Monday, February 28, 2022
I want to talk about this idea of an evil Don Quixote. I’d like to call the idea that of the black Don Quixote, but that might be confused as a black man, and I don’t mean it in that way. I also don’t want it misunderstood. I therefore must find a better name to tag this idea. How about The Evil Don Quixote? Yes, that will do.
Don Quixote was, as Cervantes wrote and Man of La Mancha portrayed him, an old man befuddled by the world who saw things that weren’t there and imagined he was on a noble quest, a Spanish Mr. Magoo.
In Man of La Mancha there is that song that talks about being willing to fight and die for the noble cause.
But what if the cause is not noble? What if Don Q has been mislead? What if in fact he is aiding an evil man or cynical criminal enterprise, what then?
It’s an intriguing question, I think, and one that is confronting us now. Of course, this is nothing new. Just as there are no new vices, there are no new evil political social movements. Only the names, titles, and faces change. As Joseph Campbell pointed out in The Masks of God, the name may change, but it’s the same old idea of god. On the other side of that coin is the more sinister anti-god, evil ideas cast as idealistic, conspiracies where there are none. In this anti-world people are made to be less than human so that one can think it is okay to abuse them.
By stoking fears and suggesting that some race, religion, or group is out to get: you, us, our nation – one can move a lot of people to act irrationally.
We are now seeing the result of that when these same people have to face their reality or choose between on of two “ideals.”
Ayn Rand liked to write, over and over again, “check your assumptions, one of them is wrong.” Ta-dah.
I have been reading a John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee novel “A Deadly Shade of Gold.” Somehow this one eluded my earlier searchings. MacDonald died in 1986. This novel is copyrighted 1965. Perhaps, he wrote it in ’64? What is interesting about MacDonald’s writing is how he so elegantly skewers Florida politics, land development and the national political scene. Here is a passage from page 325:
“Doctor Gordon Face, and his American Crusade. Oh, it’s very big lately. Lectures and tent shows and local television and so on. And special phone numbers to call anytime of day or night. The liberal-socialist-commy conspiracy that is gutting all the old time values. It has a kind of phonied-up religious fervor about it. And it is about ten degrees to the right of the Birchers. The president is selling the country down the river with the help of The Supreme Court. Agree with us or you are marked traitor. You know the sort of thing, all that tiresome pea-brained nonsense that attracts those people who are so dim-witted that the only way they can understand the world is to believe that it is all some kind of conspiracy. The most amusing thing about it is the way Dr. Face keeps plugging for virtue and morality. He wants to burn everything since Tom Swift, and he is not too certain about Tom. He wants a big crackdown on movies, books, plays, song lyrics, public dancing. And he wants to be the one to weed out the evil. …”
That was 1964 – ’65.