Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Break-Facts Club by Dr. Michael Flanagan

Does our current government remind anyone of a dysfunctional classroom from the movies, complete with a stereotypical cast of characters? Sort of like the Breakfast Club, but with fear, hate and lies. More like:

The Break-facts Club.

We have classic archetypes that make up this Trumptopian class: the Bully, the Liar, the Thug, the Mean Girl, the Cowboy and the Lackeys. A room full of bullies and wannabe class clowns, who think they are above the rules and can get away with any bad behavior by saying they were only “joking”.

The Bully: Donald Trump

He is the leader of the the class, yet no one really likes or respects him. The prototypical loudmouth who makes fun of the weakest and most vulnerable kids, but his excuse is always that he is joking -- except when he is not joking. Ironically, the Bully can’t take a joke and whines that classmates and teachers (or comedians and news media)  have been “very unfair” to him. He thinks it is wrong when people boo him or his representatives at plays and rallies, or turn their backs at graduation ceremonies. In our Break-facts Club classroom, he may go on to be a used car salesman or a con man. In real life, he becomes the President.

The Liar: Jeff Sessions

This is the kid who, when you catch him talking, claims “no I wasn’t”, even though you were watching him the whole time. This is the guy that makes fun of people’s religions, ethnicities and sexual orientations, but swears he is not a racist even as he goes on to be an avowed white supremacist. He who commits perjury, and gets away with it while laughing it off. Similar to the Bully, the Liar is thin-skinned, and will use his power against those he perceives as making fun of him. Such as having a woman arrested and convicted for laughing at him. In a classroom, he is a sneaky cheater. In Trumptopia, he is the Attorney General.

The Mean Girl: Betsy DeVos

Humiliates anyone “beneath her” -- or who just gets free lunch. She is entitled, and profoundly ignorant, but is popular because of her wealth and connections. She would never be caught dead hanging out with the low-class Bully but uses his power to get what she wants. She lives in a privileged world where discrimination is not only acceptable, it is celebrated. She gets voted “Most Likely to Buy Herself A Cabinet Position”.

The Thug: Greg Gianaforte

A supporter of the Bully, he physically assaults the weaker kids in class, yet still gets elected to the student council. Unchecked, he will simply grow up to be a campaigning congressman that body slams a reporter, then blames that reporter for what happened -- witnesses, facts and audio recording be damned. And then still wins the election.  

The Cowboy: Jeff Abbott

The hyperactive kid who runs around the class constantly talking about guns and shooting people. The kind of student who prompts concerned calls to the guidance counselor. He will grow up to be the Governor of Texas, making terrorist threats against journalists. At a shooting range. Stating (on camera) that he should carry a gun around in case he sees any reporters.

The Lackeys: Paul Ryan, Jared Kushner, and Kevin McCarthy

These kids are weasels, too sniveling to be bullies in their own right.  But they back up the Bully, laugh at his stupid jokes and kick the vulnerable kids when they are down, in order to remain in the Bully’s favor.

Like Paul Ryan smiling after passing a health care bill that leaves 23 million without health insurance in order to enrich the Bully and his friends. Or Jared Kushner, always self-servingly whispering in the Bully’s ear, egging him on. Or Congressman Kevin McCarthy claiming he was “joking” when he said the Bully was paid by Putin.

The Gang: Putin, Erdogan and Duterte

These are the neighborhood gang members. The dropouts, who are already pursuing a hardcore life of crime. The wannabe-tough guy Bully desperately craves their approval.  

The gang is lead by Putin who terrorizes journalists and citizens through good old-fashion fascism. Then there’s the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan who sics his attack dogs on peaceful protesters across from the Turkish Embassy. And the Philippine leader Rodrigio Duterte, who encourages his soldiers to commit rapes during the martial law that he instituted in order to kill drug dealers and users without benefit of trial.

Unfortunately, this type of behavior is not contained to a movie, or a metaphorical classroom. It is reality. We would not tolerate these characters or behaviors running amok in our schools, so how long can we continue to allow them to run amok in our government?

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