PINCH ME: These are no ordinary times. Last week, the oldest, biggest tablets bearing the Ten Commandments — the moral code for Western civilization — were auctioned off for a mere $850,000. The tablets, made of marble and weighing 115 pounds, were roughly 1,800 years old. Conspicuously missing from the stone inscription, however, were the commandment against taking the Lord’s name in vain.
Later last week, the sparkling, sequined dress into which tragic sex icon Marilyn Monroe was surgically infused while she famously sang — all heat and humidity — “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to then-president John F. Kennedy one year before he was assassinated, was auctioned off for $4.8 million.
With the sudden popularity of fake news, we have elected a new president about whom what’s actually real could not be made up. In the past week, President-elect Donald Trump announced he will appoint as Attorney General Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, whose previous appointment to federal judge 30 years ago ended in failure when it was revealed he once called a black assistant attorney “boy” after telling him he needed to learn how to talk to “white folks.”
Sessions was named after both Jefferson Davis — president of the Confederate States of America — and Confederate general Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, hero to the South who launched the attack on Fort Sumter in 1861 that triggered the American Civil War. After the war, Beauregard, an ardent Democrat, embraced civil rights for freed slaves and emerged as a strong proponent of black voting rights. Sessions’s political evolution, however, has conspicuously failed to keep pace with that of this latter namesake. During confirmation hearings in 1986, Sessions was asked to explain why he described the NAACP as “un-American or Communist.” He didn’t deny or disavow. “I meant no harm by it,” he replied.
Sessions’s imminent appointment is just one of many reasons why a roomful of white ethno-state nationalists and alt-right activists meeting in a federal office building named after Republican former president Ronald Reagan could explode, as they did this past weekend, with an orgasmic spasm of arm-jutting “Heil Victory” salutes.
Only in a universe as weird as this could displaced media elites seek reassurance from the allegedly steadying presence of Jared Kushner, Trump’s 35-year-old son-in-law and real estate mogul. Kushner is now famous for booting Chris Christie, New Jersey governor and fat slob, off the Trump transition team because Christie put Kushner’s father in the slammer for a year on charges of tax evasion, illegal campaign donations, and witness tampering. The last charge stemmed from the fact that Kushner senior discovered his brother-in-law, William Schulder, was helping investigators. In retaliation, he hired a $10,000 call girl to “seduce” Schulder and videotape the proceedings. Kushner then mailed the tape to his sister. She responded by turning it over to the FBI.
No, this is not fake news. I’m not making this up. I don’t need to.
Sessions has scored major brownie points with the “Heil to the Chief” crowd because he heartily believes that all Muslims should be kept out of the United States, not just the crazy ones. Not only did Sessions vote against a measure while in the Senate that would ban the United States from adopting policies based on religious discrimination, but he also spoke passionately against it for 30 minutes. Sessions is hardly the only one Trump hopes to appoint with the same both-barrels-blazing shotgun approach toward all Muslims. His National Security Advisor-to-be, former lieutenant general Michael Flynn, famously tweeted “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL” and developed a reputation among colleagues on the Defense Intelligence Agency for asserting threats — “Flynn facts” as they became known — not borne out. Adding fuel to the fire, the head of the Great America PAC just told an incredulous Fox news anchor Megyn Kelly that the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II — and the creation of ethnic-based registries — was, in fact, constitutionally sound. Never mind that Earl Warren — California’s Republican attorney general who led the roundup, later the state’s governor, and eventually the nation’s chief justice — later expressed abject horror at his actions. So, too, would former president Reagan — also a one time California governor.
My solution? A bit gimmicky, but simple. We should all convert to Islam. We can’t hope to sway the New Regime from persecuting people based on religion. It’s a waste of time. But if we convert in large numbers, perhaps we can muddy their waters. The point here is not merely political correctitude for its own sake. It’s that by tarring 1.6 billion Muslim people — the world’s second largest religion — with the broad brush of terrorism, we are making the world a much sorrier place, but not a lick more safe. In fact, by ignoring and obliterating key differences among different Muslim sects, we’re making the world considerably more dangerous.
It turns out that Islam has high holy days in which families get together, give gifts, and engorge themselves. Sound familiar? It turns out Islam and Judeo-Christianity can trace their origins to the same weird fork in the world religion road. Both hark back to the biblical figure Abraham and his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. The Jewish tradition is about God telling Abraham to kill his beloved son, Isaac. The Muslim tradition is all about God telling Abraham to cast Ishmael and the boy’s mother, Hagar, out to the desert, where both will surely perish. In both traditions, Abraham does what he’s told. In both, Isaac and Ishmael are ultimately spared. God lets it be known he was just faking. Seems like a crazy premise upon which to base any religion, let alone three of the world’s biggest. But these are no normal times. In this context, converting to Islam just might help. If nothing else, it’s a gesture of defiance, hope, and communion when the world needs all three.
And if that doesn’t work, then goddamn!