The U.N. Goes to Junior High – The Progressive, 11/20/2006

I could hardly get to the computer repair shop. My system crash had occurred as I wrote about UN Security Council meetings this fall in Manhattan. The town was a grid-locked parking lot. When I finally arrived, the computer guy told me, ”Your logic board is broken.” “Of course it is,” I responded. “You should see what I’m writing.” The raw data I’ve been inputting would shut down any logic board.

The UN had morphed into a middle school playground at recess. There was bullying. George Bush was talking directly to the Afghani people, as if they had electricity and were watching him on their flat panel TVs. There was the “I know you are, but what am I?” taunting, from Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There was name calling from Hugo Chavez. The onlooking crowd of delegates did “Oh no you ditn’t” neck moves that needed no translation. Unfortunately, some of these boys have nuclear sticks and stones.

Perhaps it’s the lingering sulphurous futility of trying to make something logical out of war that has so twisted our times.

In his efforts to open religious dialogue, The Pope said that Islam is evil and inhuman. Now come on over for some beer and a brat! Who is his press person? Someone from Tom Cruise’s old entourage? I tried the papal “apologia” in confession: “Bless me father, I’m sorry you think I’ve sinned.” I was asked to leave.

In response to the selectively released intelligence study which stated that our presence in Iraq is worsening the situation there, that master of illogic, Dick Cheney, said we must stay in Iraq because the situation is worsening.

In dizzying daily conversation, those who have changed their position on the war think they deserve more street cred than those who were against it from the start.

What to do in the face of such paralyzingly deliberate, denying illogic? In addition to the bracing necessary acts of civic participation – working for a candidate, voter registration, running for office, voting, fund-raising, phone banking, poll monitoring – I humbly suggest another tactic.

The sit-in was a simple, brilliant tactic of the civil rights movement. The die-in was a brilliant tactic of the AIDS movement. To those esteemed protest methods, I would add the laugh-in. Not that too short-lived variety show from the Nixon years, though it is still quite subversive, even in reruns. No, the laugh -in maneuver I’m talking about can be done in large groups or one-on-one. So far this hidden weapon cannot be detected by the new Behavior Detection Officers on security.

After listening to huge steaming piles of illogic for a respectful five minutes or so, let go with a guffawing, rip-snorting howl of bend-at-the-waist laughter. If you have infiltrated a crowd, a lecture or rally, let out your whoop, pound on the seat in front of you, recover yourself, then perhaps with a small wave of the hand, indicate to those around you that you’ve regained your composure. Wait ten minutes and do it again.

If it’s a one on one situation, or a small dinner party, as you right yourself after your hoot, wipe your eyes, try to catch your breath, sigh, look at the speaker, do a respectable double-take, and wide eye the person with, “Oh my God, you mean it.” Repeat. They will never say those things again with any degree of confidence. It’s a sure no-fire way to interrupt illogic.

Kate “Spit-Takes for Peace” Clinton is a humorist.