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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Aziz Ansari's SNL opener: "There's no place like home" is still true- if you can figure out where that is.


Since the President lifted lines from a Batman movie for his inaugural address, the Government Printing Office should move at once to start a new set of archive volumes, "State Papers of American Comedians, and let Ansari's set open Volume 1, and give it pride of place next to "Public Papers of the Presidents."

I particularly enjoyed his reflections on life in the newly insane Carolinas. My family has been here since before the Revolution, but Ansari and I have the same problem:
You know who I’m talking about. There’s like this new, lower-case K.K.K. movement that started — this kind of casual white supremacy. “Oh, let me put my foot in the pool and see how cold this water really is.” No! No! I’m talking about these people that are running around saying stuff like, “Trump won! Go back to Africa!” “Trump won! Go back to Mexico!” They see me: “Trump won, go back — to where you came from.” 
Yeah. They’re not usually geography buffs. 
[APPLAUSE] 
Is that the plan, by the way? We’re all going to move? All the minorities? Forty-some percent of the country? Every minority’s going to move? 
BeyoncĂ©’s going to move? BeyoncĂ© ain’t moving. 
I ain’t moving. O.K.? My parents — 
[APPLAUSE] 
My parents moved from India to South Carolina in the early ’80s. They didn’t move until nine years ago. You know where they moved? North Carolina. They love it here. They’re not leaving.
Me, I've been told I need to go home, too.

I don't know how to answer. Is home where your people are? Then I have to choose between a graveyard in Texas, and one of two in Richmond County, North Carolina. One of them- the new, preferred locale for my aged relatives' interments- is on the private property of an uncle. I might get arrested for trespass if I tried to set up camp in the woods to await my call.

Robert Frost was wrong when he wrote, "Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in." Among the living of my people, doors done long since hit me on the way out.

Shelby, my nominal hometown, where I graduated high school?

Not likely. Stop at a business in The City of Pleasant Living, and you are likely to see one of these:



Not the formulation, "where you belong." Last October, Governor Pat McCrory praised my hometown as "the real North Carolina"-  place where his bathroom bill is only a good start:
“I need to let you know this is not just a Charlotte debate,” he said when asked about HB2. “As governor now, not as a former mayor, I need to tell you, if you think this is only a Charlotte issue, you need to think (about) what people are saying about it 20 miles outside of Charlotte.” 
McCrory listed the names of several smaller cities — Shelby, Lincolnton and Wadesboro — as examples of places where support for HB2 runs much stronger.
So where does that leave me? Portland or Seattle, between which I lived for thirty years? Can't afford to move back, can't afford to stay when I get there.

I used to think of a quartet of counties in the North Carolina Sandhills as home: Richmond, Hoke, Scotland, and Cumberland. They still send Democrats to the General Assembly and have such substantial minority populations that overtly discriminatory behavior is sporadic.

But when they do send Democrats to Raleigh, they tend to send the stupidest ones with free time on their hands. Almost half the eleven Democrats who voted for HB2 admitted, afterward, they had no idea what it would do.

My undergraduate alma mater, St Andrews University, is the only one of its peer group of North Carolina schools not to take a stand in opposition to HB2. They sit on their hands, humming loudly, staring at passing clouds.

Aziz Ansari ended his monolog last night with this:
I want to leave you guys with a serious thought. I know there’s a lot of people that are worried right now. This is a weird time. 
If you’re excited about Trump, great. He’s president. Let’s hope he does a great job. 
If you’re scared about Trump and you’re very worried, you’re going to be O.K., too. Because if you look at our country’s history, change doesn’t come from presidents. Change comes from large groups of angry people. And if Day 1 is any indication, you are part of the largest group of angry people I have ever seen. 
[APPLAUSE] 
Good luck to you.
I reckon I will just hunker down where I am. The leadership of Charlotte is predictable and mostly self-cancelling. The Democrats will come to any event, sup at any fundraiser, and promise anything to anyone so long as doing anything isn't required. They got burned by HB2, see, and when the squeeze got uncomfortable, they heaved their LGBT constituents over the side faster than Alfred Hitchcock did characters in Lifeboat (to their credit, they said recently they were thinking about talking about re-enacting their antidiscrimination ordinance, but in a purely symbolic, unenforceable way: a gesture while we wait our turn).

Charlotte Republicans, who all live in a big white triangle on the South Side, make no pretense of caring about my rights, but their free market principles demand that they take a hands-off view. The market should pick winners and losers, under advice from Mark Harris, who is pastor of First Baptist Church when he is not running unsuccessfully for federal office to write his loathing of minorities into law.

Mind, when pushed, Charlotte Republicans will vote for discrimination. There aren't enough gays to swing an election, after all, and no one has figured out how to stack them all in one district the way they have the blacks and browns in two.

My wild card, "go back to" choice is Drakes Branch, VA, a village my family lived in from 1959 to 1960. But it is dying fast as a going civic proposition and rests at the epicenter of the anti-integration Massive Resistance campaign, where the public schools were all shut down for a couple of years rather than let black kids attend them.

That DNA is still in the people, and the rule for gays in the country is you just don't move there unless you have enough money to buy tolerance, acreage and a top-notch perimeter security system.

So I feel kind of like the old man Alben Barkley- Harry Truman's vice president and a longtime Kentucky congressman and senator- remembered from his hometown in the early 1900s.

Asked which side he was on in a heated local campaign, the old man replied, "I haven't decided yet. But when I do, I'll be mad as hell!"


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