Monday, October 16, 2006

How the Pilgrims Liberated America - Part One

(An Evangelical Election-Year Sunday School Sermon)

Guest Post by Mark W. Bradley

Four centuries ago on a Sunday, a bunch of George Bush’s Pilgrim ancestors were huddled together inside a London House of Worship, praying to their Heavenly Father for spiritual guidance, and celebrating their Freedom of Religion by burning an elderly woman at the stake. Suddenly, as if by magic (or rather divine intervention), a water-soaked Indian appeared in the doorway of their church.

“Get thee inside,” said the startled Pilgrims. “Thou art wet and weary."

"Me pretty well shagged," said the Indian, as a puddle formed beneath him on the hardwood floor. "But got-um heap-big news for Great White Father. Him crap his short pants when he hear."

"Truly, this Naked Savage hath crossed the Mighty Ocean," declared the Pilgrim Minister. "Even now, in His Great Mercy, the Lord hath delivered him up out of the Windswept Waters with His Sheltering Hand and deposited him here in Our Humble Midst!"

"Actually, me spend last twenty years in plenty-bad boarding house upstream in Putney. Me go down to Big Stinky River to scrape ratshit off moccasin and fall in. Me wash up here."

"Behold, a miracle!" cried the Pilgrims, and they took him to see the king.

When the Pilgrims and their Magic Indian arrived at Hampton Court, King James I was busy writing an over-friendly letter to his purely platonic friend, the buff and manly Duke of Buckingham, whom the king had put in charge of arranging Royal Camping Trips for marginally underage pageboys.

After arising from their abject genuflections, the Pilgrims addressed the king as follows:

“Your Majesty, we, thy humble supplicants, would like to begin by offering thee our sincere and heartfelt thanks for the democracy thou hast seen fit to bestow upon us (which we promise not to over-use), and it is our fondest hope that thou wilt consent to allow us to spread the blessings of said democracy across the oceans where it is most needed (assuming that is okay with thee). If thou should deign, in thy immense wisdom and infinite mercy, to agree to our tentative plan (of course, we can always change the plan, or omit parts of it, or maybe even drop the whole thing if it fails in any way to meet thy specifications, so please don’t feel we’re putting any pressure on thee here), we would be ever so grateful for thy support (really, we would).

“Now we don’t mean to digress here, Your Highness, but we’ve taken the liberty of preparing for thee a sort of ‘informational packet’ we think goes a long way toward putting the current crisis in some kind of historical context...”

“Thay what thou hatht to thay, and make it thnappy,” lithped the Thtuart thovereign, in all his thplender.

“Of course, Your Majesty, begging thy Royal pardon,” resumed the Pilgrim minister, “the thing is, this still-damp Indian, known to his people as ‘Sha-lah-be’ (or ‘the Great Lyre’ for his ability to bring forth sweet songs of truth) has swum his way across the Atlantic to bring thy attention to a Mortal Danger that threatens our safety and indeed the safety of all God-fearing Christians. We beseech thee to hear his Wondrous Words of Warning.”

“Thpeak, thou thtudly thavage,” thaid the king.

The now only slightly-moist Indian unfolded his tale without the barest hint of artifice:

“Sha-lah-be almost drown in Big Stinky River. Dream he rise up into sky and meet Great Spirit. Spirit show Sha-lah-be plenty-bad vision of Devil-king who make strong fire in land across Big Water. Tell Sha-lah-be he make heap-big wampum if he warn Pale-face King about strong fire. Maybe Pale-face King kick Devil-king’s ass and make Sha-lah-be Big Chief.”

The king was exceedingly alarmed by Sha-lah-be’s vision (but spiritually aroused by the skimpiness of his loincloth), and quickly summoned his Chancellor, Sir Richard of Balderdash. Sir Richard had only just returned from an inspection tour of his capital assets, including a worm-eaten, barnacle-encrusted death-hulk in Plymouth Harbor known as the “Mayflower" (a gift from one of his many associates in the private sector, a trenchcoat-wearing Hebrew pirate by the name of “Jack”), a recently-acquired non-profit, faith-based Christian blunderbuss factory in Brixton, and an out-of-the-way, rat-infested boarding house in Putney.

Sir Richard began slowly, as if taking those present into his confidence:

“Your Highness, I believe it’s imperative we take this threat seriously. The ‘Strong Fire’ this noble (but clearly sub-human) savage speaks of may be a new Super Weapon referred to in Catholic Confessional Chatter (which some of our agents have accidentally overheard) as the “Pope’s Pincushion.” I think it’s been pretty well proven that these Wampanoag Indian terrorists were originally trained and equipped by Guy Fawkes, the Papisto-fascist heretic (whatever that means) who tried to assassinate Your Majesty several years ago.

“Significantly, the Wampanoag ‘Devil-king’ Massasoit himself is rumored to have tested this weapon on his own people, and we have reason to think he’s planning to unleash it against us next, perhaps as early as next spring.

“As you may remember, Your Majesty, Massasoit (or as his own terrorized people refer to him ‘The Cannibal of Cape Cod’) has been stock-piling thousands of arrows in secret mobile wigwam laboratories (whatever that means) scattered around the (soon-to-be-christened) New England countryside. He, of course, claims the arrows are needed for “hunting”, but inasmuch as he continues to amass large quantities of turkey-dung in which to dip those arrows, we think he may already have developed biological weapons capability (whatever that is). Even more alarmingly, reliable sources tell us that Massasoit's medicine-men have been working round-the-clock to test and deploy a series of five-story-tall mega-bows, each one capable of firing thousands of independently-targeted, heat-seeking arrows (whatever they are) across the Atlantic at a single thrust.

“Now there’s little doubt that in the coming days we’re going to hear a lot of left-wing, limited-monarchist types say we ought to wait for more evidence before we act. But the real question is, Your Highness, can we afford to put the kingdom's security at risk? What if the smoking blunderbuss comes in the form of a mushroom-cloud of pulverized poultry poop?”

The king needed no further convincing, and immediately ordered Balderdash to plan and launch a preemptive strike aimed at taking out Massasoit of Massachusetts’s Messy Bunghole Bomb of Mass Destruction. Needless to say, Sir Richard’s masterful plan for a cost-effective, pinpoint surgical invasion of an entire continent was built around the person of his erstwhile boarding-house tenant, Sha-lah-be, and supported by a pre-arranged no-bid contract for two-hundred blunderbusses, a hundred-and-fifty suits of fourteen-ply rat-skin body armor, and virtually unlimited travel miles aboard the Good Ship “Mayflower”, courtesy of “Captain Jack” (who, curiously enough, had a long history of taking Evangelicals and Indians for a ride)....

(to be continued)

Mark W. Bradley is a schoolteacher and political satirist in Sacramento, California. He can be contacted at:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me pretty well shagged," said the Indian, as a puddle formed beneath him on the hardwood floor. "But got-um heap-big news for Great White Father. Him crap his short pants when he hear."

There is a fine line between "satire" and just plain goddamed offensive and this POLE-VAULTED over the line. I cannot even BEGIN to tell you how disappointed I am to see racist crap like this on a blog I normally enjoy. Let me be absolutely clear: Little Red Sambo jokes are NOT cute and you are NOT clever or "edgy" for using them. My children and my ancestors are not clipart for you to mock in order to make a political point. What's up for Part Two? Jokes about smallpox, the Trail of Tears or Wounded Knee? Thanks for reminding me that "liberals" can be just as racist as any immigrant-bashing, homophobic Right-Winger.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous mark w bradley said...

Dear local crank:

I cannot tell you how deeply appalled I am that my attempt to lampoon the kind of racist stereotypes I was exposed to in both Elementary School and Sunday School back in the fifties so completely missed the mark. I had thought that sub-titling the piece an "Evangelical Sunday School Sermon" would make it abundantly clear that the persona of the "author" was a person diametrically opposed to my actual point of view. I regret my inability to have made that irony clearer. I obviously failed disastrously in my intent. It is the greatest risk a satirist runs in his work, and sometimes the risk results in unintended offense.

If you could find it in your heart to google a piece I wrote two years ago entitled "Adventures in American Theocracy - The Pequot Wars", you would read a true reflection of my thoughts on the clash of cultures in 17th Century New England. If you were to do that, I think you would find I am not the racist you imagine me to be.

Again, I am very sorry my lack of satirical skill resulted in such an offensive outcome. Please accept my apology, and I beg you not to hold the Liberal Girl Next Door in any way responsible for my literary clumsiness.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for responding and apology accepted. I didn't think you were a racist and I got that you meant it sarcastically, I just don't think that kind of humor is appropriate even to make an ironic point. I'd feel the same way if it was a black character talking like steppinfetchit or a Hispanic character talking like Jose Jiminez, but obviously this is a little personal for me.

6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Thay what thou hatht to thay, and make it thnappy,” lithped the Thtuart thovereign, in all his thplender."

So, you don't like queers either. And you call yourself a liberal. SHAME ON YOU!!!

8:29 AM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Don't worry Dad, I think most of us got the point! Your satirical skills are quite intact and I'm not at all concerned that anyone will hold me responsible. If they do, I really don't care and neither should you.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't holding the Girl Next Door responsible, though looking back at my first post it seems like I was calling Mark a racist, which wasn't my intent. I try not to label people (as opposed to writings or art) as racist without much more evidence than one post. But, again, just to be clear, I got the joke. I understood the satire, but the language used is just as ugly, offensive and hurtful regardless of the motivations of the person writing it. Frankly, I likely wouldn't have been bothered at all if an NDN had written the post, as is; that's a double standard, of course, like African-Americans using the "N" word, but hardly surprising given the tangled, touchy nature of race relations in America. I also wouldn't censor anyone, of course (I maintain that the First Amendment GUARANTEES that we will all be offended and likely on a daily basis), but you should be aware that your point may be lost for many people who can't get past the use of such nasty stereotypes, irrespective of why you used them.

10:16 AM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Local Crank--I get your point as well and think you've done a great job explaining the nuances of your position and your reaction to this post. All I can do, like my father has done, is apologize for any offense I may have caused, and respect your position. On both counts, I do.

As you correctly point out, race relations in this country are "touchy and tangled". The more conversations we all have about it, the better. Thank you for starting one here, I honestly appreciate it.

11:44 AM  

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