Though most Americans think of it in a different way, specifically in the context of a “variety show,” the form of entertainment known as burlesque originated in the 1500’s and found its expression in literature and art, as well as stage. To our American minds, burlesque describes the form of entertainment which was usually categorized by exaggeration and ridicule – usually of some specific group or individual. This later evolved into another popular form of entertainment – the minstrel show.
In our politically correct environment, there is little discussion of this form of entertainment. The majority of these performances were acted by whites who wore “black face.” Normally in a minstrel show there were caricatures of those whom the performers mocked. Typically, one of the characters was a fop and another was a fool.
What is totally absent from this “non-conversation” is the fact that the minstrel show was further developed by American blacks who accentuated their innate “blackness” by applying “black face” and whose shows similarly mocked other blacks. This is as inconvenient a truth as the fact that it is well documented that before the Civil War more than 3500 black Americans owned black American slaves and white indentured servants. Rather than deal with the facts of history, the liberal left has chosen either to ignore, expunge or alter it for their own purposes.
It would not be difficult to argue that the minstrel shows with white actors were primarily motivated by racism – both on the parts of the writers and were well received by a similarly inclined audience. But if the sole purpose of the show was to castigate another race, one would similarly expect that the black minstrel show would turn to ridiculing whites. Why then did they follow the same tradition of their fellow white artists?
The other day I had lunch at one of the neighborhood casinos. I finished my meal and was returning to the parking garage. Waiting for the elevator was a black male whom I would put in his early thirties, a black woman in her late twenties and her little girl about four years old. As the elevator opened, I immediately drew a picture of the black man – who he was and what he was about.
He stood in front of the door and started to walk in without waiting for the elderly woman who was trying to get off to make her exit. Without waiting for his female companion or child (or me) to get on, he turned to the control panel and pushed the button for his floor.
Once we all were aboard, he continued his conversation with the young woman. I didn’t hear his previous comments, but in the short space of two floors on a slow elevator, he complained about someone to whom he apparently owed fifty dollars and who had asked for his money. He categorized this person as a “faggot-assed white cracka.” The young woman looked at me apologetically and with some embarrassment.
I couldn’t help but think if the little girl were raised in an environment where that kind of language is prevalent, she would naturally learn not only to express herself in those terms but would be molded into viewing the world in this racist manner. It is the same mentality that allows the perpetuation of the word “Nigger” to be used within the ghetto community. That word is abhorrent – perhaps even more so when one black applies it to another – because it is not only a statement of disparagement but it is more importantly an expression of self-loathing. Words do indeed matter.
To return to the art of burlesque with its exaggerations and portrayal of individuals as buffoons, the image of President Obama quickly leapt into my thoughts. In the world of hyperbolic phrases which were invented to convey a disparaging image of blacks, the phrase “shiftless and lazy” comes to thought. I have never heard anyone other than a black person described using that phrase. And if we were to find the archetype for it, one could argue there is no finer example than the current occupant of the White House.
It seems that not a day passes when the administration seems to be caught off guard by some new crisis – the latest being the challenge to and invasion of our southern border. Cast as a “humanitarian crisis” it is one of this administration’s own conception and implementation. This “most transparent of all administrations” is perhaps one of the most opaque – rivaling Soviet Russia under Lenin. And while I have long debated whether it is merely incompetent or unprepared, I now am of the mind that it is, plain and simple, morally corrupt beyond redemption.
If this were an isolated instance, a fair and open-minded person might offer the administration the benefit of the doubt. We have all made mistakes. But this “crisis” is only the most recent of a string of missteps and outright failures. There is no need to point to the other “phony scandals” because they are well-documented and the reader of this blog should certainly already be aware of them. But to what might we turn for a glimmer of hope that there is some basic decency in the Obama administration that has resulted in some positive results? After five and one half years and trying as honestly as I might, I am unable to find a single plan, program or policy that has worked as it was purportedly intended.
Perhaps it is unfair to categorize the Obama administration as being burlesque. A more appropriate phrase might be “theater of the absurd.” But while we might be brought to tears through laughter, we also may find ourselves sobbing because of a profound tragedy. And there is nothing sadder than the travesty which is currently unfolding on the stage of the American theater.