize for insisting that the GOP “stand on its principle” and declare that gays are filthy. But if the Republican committeeman decides to change his mind, this Young-Carson-Agema mashup apology is already in the can and ready to go: “If filthy gay wetbacks are offended about being compared to pedophiles and wormy parasitic tomato-pickers who hate Christianity and have sex with animals, then fine, we did not intend to offend those who ignore God’s standards.”

    April Fool.

    But seriously, chairman Priebus: How’s that Republican outreach campaign working out?


    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1

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