I recently received an emailed prescription for turning America around. It clams to have been authored by frequently insightful and always outspoken comedian Bill Cosby. But further research reveals that Cosby did not write it. Other emails attribute it to late comedian George Carlin, who also did not write it.
The list fascinates me because it represents a bundle of mob-mentality notions. It masquerades as good ‘ol American common sense, but manages to ignore much of what America has stood for over generations. It also reminds us of the many ways the Internet has replaced the corner tavern, the beauty parlor, and the barber shop as the spreader of gossip and often narrow-minded, middle-America angst. The lynch mobs and misguided coups of the future will not assemble on the streets, but on the Internet, fed by intellectual perversion like this.
Here are the Fake Cosby’s bullet points for a better America, followed by The Contrarian’s rebuttal.
The False Cosby: “’Press 1 for English,’ is immediately banned. English is the official language; speak it or wait at the border until you can.”
The Contrarian: So we're going to demand more of modern immigrants than was expected of our own ancestors? Many of our adult immigrant ancestors spoke their native tongue coupled with broken English until their deaths. Often only their children learned English and in many ethnic neighborhoods (in the good 'ol days) streets signs and businesses often used the local ethnic language. How quickly we forget.
#2 & #3
The False Cosby: 2-“We will immediately go into a two year isolationist posture to straighten out the country's attitude. NO imports, no exports. We will use the Wal-Mart policy, 'If we ain't got it, you don't need it.'” 3-“When imports are allowed, there will be a 100% import tax on it.”
The Contrarian: The world economy has been destroyed time and again by isolationism. And the behind-the-scenes Wal-Mart corporate policy is one that aggressively and systematically lures American manufacturers to China. Impose the False Cosby approach and Wal-Mart’s shelves would be empty, just like the logic behind point #2 & #3.
The False Cosby: “All retired military personnel will be required to man one of our many observation towers on the southern border (six month tour). They will be under strict orders not to fire on SOUTHBOUND aliens.”
The Contrarian: So we’re gonna start shooting north bound boarder crossers? Sounds like the East Germans at the Berlin Wall during the Cold War.
The False Cosby: “Social security will immediately return to its original state. If you didn't put nuttin in, you ain't getting nuttin out. The president nor any other politician will be able to touch it.”
The Contrarian: So we're going to start putting elderly people out in the streets when their money runs out? Housewives who raised children instead of working in factories and children whose parents have died will no longer get benefits? Whose values does that reflect? Attila the Hun? Marie Antoinette? Kim Jong il’? How about a little WWJD?
The False Cosby: “Welfare - Checks will be handed out on Fridays at the end of the 40-hour school week and the successful completion of urinalysis and a passing grade.”
The Contrarian: Okay, the False Cosby is pretty close to right on that one. I would also throw in long-term, systematic corporate welfare, like that our corporate farmers have been enjoying for decades. If you’re mad about the GM bailout, better stop eating American farm produce. It’s been socialized for decades.
The False Cosby: “Professional Athletes--Steroids. The FIRST time you check positive you're banned for life.”
The Contrarian: Okay, that’s 2 for the False Cosby.
The False Cosby: “Crime - We will adopt the Turkish method. The first time you steal, you lose your right hand. There are no more life sentences. If convicted of murder, you will be put to death by the same method you chose for your victim; gun, knife, strangulation, etc.”
The Contrarian: Turkey is our model? P-lease. Did the False Cosby ever go to church or read the Constitution? First, we don't inflict cruel and unusual punishment, not because we're weak on crime, but because we're better than the criminals and we're trying to build a culture in which elevated morals are embraced, not mocked. I'm with Martin Luther King: "An eye for an eye leave everybody blind."
The False Cosby: “One export will be allowed, Wheat. The world needs to eat. A bushel of wheat will be the exact price of a barrel of oil.”
The Contrarian: Sounds good at first, but equating oil with food reveals how sick our love of cars truly is. Contrary to American cultural norms, the right to eat and the right to drive an urban assault vehicle are not equal.
The False Cosby: “All foreign aid using American taxpayer money will immediately cease, and the saved money will pay off the national debt and ultimately lower taxes. When disasters occur around the world, we'll ask the American people if they want to donate to a disaster fund, and each citizen can make the decision whether it's a worthy cause.”
The Contrarian: Think the world hates us now? Do this and find out what it's like to sit entirely alone: hated and looked down upon rather than admired and emulated. To the nations whose democracy was nurtured or protected by our aid – “Hey guys, you’re on your own! All that business about us being a beacon of hope for the world? Well, we’re really not in that business anymore. I mean, come on. We’re already letting the elderly starve (#5) and shooting immigrants at the border (#4). You think we care about you?”
#11 & #12
The False Cosby: 11-“The Pledge of Allegiance will be said every day at school and every day in Congress, and 12-The National Anthem will be played at all appropriate ceremonies, sporting events, outings, etc.”
The Contrarian: I thought it was only communist Russia, China, Cuba, and North Korea that demanded obedience. You'd have to ignore a lot of what America has stood for (and our soldiers have died for) over the past 230+ years to force people to follow this medieval list and then also say the pledge.
The list ends with this salutation:
“Sorry if I stepped on anyone's toes. GOD BLESS AMERICA.”
The only toes the False Cosby stepped on are those who have read and understand the Constitution, those who have at least a rudimentary understanding of foreign policy, and those who put their religious faith into practice. The fake Cosby platform is an attack on reason, and a beckonning call to mob logic. It’s a reminder that the Internet, for all its technological brilliance, it’s also a chalkboard for nuts, extremists and axe-grinders.
Oh, and I almost forgot: Send this to everyone you know who loves America!