The Amazing Adventures of Sara Corel
A novel by Toomey

Chapter Thirty-one: Politics

       It was a hot Houston summer evening on Washington Avenue, a neighborhood undergoing the trauma of 'gentrification'. The area had been decaying for a long time, cheap but once-proud post-war housing inhabited by elderly retirees and low-rent immigrants who were now being forced out by rising property taxes engendered by the intense building spate of upwardly-mobile new homes, townhouses and condominiums. The trendy and successful coexisted uneasily with their urban-poor neighbors and the hodgepodge of illegals and minorities who frequented the low-end shops and cantinas that hung on along the area's main drag.
       A low-rider boogiemobile left the avenue to penetrate one of the hipper, tree-lined areas near T.C. Jester where yuppies walked their dogs and jogged dutifully spreading that amazingly penetrating mindless bass-boom like an obnoxious challenge to the unwelcome newcomers in their expensive designer perspiration attire and running shoes. The gentry gritted their teeth and stoically endured the offense, hands hovering over their cell phones ready to summon the gendarmes should the intruder decide to prolong his incursion long enough to constitute a public nuisance.
       He did. The car stopped, perched precariously on the edge of the street alongside the drainage ditch. The noise from the massive speakers got even louder, rattling double-paned windows along the entire block. The residents glared at the vehicle's occupants, who responded with expressive hand gestures, colorful phrases and a tossed beer can or two.
       The cell phones speed-dialed. It would be a long time before any response showed up, and nothing substantive would be done. As far as the cops were concerned, this kind of thing was not worth abandoning a donut over. Eventually, they'd chase the car away, and eventually it (or another one like it) would be back. It was a game.
       Damned annoying, though. Frustrating to the new homeowners who had invested so much in their inside-the-Loop swankiendas, only to have their expensive peace and quiet trashed at the whim of distasteful punks who evidently got off on being rude. Or just plain didn't give a shit.
       A rock bounced off the side of the car. Another struck the roof. More followed in deliberate succession, hitting the trunk, the rear window, the driver's side door and the hood. Amidst serious cursing, four intentionally ugly-looking characters got out of the car to confront the pitcher.
       He was a middle-aged new resident, wearing navy Everlast joggers and white Etonics. Some of the others on the street knew him vaguely as a slightly eccentric writer of some kind who occupied a newly-minted garage-apartment studio in the area. Close enough he was one of them. Somewhat to their own surprise, they rallied protectively to his side, cellular calls taking on a new urgency as the threats from the low-riders escalated. The thrower was undeterred, launching new salvos that struck home, doing considerable damage to the gaudy paint job and cheap chrome decorations of the cruiser. He didn't stop until a cop showed up and arrested him.
       The punks filed charges. The tosser insisted on a jury trial, refused to hire an attorney and claimed that he was defending himself from an assault, citing the Biblical precedent of stoning bad actors. Several jury members themselves no strangers to the pounding assault of unavoidably noxious noise from other shitheads bought it and browbeat the rest of the panel into acquitting him.
       Predictably, minority activists claimed it was racism and raised a stink. The whole mess became a cause celebre in the media, with the cranky stoner achieving something of a celebrity stautus among admirers who were tired of anti-nuisance enforcement apathy and overjoyed that somebody had finally stood up to low-life creeps and gotten away with it.
      Soon after, a car sped down that same street in the early morning, tires screeching, shots from the driveby pouring into houses on both sides, injuring a dog. Consequently, other jukemobiles were stoned by newly-defiant gangs of angry homeowners who were energized by how good it felt and outraged by the threats of violence. In an impromptu show of force, bassers paraded slowly down Washington in ear-splitting protest, and when they got to jogger-infested Memorial Park, there was a massive stone-spewing confrontation. There were more arrests and more trials, but citizens who answered jury summons seemed to have had enough of the kind of irresponsible and offensive behavior that provoked rock-throwing reactions in the first place.
       One thing led to another, and it eventually caused a lot of national public focus on the whole concept of Political Correctness, an abomination that showed every sign of having finally run its course in the mainstream of society. A lot of people had had quite enough of the obviously stupid blather about the supposed moral equivalency of alternative 'cultures' in their midst that celebrated illiteracy, illegitimacy, irresponsibility, rudeness, hatred, substance abuse, self-mutilation, dependence, impiety, ugliness, body odor and tasteless clothing. They were damned tired of enforced 'diversity', of having to put up with a bunch of crap from low-grade morons. As much as anything, it had to do with the utter exhaustion of public tolerance for the obvious dregs of society exercising their unearned license to be agressively inconsiderate.
       Yeah, that's it. Just plain inconsiderate. A long-rising tide of inconsiderate behavior threatened social order, destroying the quality of life for the majority of people who had had a decent upbringing and expected to treat and be treated with common courtesy. Not only did inconsiderate behavior go unpunished, the perpetrators seemed to revel in it and nobody dared to protest for fear of offending the offenders' sensibilities.
       Well, fuck that. The obvious truth is that some so-called 'cultures' are inferior. It was time to say so.
       "I consider your unwelcome noise to be a deliberate assault turn it off or I'll defend myself from further assault by whatever means are necessary."
       "I've never owned a slave in my life and I've never met anyone who's been one so get over it."
       "What the hell is wrong with Teachers' Union teachers who can't teach fundamental citizenship?"
       "If things were so bad you had to leave your country, then don't bring it with you to my country."
       "People who purposely dress to offend are not welcome here."
       "That kind of behavior is offensive to my values."
       "How dare you throw trash on my street?"
       "Get up off of your ass and get a job."
       "Your 'rights' end at my nose."
       "I don't owe you anything."
       "Make yourself useful."
       "Learn something."
       "Speak English."
       "Act civilized."
       "Clean it up."
       "Get in line."
       "Go away."
       "Shut up."
       "Stop it."
       It wasn't racist. There was a traditional, mainstream culture in the heartland of America that had been abused, disrespected, laughed at, ripped-off, humiliated, scorned, ignored and made to feel guilty for achieving prosperity, for having children who excelled in school, for making things work, and for creating, defending and maintaining a damned fine nation despite rabid criticism of their philosophy, motivation, ancestry, politics, religion and way of life. You didn't have to be of European extraction to belong. There were plenty of people from ghettos who had found a way to become a part of the American melting pot, from Jews and Italians and Irish to Blacks and Hispanics and Asians and they were just as much a part of the new paradigm of resurgent pride as anyone whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower.
       The stoning incident may have been a spark, but the underlying resentment had been stewing for a long time, mostly on radio talk shows and the Internet, and around water coolers and bar stools. The ubiquitous PC censorship had kept it from spilling over because stating the obvious or telling the truth when it conflicted with the arrogant theories of social activists and sneering academics made the exercise of Constitutionally protected free speech a target for opportunistic lawsuits, bureaucratic harassment, media lynching and character assassination.
       Want a good example? How about the utterly forbidden topic of Arthur Jensen's heretical book, Bias In Mental Testing? According to one well-documented and scientifically rigorous study after another (carefully cited by the author), the only conclusion a truly unbiased observer can come to is that, for the most part, there isn't any. By golly, it turns out that there are some groups of people who, no matter how you slice it, do not test as well on standardized intelligence tests as others. That uncomfortable fact is unacceptable to the PC mafia so heaven help the unfortunate academician or commentator who publicly addressed such a thing with an open mind.
       Curiously, one of the contributing factors that may have made a lot of people start thinking about how they really felt probably had something to do with Susan. Her arrival in the public awareness created an unavoidable cultural shock, an effect as fundamentally disturbing to the inhabitants of this planet as the arrival of Cortes (and his alien technology horses and guns) was to the citizens of the Aztec Empire. No costume, guise or demeanor could hide the unwelcome fact that humans had been ousted from the center of the universe again and were suddenly backwards, trivial and probably unimportant compared to the powerful, mysterious creatures who had sent her.
       For the most part, people absolutely adored Sara. She was the new Princess of the news shows and tabloids, a cutie who did good deeds cheerfully and self-effacingly, cared about people and acted like the kind of kid everyone wished they had (instead of what they really had). In spite of what should be her essential disconnect with humanity, Sara was regarded as fitting in with the values and ideals of the dominant culture of her more-or-less adopted country, and people responded to that. This incredibly alien little girl acted like one of them. Well, why in the hell couldn't all these other outsiders in our midst overcome their own alienness their own maddening differentness and start behaving reasonably?
       Susan was another matter, and people made the distinction instinctually. Dammit, she Susan, not Sara was alien. Incomprehensibly alien. Frighteningly alien. Somehow, the videos of the White Sands demonstration were leaked, played over and over again on late-night cable and satellite stations to the accompanyment of ominous speculation. Unsettling rumors and paranoid delusions traveled the whisper circuit. Her reported seamless integration with the Internet was seen as as some kind of takeover, and her apparently near-omniscient awareness of the ether was viewed with alarm.
       Susan-the-robot was regarded as being indestructibly powerful, unstoppable and practically all-knowing, with unlimited capabilities and possessing vast powers of alien calculation. And all of this potential for good or ill was under the perhaps uncertain control of a darling little girl who was artificially manufactured by unknown entities for unknowable purposes. She could choose to be accountable to no human agency, law or govenment. There were a lot of people who wet their sheets just thinking about it.

       In this election year, the two major political parties appeared to be slightly bumfuzzled by the significance of the sudden reversal of the social pendulum going on around them.
       The Dem's knee-jerk reaction was to rally to the now-besieged minorities and fringes to whom they had traditionally pandered by cranking up the media PC legions, thereby driving a wedge between themselves and Mom'n'Pop America, who was tired of supporting and putting up with their whining demands. Their President, and his annointed successor, were indelibly tainted with just the sort of unacceptable behavior that was rapidly beginning to attain zero-tolerance status in the country at large. Liberalism was suddenly being unceremoniously hauled off to the dustbin of history.
       The GOP did not profit from this, being seen by their own grass-roots supporters as having lacked the will and courage to do the job they had contracted with the voters to do. Even though a type of conservative militancy was sweeping  the nation, many of the politicians who called themselves conservatives were found wanting and regarded as weak failures.
       In other words, there was suddenly an unexpectedly large chunk of the voting population that was looking for fresh leadership, for a strong voice that promised to empower them and give them permission to fight back against all those who had disrespected them. And, someone who would give them answers about how to deal with the unknown especially aliens.
       The issue of Susan became an object in the campaign. The left-of-center candidate portrayed her as being on their side, a caring and giving woman (oppressed minority) who would embrace social justice and equality, battle class enemies, and dole out all things to all people a sort of flying branch of do-gooding Big Government who could be relied upon to always save the day. They hadn't, of course, consulted her about it. As a matter of fact, the President reminded her quite a bit of the Wizard of Haughz.
       The formerly-right-of-center party (the center having marched past them) claimed Susan was really one of them, characterizing her as a dynamo of economic development, imagining Great Things being accomplished in partnership with her abilities. Why, she'd be able to take on the national debt, lower taxes, shrink the federal bureaucracy, support law-and-order initiatives, and defend our sacred shores. At least some of their leadership did consult her about their fantasies. She was polite and non-committal, thinking to herself all the while how much they reminded her of the Nazghoul.
       The alternative to all of the above was a new force in American politics. There had been third-party candidates before some, like Abe Lincoln, even successful. Mostly, these wannabees acted out the role of spoilers, splitting the majority and making it possible for opportunistic scalawags who should never have even been nominated for dog catcher to wind up getting blowjobs in the Oval Office.
       Maybe this time, it would be different. There was a new hat in the ring from a candidate who epitomized the luck or destiny of being in the right place at the right time, one who had all along loudly embodied all of the pride in traditional American values that was suddenly the new vogue. His policies transcended a mere chicken in every pot, seeming to promise a rebirth of the nation as an unashamedly rightful Colossus astride the whole world, justly administering a Pax Americana that would last a thousand years. He'd been a highly publicized crusader at the forefront of the battle against public enemies that even the feds wouldn't touch, his struggles on behalf of 'the people' portrayed autobiographically as a war against inconsiderate creeps of the larger variety as if he had been throwing rocks at limousines.
       The fact that he was a black man served only to allow his followers to pat themselves on the back and brag about being truly liberated from racism in their antipathy to undesirable elements. Besides, there were a whole lot of nuevo-conservative blacks and Hispanics who felt empowered to finally leave the liberal blok and vote for one of their own.
       But what really set the Black Knight apart from the rest of the field was in his regard of Susan.
       "It is obvious," he said, "that she is a powerful gift to our planet from her Cryptoalien masters. But she is an unwanted gift fraught with temptation. The test is in our embracing such a gift, lest our greed for what she can do for us leads to dependence on alien designs. We must choose to manage our own affairs and return this gift, with thanks, to those from whence it came."
       Well, that's what a lot of folks wanted to hear. 'Aliens go home'.
       Sara couldn't help but be reminded of Soraun. For one thing, she knew he was a phoney with a hidden agenda. So did a lot of other people, but they were being shouted down by an increasing number of brownshirts who believed what they wanted to believe and were gaining the momentum of a popular movement based on the tendency of a suddenly released volk righteousness to embrace authoritarianism.
       The White Sands videos, the whisper campaigns, the strident public pronouncements all directed against Susan were being promoted by one central propaganda machine (Team Blue) so as to create a single entity that could serve as a scapegoat for all those who were frightened or envious of the alien menace. Sara who was beginning to feel like she was back in Muria naively spoke out against this bogus conspiracy, and thus validated too many suspicions.
       A coalition of the righteously indignant, conspiracy paranoids, nationalistic jingoists, the politically fed-up, contrarians, soccer moms, religious rightists, neo-fascists, reactionaries, protectionists, fools and idiots narrowly elected Bruce Wayans President of the United States.

Chapter Thirty-two: Death

Table of Contents

Patrick Hill, 2000