Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ironically, if you take out the atheism, it's almost like a Bible story.

I don’t want to cast blame about. But it’s Maeve’s fault. She has consulted the oracle they call Froogle. Froogle son of Google son of Gloin, the “product search engine and shopping directory” of the otherwise respectable Oogle family. In an inexplicable fit of madness, this wrecking ball of consumerism was launched almost two years ago, setting in motion the events we now know will culminate in the destruction of the human race. Or at the very least, my own personal peace of mind: for Froogle has spoken. When my noble coniurata of old, Maeva, attempted to search for and purchase me, Froogle’s only answer was that my name does not match any products in Froogle. And then it asked her did she mean Katie Kessler. Yes, she said, yes that is what she must mean; for the Froogle is never wrong. If the Froogle replaces your unmarketable name with one that makes a profit, who are you, nameless vessel of expendable income, to argue? Froogle can trace its lineage all the way to Durin the Deathless. Froogle knows.

What defines a Kessler, I wondered. My former self, though unemployed and deeply indebted on account of her exceedingly liberal liberal arts education, had pledged that even so, she could never work for a Republican. The ripple effect of making copies of somebody’s minutes in the county legislator’s office might, however remotely, contribute to the growing success the GOP has had crushing civil rights under the steamroller of misused religious principles, making this free country just that much less free, and that is a thing in which I would under no circumstances take part. How, then, did I find myself at my old church this morning, a church I more or less renounced five years ago, a place in which I stood up and lied to the entire congregation about my belief in God before being baptized in the name of the Lord Christ Our Savior like a heathen who agrees to a meaningless ceremony in order to get the benefits of external peace? Alas! A Kessler is for sale.

At church, filling in for the very nice secretary, Kessler read her book in the office, enjoying the air conditioning. The air conditioning of the risen blue-eyed Christ I know from Sunday school. Enjoying it. Kessler met the other staff and liked them, and when Kessler accidentally said, after losing yet another caller to a botched transfer or dead battery, “These phones are the devil!” she quickly added, “I mean they’re just dreadful.” When she created and typed up the calendar of church events, she winced when she had to include the National Day of Prayer, but she did it, true to the interests of the good people of the church. And then, when the staff for some reason came to discuss politics, Kessler learned that the staff saw similarities between how the current administration had begun to address fear with legislation and how the German government handled the feelings of its own fearful and resentful people in the thirties, and Kessler was pleased.

Then, someone said people just didn’t understand what the nation was founded on anymore. Someone said, taking “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t fall in with what we stand for, what we’ve always stood for. Someone said, the problem is these people coming into the country now, they don’t want to be like us. Back in the days of Ellis Island, people changed their names to be like us. Now they don’t do that.

In the air-conditioned room full of electronics and wired with Internet access, in a building flying the American flag, in a town where 93% of the inhabitants have had a high school or higher education, in a state that has been known to launch its governors into the Presidency, Kessler waited for some kind, pleasant, innocuous person to utter the word “darkie.”

And aside from deleting the National Day of Prayer from the church calendar, Kessler did nothing. She did not say that the most enormous threat facing this one nation under God is the self-righteousness of its own citizens, many or most of whom seem to believe that naturalized Americans do not quite deserve the freedom that the unnaturalized have (through no effort of their own). She did not say that as soon as we admit that we wants it all for ourselves, and as soon as that admission becomes alright, we are going to lose it. She did not say that the nation was founded and runs on violence and injustice and fear as much as on freedom, and that it is the uncritically kind and pleasant people, the totally innocuous people, who are as destructive as the purposely malicious ones.

But, in the grand tradition of being polite when faced with appalling ignorance and racism so internalized that it isn’t evident to the person who implies it, the Froogled Kessler did not say anything at all.

Shame on Kessler.

Having had this bizarre experience of temporarily reverting to the social values of 1950, I have come to think of Froogle as the divining rod which leads us to the best selection of our inner cowards, displayed 15 per page, sorted by category or price, and available in 0.66 seconds. Thus I warn you, go ye unto Froogle for hat racks (they have some neat ones) or beef jerky by the pound (if you must), but go ye not unto that place to see how much you cost because it will prompt you to write long, angsty posts about it on your blog which, once Homeland Security starts hunting “suspected terrorists,” will get you called before the Senate, and then at some point you’ll probably have to deal with Tucker Carlson and, sweet blue-eyed Jesus, there could be no more fitting punishment.


Lindsey said...

i am proud to share a blog with you. deleting national prayer day from the church calendar... classic.

.Maeve said...

i hope they paid you more than kessler was asking on ebay.

Anonymous said...

if you actually google your given name (excluding middle initial or name), there are two links that are actually quite acurate.. listing you in college, and also one noting a certain award, which I assume was for your grandfather, but you must have been listed as well. -C