Left Behind, pp. 54-57
Here the story switches back to Buck Williams, who is proud to have been "the first passenger from his flight to reach the terminal at O'Hare."
The others apparently didn't realize it was a race. They were slowed by the steeplechase of human misery along the way, not realizing that the needy and the suffering were obstacles to be avoided instead of opportunities to help, they couldn't keep up with Buck. Suckers.
The Greatest Investigative Reporter of All Time knew better than to allow himself to get bogged down in the spontaneous outpouring of solidarity and mutual aid that often follows the shared experience of mass tragedy. He races back to the terminal and straight to "the exclusive Pan-Con Club," where he can check his e-mail without distraction from the moans of the hoi polloi.
What Buck finds is two messages from his boss at Global Weekly, Steve ("dumb as a") Plank — the World's Worst Editor.
Buck first reads the message Plank sent to "all field personnel." This first message actually contains a bit of common sense. Plank tells his reporters not to try to get to the office in New York, but to report from wherever they are — "on-the-scene stuff, as much as you can transmit."
Aside from the odd choice of verb ("transmit?"), this seems like a good move. The mass disappearances are a global event without an apparent epicenter. The story is everywhere and reporters can cover it from wherever they may be.
Plank also tells his staff to:
Begin thinking about the causes. Military? Cosmic? Scientific? Spiritual? But so far we're dealing mainly with what happened.
It's not until we read the next message, addressed specifically to Buck, that readers begin to realize that Plank is actually insane and a raving anti-Semite conspiracy theorist. It starts off reasonably enough:
Buck, ignore general staff memo. Get to New York as soon as you can at any expense. … You're going to head up this effort to get at what's behind the phenomenon. … Whether we'll come to any conclusions, I don't know, but at the very least we'll catalog the reasonable possibilities. …
But then Plank takes a sharp turn through the looking glass:
I do have an ulterior motive. Sometimes I think because of the position I'm in, I'm the only one who knows these things; but …
The remainder of the e-mail — three pages long — has nothing to do with the disappearance of more than a billion people, including every child and infant on the planet.
Instead, Plank speculates about what he sees as the really important stories — stories about Jews, international bankers, the U.N. and international Jewish bankers at the U.N. Plank suspects that those Jewy Jews are up to something. He's not sure what it is, but his nose for news tells him that it's a bigger story than the anguish of every parent on earth. After all, these are Jews we're talking about, and if something Jewish is afoot, then he needs his best reporter on the job:
… Political editor wants to cover a Jewish Nationalist conference in Manhattan that has something to do with a new world order government. What they care about that, I don't know and the political editor doesn't either. Religion editor has something in my in box about a conference of Orthodox Jews also coming for a meeting. These are not just from Israel but apparently all over …
Plank apparently believes that New York is a city of 10 million gentiles. I can't begin to describe how incoherent and bizarre the rest of this e-mail is:
… and they are no longer haggling over the Dead Sea Scrolls. They're still giddy over the destruction of Russia and her allies — which I know you still think was supernatural, but hey, I love you anyway. Religion editor thinks they're looking for help in rebuilding the temple. That may be no big deal or have anything to do with anything other than the religion department …
Because, you know, the destruction of one of Islam's holiest sites couldn't possibly have any political ramifications …
… but I was struck by the timing — with the other Jewish group meeting at pretty much the same time and at the same place about something entirely political. The other religious conference in town is among leaders of all the major religions, from the standard ones to the New Agers, also talking about a one-world religious order. They ought to get together with the Jewish Nationalists, huh? Need your brain on this. Don't know what to make of it, if anything.
There's no indication from Plank, or from LaHaye and Jenkins, that the chaos and mass disappearances might have altered the schedules of any of these upcoming conferences. Global gridlock and the closing of all airports couldn't possibly interfere with a meeting of the Parliament of World Religions. And while such conferences usually only merit passing mention in the paper — perhaps a paragraph at the bottom of Peter Steinfels' Saturday column — Plank views this meeting as rivaling the disappearances for the attention of his star reporter.
It's impossible even to critique these pages. They are awesomely awful. L&J get nothing right in this passage. Nothing. The content of the exposition they cram into this section is as bizarre and inappropriate as Plank's e-mail itself. We have the editor of a national newsweekly displaying none of the perspective or knowledge such a person would need for the job. In a book full of grotesque cartoons and tortured caricatures, Plank may be the strangest creation of all:
I know all anybody cares about is the disappearances. But we need to keep an eye on the rest of the world. You know the United Nations has that international monetarist confab coming up, trying to gauge how we're all doing with the three-currency thing. Personally I like it, but I'm a little skittish about going to one currency unless it's dollars. Guess I'm still provincial. …
The three currencies, we later learn, are dollars, marks and yen. Yes, this book was written in 1995. No, that doesn't excuse L&J from failing to anticipate the adoption of the euro.
… Everybody's pretty enamored with this Carpathia guy from Romania who so impressed your friend Rosenzweig. He's got everybody in a bind in the upper house in his own country because he's been invited to speak at the U.N. in a couple of weeks …
Yeah, a Romanian lawmaker making a speech to the U.N. That's Page 1 stuff.
… Nobody knows how he wangled an invitation, but his international popularity reminds me a lot of Walesa or even Gorbachev. Remember them? Ha!
WTF? It's surreal. Who can possibly defend a passage this awful? How did 40 million readers plow through these pages? And what horrible aesthetic, mental and spiritual scars do they bear as a result of this ordeal?