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Why We Fight, Part 2: Mocking MAGA

As a synonym for MAGA, I have coined the term farce-fascism. Likelier than not, these people will destroy the United States of America, but, Jesus H. Christ, what a ridiculous way to go! Not only are we Americans suffering through the rapid decline and probable fall of our country, which at the end of the twentieth century, just over twenty years ago, was the richest, most powerful, most admired, and most influential empire in history; but we are denied all dignity in the process. What a wrecking crew are we confronted with! Trump, Jared, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ted Cruz, the Q-Anon Shaman, the berserkers on the airplanes, the “ordinary” screaming lunatics at your local school board meeting… when Rome fell, or the British Empire, it was not amid such a festival of bathos. The Manchus were murdered by Western imperialism and internal revolt, not “reality TV.” The Austro-Hungarian Empire was done in by an enormous war, not “social media.”

We feel helpless to stanch the bleeding, so why not give in to helpless laughter? It is even funnier somehow, isn’t it, that our internal barbarians don’t get the joke. We’ve pointed out to them so many times the starkly obvious fact that their emperor has no clothes, as well as no morals, brains, or self-control, but they keep “doubling down” (have you come to loathe that phrase as much as I have?) on the lies about his finery. Remember Mike Pence shaking his head and grinning in that debate back in 2016 every time Tim Kaine pointed out how horrendously awful was the man he had attached himself to? Was Pence mad, or were we? Could it be that the post-modernists were right, and truth is nothing but a function of power? No: The only sane reaction to this torrent of lies and delusions is laughter.

There is an apparent problem, though. The point of all those Hitler burlesques, from the altered newsreel that made it look as if he was dancing a silly jig when he conquered France, to Mel Brooks’s “Springtime for Hitler,” was to cut this terrifying dictator down to size. At the right moment, the impact could be significant, which was why Goebbels was enraged by the jig. But haven’t Trump and the MAGAs shielded themselves from all mockery by knowing self-mockery? Don the Con makes jokes about his own hair, doesn’t he?

Yes, but only on his own terms. He goes berserk anytime anyone scores a point that really hurts, like “Captain Bone Spurs,” and feels obliged to “retaliate.” MAGA, as a movement, has no sense of humor. It wields laughter as a deadly weapon to destroy its enemies, most especially the powerless and helpless, because that is the way of fascists, farcical or not. We certainly can’t afford NOT to use humor against them on the grounds of “civility” or anything else.

Satire does something more, as well as enraging the Great Orange Buffoon and his know-nothing minions. It comes from a standpoint of outraged morality, and therefore points the way to a better world, however implicitly. This particular weapon blade is denied to MAGAs, as it is to all fascists, because they insist on living in a world of anti-morality, one where might alone determines right. And in that sense, mockery cuts to the heart of our struggle: against a world of ruthless power, for a world that strives for justice.

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