Crazy Uncle Donald
May 2, 2017
Most families have at least one. Mine sure did. You know, the wacky old guy who makes everyone uncomfortable at holiday gatherings. Sure, he may have been a she in your family; women more than match up and stories of crazy aunt Louise or the eccentric matriarch abound. But, for me it was grandpa Carl.
Carl was a brewery worker and picked up the bulk of his considerable wisdom while tending the kettles at Schlitz. Carl had a never-ending list of racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic jokes that he told and retold at every family gathering. Since I was the eldest male child, I even got to privately hear jokes too blue to be shared at the dinner (or Sheepshead) table – you know, when the women were around.
Aside from the beer factory floor, Carl got his facts from fine publications like The National Inquirer, National Examiner and Daily Racing Form. I won’t go so far as to say Carl believed in alien abductions, but he did have a pet theory on why people were snatched mostly from trailer parks – something about hillbillies enjoying probes.
Carl, mostly, stopped talking to me when I started going on Civil Rights marches. I suppose it didn’t help when I began objecting to his more colorful terms for minorities. Yup, grew my hair long, started talking back and the jokes stopped. Funny how you can miss something you don’t want, but that’s a story for another time.
Carl had tabloid based theories on everything: Kennedy’s assignation – Castro, moon landing – ha, Elvis dead – don’t think so. Carl blamed Black and Jewish people for the ills in the world, his political views were faith-based and simple. Just like the Donald.
Yeah, I’m a little ashamed that it took one-hundred-seventy-five days of post-election racists innuendo, locker room talk and tabloid conspiracy theories to realize Trump is just another crazy old guy – like Carl.
While this realization provides some insight, it just begs solutions. My family dealt with Carl, mostly, by ignoring him. Sure, on rare occasion, the women would fight back; they’d call him on his bullshit, but he would just respond by escalating – perhaps commenting on their appearance or lack of desirability. Like the Donald.
I still consider one of my first steps towards adulthood (a state I still strive for) was the day I gave up arguing with Carl. It was after a particularly brutal Easter dinner. The conversation got so heated I walked out. I clearly recall getting into my car, wishing I’d brought a joint along, and thinking, “This will never go anywhere. He’ll always be racist; it’s how he thinks. I need to learn patience and let nature resolve this.”
And it did – sort of. Carl died back in ’96, and while his contribution to America’s imperfection died with him, his attitudes and feelings live on – in the Donald.
The republic still doesn’t understand how crazy uncle Donald got put in charge of anything. The notion that he is actually representative of America remains too unlikely to consider, but so is waiting around for him to kickoff.
In Peace and Justice,