Thursday, August 27, 2009

From the Exquisite Corpse

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photo by David Gallent
To the Oscars, the Grammys and the Emmies, you can now add a wonderful new distinction, The Dobbies. Awarded by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Dobbies, named after Lou Dobbs, the CNN commentator, honor the year’s greatest acts of bigotry, chauvinism, and plain stupidity. My candidate for the Dobbies this year is the Birther Movement, which claims that President Obama’s Hawaian birth-certificate is not kosher and therefore he may not have been born on American soil. Was he even born in American air space? Was he even born in American outer space? Good questions, all raised by this supposedly dubious piece of legal paper.

What makes this movement Dobbie-worthy is that there is no other evidence of the President’s non-Americanness: he has no accent--unlike this commentator who wouldn’t be President if you waterboarded him--he has shown nothing but ardent love for this country, he has actually dared to consider the welfare of Americans a foremost priority, and he has even gone beyond rhetoric to get to know actual Americans--all suspicious activities by their very Americanness. If that piece of paper turns out to be irregular, all that presidential effort plus the votes of a majority of Americans may turn out to be only a cover. Under that American facade may lie a foreigner.

What is a foreigner? This is a question I can answer with some authority. A foreigner is someone like Henry Kissinger, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and myself, people with accents who are distinguished by an unnaturally fervent dedication to this country. Unlike some of the people born on American soil, who take American democracy for granted and can make a big deal of trouble for people whose papers are not in order, foreigners have to think about the place where they are living because it isn’t like the place they came from. Of course, the same thing pertains to a person from Chicago who finds him or herself in New York: the native-born Chicagoan will find New York strange enough to learn it from  scratch because people in New York say funny things, walk differently, produce inferior pizza, and have this funny law that you can’t be mayor of New York if you weren’t born in one of the borroughs.  Oh they don’t? Sorry. I guess the Birther Movement isn’t as mighty as I thought.

A foreigner is also someone who speaks more than one language, which can cause someone to be sympathetic to an alien expression, a gateway to UFOs and alien invasions. Polyglots are a threat to the American dream, which should be dreamt in English by a person with a valid birth certificate. It is this proud ignorance that makes the Birther Movement the only likely candidate for a Dobbie.

Listen to Andrei on NPR:

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