Contortionists are caught up in the camera’s eye

Contortionists are caught up in the camera’s eye May 16, 2014

• Somehow a trail of links led me to the collected correspondence of the late Rev. Petroleum V. Nasby, pastor of the Church of the New Dispensation. Nasby was the creation of 19th-century American satirist David Ross Locke. As that Wikipedia entry notes, “the semi-literate spelling in which they are written has often discouraged modern readers,” and Nasby’s racism is expressed in the blunt slurs of the 19th-century, not in the elegant euphemisms of the 21st.

But for all that, the substance of some of the Rev. Nasby’s writing still seems timely. Update the vernacular slang and this bit could be recited at any of the many anti-immigrant rallies held in 2014:

There is now 15 n—rs, men, wimin and childern, or ruther, mail, femail and yung, in Wingert’s Corners, and yisterday another arrove. I am bekomin alarmed, fer ef they inkreese at this rate, in suthin over sixty yeres they’ll have a majority in the town, and may, ef they git mene enuff, tyrannize over us, even ez we air tyrannizin over them. The danger is imminent! …

That right there, the fear that the coming majority will get mean enough to treat us the way we’re treating them now, will probably be a defining characteristic of American politics as we’re waiting for 2042.

• I believe that Wolfeboro, N.H., Robert Copeland is a petrified asshole who suffers from a self-imposed mental defect due to decades of intellect-corroding bigotry. For saying such, I do not apologize — he meets and exceeds the criteria for such.

The partisan poles have flipped since the days of Petroleum V. Nasby. If Abraham Lincoln came back and saw what’s going on in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.

• I haven’t seen the news yet today — is the government still intact? Operation American Spring organizers said they had 10 million fellow anti-Obama protesters “verified, validated” and confirmed for today’s big march on Washington.

Hmm. It seems their process for validating, verifying and confirming participation is about as accurate as the things they’ve been saying about President Obama.

• Here’s another one of those only-in-Florida stories, but also a reminder that such stories don’t have to be dismaying: “Alligator helps nab car theft suspect in Port St. Lucie.” (Yes, this could have happened in, say, Louisiana too. But the thing about Florida seems to be that so many strange things that could have happened someplace else didn’t.)

• This press release is both impressive and, in context, hilarious: “Christianity Today Takes Home 42 Evangelical Press Association Awards.” 

• Agloe, New York. A “trap street” that created its own reality.

• You could click over to read Adrian Warnock’s post titled, “How to tell if you are an Evangelical or a Progressive Christian,” or you could spare yourself that 10 minutes of mind-numbing frustration and just realize it should have been titled, “I will tell you if your are an Evangelical or not.” Gatekeepers gotta keep gates. What else are they gonna do?

• I just realized what Todd Starnes’ pose of nostalgia for the “simpler times” of square dances, homemade pie, segregation and closeted gays reminds me of. The Fox News character is channeling Cook’s Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball, whose folksy letters are shared with the wider world by the great Mallory Ortberg:

These charming, old-timey updates remind us all of a slower, simpler way of life, where neighbors stop to swap plowing tips out by the trading post and run when they see Old Henry coming. Who’s Old Henry? Why, what a question, stranger. Old Henry knows who you are. That much is certain. Old Henry knows who you are just fine. …

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