Lance Morrow (WSJ, p, A15, Oct. 1,2, MAGA Is to Woke As Errol Flynn Is to Henry Fonda) is enthralled with the 1935 film 'Captain Blood” and the dashing way it portrayed piracy - as compared to the woeful “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940) with Henry Fonda. In his words:
"One is a swashbuckling 17th-century pirate’s tale, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland; the other is a quasi-documentary melodrama, starring Henry Fonda, heartless bankers, vicious fruit growers and the Dust Bowl. Consider the two movies to be allegories that explore the difference between MAGA and Woke. Captain Blood captures the essence of MAGA—or, anyway, of MAGA’s slightly piratical idea of itself. 'The Grapes of Wrath' is a masterpiece of what might be called sentimental realism, heavily laden with Christian and socialist formulations. Ask yourself which of the movies speaks to your heart "
Okay, let's do that, Morrow. One - Grapes of Wrath- deals seriously with the human struggles of the Joad family during the Great Depression and the sacrifices made by each member. The other, Captain Blood, extols the fantasy and false freedom of piracy laying waste to norms and raising chaos all over hell's half acre. Hey wait! That sounds just like Trump's MAGA tribe! But see, what hack Morrow derisively calls 'woke' is actually a consciousness of the other's pain and limits to attaining expansion. Charles A. Reich in his book, 'The Greening of America'. first envisioned the path past false consciousness to entail evolution through three stages he called: "Consciousness I, Consciousness II, and Consciousness III".
Consciousness I identified with the nation’s early self-reliance; Consciousness II associated with the New Deal era; and Consciousness III marked an unshackling from the stifling moral constraints of the 1950s, focusing on spiritual fulfillment. In today's context that fulfillment - independent of religious affiliation- would have recognized Trump's total lack of any moral compass and hence his unfitness as a leader. The MAGAs, whose "freedom" Morrow likens to the pirates' of old, are as bankrupt of moral compass for not seeing Trump as dysfunctional, which means acting on that perception too. Hence, in Reich's terminology, they are imbued with false consciousness.
The Joads, then, demonstrated the self reliance and Consciousness I, which Morrow dismisses as "sentimental realism". But to me, that is exactly what appeals and speaks to the heart. At least a human heart, as opposed to an ape heart. To fix ideas, Charles Reich's description (op. cit, p. 392) of the unaware or 'unwoke' in the 1960s matches the millions of MAGAs in the regressed mind warp today, under the spell of Trumpism. It also embodies what is false freedom, because it operates under a false consciousness, i.e.
"He is unable to understand his society, unable to vote in a responsible way, unable to communicate with his own children or to understand their culture. He is allowed to become human wreckage because his mind stopped growing while all the elements around him moved ahead."
Yet Morrow, in his own deliberately chosen false consciousness, ignores this - writing:
"The Rorschach value of “Captain Blood” and “The Grapes of Wrath,” as applied to the 2022 elections, depends upon your thinking of them not as literal models but as self-sufficient myths, outside time: as attitudes— as fantasies of the self in its relation to power or powerlessness."
In other words- and comporting with the rest of his deplorable piece- voting MAGA and embracing the fantasy of false freedom on offer from the GOP. A false freedom on 'steroids' thanks to gobbling Trump's abominable lies and QAnon offal, as laid out by NY Times' Michelle Goldberg, e.g.
Trump’s Heartless QAnon Embrace
“The cynical GOP leaders who know that Trump is unfit for office and that many of his cult followers have become violent and should not be treated as ordinary party hacks. They are enablers of a dangerous movement. Yet they continually evade persistent, aggressive questioning.
Compare this with the mainstream media’s response to Biden’s recent speech condemning the MAGA movement. Yet many in the mainstream media turned up their noses. “Biden should have been more welcoming,” they said. “He’s too divisive!”
This reached a nadir with ABC's gig reporter Martha Raddatz who actually claiming Biden was "spreading hate" after his Labor Day speech which I praised on its timing before the midterms, e.g.
Yet none of the major networks had the insight or courage to televise it, deeming it "too political and not of national concern." Confirming again the corporate media is a hostage to the "both sides", false equivalence tropes. This is exactly why too many in our nation can't discern genuine freedom from its false twin that claims - like Morrow does - it's attainable without any responsibility.
The Joad's, in Steinbeck's 1940 novel 'The Grapes of Wrath', demonstrated responsibility as citizens - despite being economically deprived and suffering in the Great Depression. The same can't be said for Trump's QAnon-MAGA Tribe who would rather kill opponents based on specious, vile lies regarding 'Lizard people" DNA and stolen elections. Just like bloodthirsty pirates of old which Morrow holds in such high esteem, as he does the fascists.
Think I'm exaggerating the threat? According to the statistic source FiveThirtyEight, out of 552 Republicans on the ballot in 2022, 201 have stated that the 2020 election was stolen, or taken actions to overturn the results. Another 61 have "raised questions" about the outcome - this despite several bogus audits, in these states, e.g. Arizona, found at the end Biden was still the clear winner.
Perhaps the biggest Morrow detraction (shared with other imps, including Bill Maher) concerns the crazy denunciations of the 'Woke mob' and "cancel culture" - which at least to Morrow proved the MAGAs were more about "freedom". Not so. The logical error made is in the claim that freedom of speech is equivalent to freedom from criticism. It isn't.
Any red-capped MAGA - or Lance Morrow - has the right to say whatever he damned well pleases no matter how offensive, ignorant, stupid or outrageous. But if I deem it effluent and respond in an acerbic, biting or highly critical way that is my right. That's the funny thing about freedom of speech, it cuts both ways. Something that Morrow and the MAGAs ought to process before they next go bonkers claiming there exists a "woke mob" out to "cancel their freedoms."
No, not at all. Those of us deemed more "woke" simply want the MAGA cohort to grasp that when its denizens - whether in the media, on Reddit, 4chan or wherever - spout bollocks there is the implicit potential for harsh criticism. That is not the same as cancellation.
Make no mistake: Donald Trump is effectively on the ballot in the midterm elections, five weeks from tomorrow (voting has already begun in several states). Even if he decides not to run, he’s laying the groundwork for authoritarianism.
In the upcoming midterms, 60 percent of us will have an election denier on our ballot, most of them endorsed by Trump. In the key battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania