Foxes and Ben King


      Like the fox giving advice in the henhouse, the latest tele-apologist for bullydom has recently opined on Disney’s attempt to make human relations training more inclusive. While I readily agree that “staff training” of any kind can be more about covering the topic—whatever it is—than actually changing the institution, I was intrigued by the fault the fox had found. Any overly-earnest instructor who actually tries to challenge students must be careful about who is listening. Even though the point of the training is to make institutional change, such a trainer is expected to deliver the message in such a way that those opposed to change will not be disturbed. Having taught for thirty years helps me to savor the contradiction.

            With the glossy sincerity of a televangelist who has already pocketed the collection, the foxy host showed concern (by raising eyebrows) for democracy—a concern serenely suppressed as the insurrection of January 6 has become a season of electoral tomfoolery. He worried so about the trainees being told not to say “all lives matter” and being exposed to dangerous ideas of critical race theory, such as systemic racism. He called to the congregation for an Amen and got it—without even needing an altar-call or having to show animated fervor by mussing his hair or his perfect part. 

            Later in the day, I passed by one of those mall speakers that’s usually blasting out something I don’t want to hear. I stopped. It was Ben King singing “Stand by Me,” an anthem hymn to all the young men—Isaac Woodward, Emmet Till, Rodney King, Michael Brown, George Floyd—whose black lives did not matter and could be disregarded. Who stood up for them? Certainly their families and some sad, angry protestors—some of them not even black. What about institutions? Walking backwards in molasses: the sweet nostalgia of the way things never were. At the end of his henhouse sermon, the fox invited the congregation to come forward and testify against Cancel Culture. Afterward, Mrs. Fulva Vulpes served her famous casserole.

–Richard L. Rose   (See the review of Propaganda’s Terraform.)


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