A number of concerned citizens and perturbed politicos have complained that the work of art outside the majestic new Memphis Public library's entrance, a piece which supposedly represents the wisdom of the ages, contains the old (but still potentially harmful) communist battle cry, "Workers of the world, unite." It's etched in the stone walkway adjacent to a carving of that childhood fave cum druggie icon the Cat in the Hat.
This excerpt from Marx's atheistic screed has been duly criticized by a number of local patriots via scalding letters to the press. It has also raised the hackles of such would-be commie-busters as City Councilman Brent Taylor and County Commissioner Marilyn Loeffel, a proud suburban mother who has been unjustly dubbed the Virgin Mary by leftists sympathetic to the Communist cause.
Realizing the political jeopardy in which they were placing themselves by taking a stand on this hot-button issue that so directly affects the day to day lives of so many Memphians, and without the slightest regard for the ease and cost-efficency of the publicity such a stand would bring, the two moral leaders have denounced the art as "bad stuff" and proposed that the words be be removed with a sand blaster. Other proposals included the addition of more New Testament quotes or the creation of an additional artwork pointing out the manifold evils of Communism. The quote caused such a brouhaha that it caught the eye of many national media outlets including that long time Communist scandal sheet The New York Times.
Some pink-leaning observers have claimed that this is a perfect example censorship, oppression and hysteria in this newly conservative post 9/11 era, where, according to our nations top legals, dissent is tantamount to treason.
But the simple fact is, if you look closely at our new public artwork and at the library itself, alarms immediately go off and it becomes quite clear that the quote "Workers of the world unite" should be among the least of our worries. There is a vast array of potentially hazardous iconography hidden in the monolithic sculpture, including snippets of pagan lore and oblique references to the irresponsible theory that mankind (only a notch below the angels) once swung from long and limber tails.
There is a large picture of a hand with its two center fingers and thumb drawn in toward the center of the palm, the universal sign representing both heavy metal music and its evil inventor, the Christian Devil. There is another equally disturbing representation of a hand adorned with the kind of arcane symbology that suggests the occult. As if all the red propaganda and witchcraft wasn't disturbing enough, the art bears quotations by homosexuals (both suspected and known) and at least one very graphic depiction of a male sexual organ (fortunately not engorged).
Friends, it's no accident that these images grace the library's main entrance. They are not mere decoration. They are clear indicators of the dangerous geophysical and neopolitical pornographies housed like welfare babies within the walls of this tax-supported institution. Our library system may try to position itself as a benevolent entity dedicated to the judicious accumulation of human knowledge, but further investigation reveals it to be a filthy Gomorrah packed with dangerous ideas and dirty pictures.
Outside the library is the quote from the Communist Manifesto. Inside there is an entire book by Adolph Hitler. And that's just the beginning.
To see evidence of the ongoing plot to weaken our national morals one need look no further than the entrance to the new library's children's book section. A fake forest has been erected there. Trees with yellow, green, and red "candy-colored" trunks guard a golden path to the obviously satanic Harry Potter series.
The secret commie meaning of this art installation is two-fold. First, the brilliant, unnatural colors are obviously an effort on behalf of the designers to simulate the effects of a way-out "trip" on pot or perhaps on the drug known as LSD. The communists know that it will be easier to control our children's thoughts once they are hooked on these addictive mind-altering drugs.
Don't believe it? Peruse the shelves and you'll find The Practitioner's Guide to Psychoactive Drugs and a number of Terrence McKenna's blasphemous texts which credit psylocybin mushrooms with miracles of creation that should be rightfully ascribed to God Almighty. And if dabbling with drugs leads to any scrapes with the law, F.D. Rosenthal's Marijuana, the Law and You: A Guide To Minimizing Legal Consequences should prove to be a useful resource. It is, as one might suspect, also available.
And anyone who stayed awake through freshman English knows that in literature the "forest" always represents something else: a place of discovery, magic and sexual transformation. Long story short, it's where kids go to fornicate against their parents' wishes. The collected works of William Shakespeare (a possible warlock and homosexual) are filled to bursting with lurid arboreal references. Therefore the library's colorful, deceptively innocent "forest" must be chopped down immediately, before our children get any deeper into Satan's woods.
While on the topic of Satan it may be appropriate to point out that there are a number of texts on Satan worship and the occult in our library, including a selection of works by the demonic conjurer Aleister Crowley. Crowley practiced a type of black art which incorporated a number of perverse sex acts. Those who wish to learn more about sex before attempting any of Crowley's studied suggestions may wish to peruse the library's extensive collection of sex-related books and videos. Younger readers who may not be ready for the Kama Sutra can always turn to Carole Marsh's practical text, Sex Stuff for Kids 7-17.
Before leaving the topic of sex, magik, and satanism it must be mentioned that the Dewey decimal number 666 denotes texts which are devoted to an insidiously innocuous art form widely associated with the strictly forbidden creation of "graven images." Is it at all surprising that when searching through section 666 one of the first listings you come across is a book titled The Magic of Ceramics? No indeed. No indeed.
