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"Oh, Bobby, my sweet American cherub," I say to Bobby, the imaginary straw child I've invented to help prove an indefensible point. "I remember the good old days. The days when Elmo, a three-year-old red Muppet, would cry out 'tickle me!' and, Bobby, tickle him we did. But," I say, the light of apocalyptic flames from my barbecue grill illuminating my face, "the laughter has stopped. And in its place: a roar."
That's a true story that I've just made up to help you understand the perilous situation we're in today in America where, like Anakin Skywalker, an impressionable young Muppet has grown up to be the ruthless and savage leader of a force determined to bend humanity to his cruel will. I wasn't aware that times were so bleak; I've just been sitting here in a public park enjoying the cool shade of a Confederate monument and warily eyeing the red-lined neighborhood across the four-lane highway, but apparently we are in a crisis. So says the host of Fox News's Tucker Carlson Tonight, who, like Elmo, is a monster who has much to learn about the world. On Tuesday night's broadcast of his eponymous show, the host's discovery was that Elmo, Sesame Street's inquisitive child Muppet, has been compromised. Repeat: Elmo has fallen. ELMO HAS FALLEN.
Yes, it's true, Elmo is an antifa vampire who will come to your house, steal your Kindle, and download a full-priced copy of White Fragility. Or at least that's what the host seemed to be saying in a rambling monologue that he addressed to Bobby, my fictional child who is not allowed to watch TV that late. The thing that got Carlson riled up was Sunday's televised special CNN & Sesame Street: "Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism—A Town Hall for Kids & Families", a program with a name almost as long and with as many different parts as America's history of oppression. See how they indoctrinate you with punctuation! Vigilance, Bobby!
Carlson showed a clip from the program in which Elmo's father Louie (probably an anarchist and, judging from his attire, also a Jimmy Buffet fan) gave his take on the Black Lives Matters protests that are on-going in every state in the nation and around the world. “Across the country, people of color, especially in the Black community, are being treated unfairly because of how they look, their culture, race and who they are.” Louie displayed a handmade protest sign that was definitely not constructed from an Amazon box and continued. “What we are seeing is people saying, ‘Enough is enough.’ They want to end racism.” This, for the host, for Bobby, and for me, was a bridge too far. Racism is America's signature scent. Not so fast, Louie!
Carlson—authentically incensed and artificially bronzed—could take this abuse no more! “Got that, Bobby?” he actually said, speaking, apparently, to my child who had already cried himself to sleep because of cancel culture. “America is a very bad place, and it’s your fault. So no matter what happens, no matter what they do to you when you grow up, you have no right to complain."
It may seem, to the casual viewer, peculiar, deranged even, that a rich angry man could be sent careening over the edge by a statement as plain and straightforward as "some people are not fans of the concept of racism and would like for you not to do the racism to them." But open your eyes! Don't be red-pilled (or red-Muppeted)! (Or is it do be red-Muppeted? I always forget which pill I'm supposed to take and which I'm supposed to leave behind. I need one of those little pill organizers from CVS with writing on the top that reads "this one makes you hate racism" and "this one is America!") In either case, don't listen to Louie, who speaks in the dulcet tones of a kind character in an Oscar-winning movie about "difference" with a lesson about justice that you will assiduously avoid internalizing. Listen instead the ever-more frenzied rantings of a man who claims he is being silenced while being broadcast into every home in America with a cable connection. A man threatened by a puppet that is not even wearing pants and a cardboard sign that spreads dangerous propaganda with the words "Love, Justice, Peace." Listen, Bobby, to a man who will believe every conspiracy theory except the conspiracy of white supremacy because it's not a conspiracy if you like it and, like another signature scent, White Diamonds, it has always brought you luck.
What's that, Bobby? You've woken from your restless sleep and padded down our staircase carpeted with generational wealth to ask me a question. What are you saying, Bobby? That it's odd that people who claim to be so obsessed with law and order, who are deeply committed to justice organizations like the NextDoor app's message board, see correcting a grievous and centuries-long campaign of injustice as a personal threat to them? Bobby, I don't want to silence you but also please be silent. Don't say it, Bobby! Don't say that the cynical nihilism of television hosts and politicians who oppose dismantling systemic oppression because they are the system itself and without it they'd have to confront their deepest fear, that they themselves are nothing. Oh, Bobby, why are you opening up your wallet? No, don't show me that! Put it away! I refuse to look at your antifa membership card! Oh, wait, does it say if you show it you get two-for-one pints of Ben and Jerry's? No! I cannot be beguiled. I will not travel this rocky road with you, my sweet imaginary child. I always knew this day would come. Bobby has fallen. Repeat: Bobby has fallen.
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