Due to a recent medical confinement, with its concomitant desire for an out-of-body experience while the body healed, my galpal and I learned the pleasures of binge TV. “The Wire,” “Downton Abbey” and “Homeland.” We followed Tammy Taylor from “Friday Night Lights” to “Nashville.” We hate-watched a quarter season of “Game of Thrones.” With recovery, we have gone our separate watching ways: she to “Sons of Anarchy” because football season is over, me to “Revenge,” so I’ll never actually have to go to the Hamptons.
I hope psychologists somewhere are studying the aberrations of the serial mind. When we were on “The Wire,” I noticed myself talking to my galpal like Omar, “You feel me?” During “Downton,” I became quite resentful that I had to dress and feed myself. The Emily/Amanda pleasures and perils of “Revenge” made me a meaner UNO player.
But then came the 10th anniversary of the pre-emptive “Shock and Awe” invasion of Iraq and the beginning of the end for thousands of Iraqi civilians, American soldiers, Saddam Hussein, electricity, water, trees, birds, truth, hope and on and on. I have never felt so seethingly vengeful.
For as sectarian violence continues to wrack Iraq and our soldiers come home crippled by war to an overwhelmed, unresponsive Bureau of Veterans Affairs, George Bush is narcissistically painting nude pictures of himself, living in assisted living in Dallas, and riding his bike. The shovel-ready Dick Cheney, whose healthcare we all envy, is unrepentant and no doubt happy that his Halliburton made $39.5 billion on the Iraq war. Don Rumsfeld is enjoying crab cakes by the Chesapeake Bay. Like Emily/Amanda I feel I should dedicate myself to bringing George Bush and his craven cohort to justice.
From his first term, President Obama said that he did not want to look backward, only forward. Granted, his administration was busy with a fiscal crisis caused by financialized mortgage shenanigans, decreased tax revenue and an off-the-books war. But looking forward leaves unexamined and uninvestigated a bogus war, lies, torture, rendition and corruption. Such willful amnesia leads to moral drift, targeted assassinations and the normalization of drones.
But revenge is so Old Testament. Even Emily/Amanda has learned its pitfalls. Revenge brings more of the same or worse. Ten years ago Bush II was avenging his father’s wimpy retreat in the first Iraq war. I wish father and son had just gone to family therapy.
Mind you I am nowhere near forgiveness. Instead of putting Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld etc. in orange onesies in lockdown, now I think they should be forced to watch, for the rest of their born days, a continuous loop of Rachel Maddow’s excellent special, “Hubris,” about the lead-up to the war. It’s “Sons of Anarchy,” the reality show.
In these heady, incredible days of shifting public attitudes toward LGBT rights and perhaps positive Supreme Court rulings, we LGBTs cannot forget what we learned. After years of being denied then dismissed, our progress toward equality, came not through revenge but through activism. Simply put, we came out of the closet.
Stopping the next iteration of the war machine can come only when we come out of the peace closet and speak out against bullying drones, omnipresent surveillance, and the weaponization of equality. Otherwise, it’s an endless loop of “Game of Thrones.”
Kate Clinton is a humorist who has entertained LGBT audiences for 30 years. Her monthly column appears exclusively in the Blade. Reach her via kateclinton.com.