Topping the list of blasphemous texts is a pair of false Bibles. The Roof Framer's Bible obviously insinuates that God is a tar-paper shingle while The Investor's Bible clearly leads one to worship Allen Greenspan. It's unconscionable. It's wrong.
There are, just as one might expect in this communist stronghold, many books about communism in both theory and practice. Too many to list here. Former Soviet prime minister Nikita Kruschev claimed that the fundamental goals of Marx and Lenin would not be relinquished "till shrimp learn to whistle." You won't hear any shrimp whistling at the new library, not by a long shot.
Finally, while there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the Koran, Americans are now all too aware of how it can be interpreted by evil men with evil plans. Can we really afford to have this book sharing shelf space with Tadeusz Urbanski's Chemistry and Technology of Explosives? Can we? I think not.
Bring on the torches. Let the burning begin.
Chris Davis penned a version of this satire for the Memphis Flyer, where he is a staff writer.
Let's begin by repeating all the known quantities and by doing so in the simplest of all possible terms. The Civil War isn't over. It lives on in the hearts and minds of Southerners whose ancestors gave their lives fighting for the "Stars and Bars" and everything for which it currently stands: a fiction, an idealized past imbued with the kind of passionate Gone With the Wind romanticism that is ever the legacy of failed causes.
The African-American community, whose first significant taste of citizenship came not with the Emancipation Proclamation but rather the civil rights movement of the 1960s, is likewise still fighting the Battle of Bull Run. To them the Confederate flag also represents heritage, but a heritage of hardship, oppression, and slavery; a heritage that no amount of equal-opportunity legislation can temper or erase. The issue has been compounded by the number of hateful, often violent, white supremacist groups who have taken up the Rebel banner and effectively branded it as their own.
The battle lines around the flag have been drawn -- hate versus heritage -- with one side fighting to keep the flag, the other attempting to ban it. Oddly enough, at least in this writer's opinion, the opposing sides on this hot-button issue are both actually working against the fulfillment of their agendas. But there is a solution which will weed out the hatemongers and either allow the Confederate flag to continue flying proudly with general public approval or cause it to fall into the dustbin of irrelevant (yes) pop culture.
The problem is that no one who is taking part in this conflict seems to understand the nature of language and symbols. The opposing sides are fighting like a family over a disputed inheritance, with deeply divisive and ultimately negative results. To understand a symbol one has to know that once it has been brought into the world it takes on certain physical, almost Newtonian, properties that are not entirely unlike those ascribed to matter and energy. Language -- of which symbols like flags and insignia are an important subset -- has both weight and mass. It can even, in a certain sense, create its own gravity. Consider how drawn we are, as a culture, to buzzwords, catchphrases, and the like, and you will see that this theory is not so far-fetched. Notice how we "rally round the flag" like little patriotic satellites. Much like matter and energy, such symbols cannot be destroyed, but the terms of their meaning and relevance can be changed.
Placing a ban on the public display of the Confederate flag creates a common cause for its supporters, whether they be on the hate-group or the heritage-minded side of the fence. If you ban the flag, suddenly the two disparate support groups are no longer so very disparate; they are on the same team. History has proven that few actions can galvanize a group to action more than the legal suppression of a beloved symbol. If the flag is banned from public display its influence will be amplified and its general use limited to those who seek to energize their racist causes. Any misty-eyed nostalgia associated with the flag will be changed to vital, contemporary concern. Such is the nature of symbols. Note the history of the swastika -- an image which is banned in Germany -- and its continued use by neo-Nazis around the globe.
So if we don't ban the Confederate flag, how then should we deal with the issue? The solution is simple really, though it will require the cooperation of the African-American community. They must stop protesting the flag and let it wave freely. But this is just the beginning; step two requires a bit more chutzpah. African-American role models -- athletes, musicians, politicians, ministers, and corporate leaders -- must begin the transformation of the flag's image by absorbing it into their culture. Imagine Spike Lee at a Knicks game sporting a warmup suit proudly emblazoned with the Rebel flag. Imagine O.D.B. with it tattooed on his chest. Imagine the African-American community taking the flag's fundamental meaning -- that of rebellion -- and with it creating an all-out fashion revolt against small-mindedness and hate.
In the '80s and '90s, many gays began calling themselves "queer," thereby turning a formerly derogatory label into an empowering brand. They began sporting the word on T-shirts with the whimsical image of a $3 bill. An even more potent statement could be made by incorporating the Confederate flag into black iconography. Those white supporters who now cling to the banner out of a sense of heritage rather than hate should have no problem with this, since their beloved emblem will no longer be an inert reminder of past defeat but rather a vital, relevant symbol for defiance and progress. It will again be what it once was, a glorious rallying point for Americans who feel unduly oppressed. Once the flag has been captured and fully incorporated into black culture to the point of ubiquity it will naturally be relinquished by the hate groups who want nothing to do with the signs and symbols of their enemies. Besides opposing forces can't ride into battle sporting the same flag, now can they?
Let's fix this problem once and for all. Steal this flag.