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Assassination history

February 1st, 2003

Column: Don’t Ask


Dear Don’t Ask:
I just heard it again, some complaining tubby saying that overweight people are the last OK-to-ridicule minority. Come on! What say you?

It’s a fallacy as large as those espousing it.

Look around you, big folks. Check out the fellow with the inch-thick glasses, or the bald guy, or the woman with the Deep South accent. Spend a few days with a really short person. Try facing the world with severe acne, buck teeth, facial scars, a massive nose or huge lips. Trade places with the profoundly shy, the physically clumsy, the tobacco addicted and tone deaf and dyslexic and mentally slow. Walk a mile in the moccasins of the tattooed, the stuttering, the men who never develop facial hair, the women with microscopic mammaries. Yes, fat people get called names, and yes, it’s tough. But they’re not the last anything — torment and exclusion are available to everyone! You think it’s year-round open season on fatties? Well, dozens of “minorities” spin on that carousel every day.Disease, deficit, lifestyle choice, low IQ, low income, addiction — makes no never mind, all persuasions are welcome. Even lower primates deride the different. And at least fatness is epidemic, so the “plus sized” have camaraderie, activism, research and celebrity empathizers. In fact, they’re no longer even a minority in the United States, so they blend right in. It’s thin people who will soon need attorneys and advocates.

I say to the size-challenged: try being, for even a day, a person of color. Better yet, try being a person of color who is overweight. And in a wheelchair. And bald. And from Georgia.

Yes, yes, we enlightened types condemn insensitive, belittling clods, discrimination, cruel judgmentalism. But I reject utterly one particular sub-group: the one that erects for itself a martyrdom pedestal on which is engraved “Last Unprotected Minority.”

Dear D.A.
I got to thinking about political assassinations. I’m wondering what percentage of the time political figures are killed by someone from the same “side.” Gandhi, for instance, was assassinated by someone who didn’t think he was doing enough to get rid of the British in India. Yitzak Rabin was been killed by an Israeli who felt he was betraying Israel’s prime interests. But American assassinations from the 1960s (Kennedy, King, Kennedy) do not fit that pattern.

I think it’s axiomatic to say that if someone kills you he was not on your side.

But let’s take a walking tour through assassination history, just for fun! Julius Caesar was killed by conspirators who didn’t want him to become king. Emiliano Zapata was snuffed by a hit man acting for the government. Leon Trotsky was taken out (oh, that ice axe in the head!) by a mama’s boy whose mater was in bed with a Soviet general. James Ray, convicted of killing the Rev. King, always said he didn’t do it, and the evidence that other people were involved is compelling; we can assume they were not MLK groupies. Another King, Faisal, was wasted by his own nephew, purportedly in revenge; but politics pertained: the kid also wanted a more liberal, westernized rule. Anwar Sadat succumbed to bullets from Islam fundamentalists in his own army.

As for the Gandhis, all three (Indira, Rajiv, Mohandas) were murdered by people who didn’t like the stands they were taking (although Rajiv’s killer didn’t talk, being in fragments after the explosion), but you’re wrong about the Mohandas hit; yes, he was killed by a fellow Hindu, but the guy opposed Hindu-Muslim brotherhood. The British? Who cared?

And the Kennedys. Well. Sirhan’s motives have never been clear, nor have his connections. A woman who was with him in the hotel that night and who shouted “We shot Kennedy!” turned up dead a couple of days later. As for Oswald, double well. Let’s say that he acted alone. If so, he was exactly like Rabin’s killer. An American who shot his leader. Of course, we’re not sure why. Could have been political, could have been the result of hallucinations or bribery; could have been he was bugged because his wife thought JFK was so cute (don’t laugh, this is an actual theory).

Lincoln’s assassin definitely disliked his politics (Booth took special delight in portraying Brutus on stage, improvising “Sic semper tyrannis!” as he thrust his dagger), and the horde who murdered Malcolm X had similar “Kill it before it grows” motives. But what interests me is that assailants who target politicians for political reasons are apparently much more effective than people who simply want fame. The notoriety seekers either miss entirely or simply wound. John Hinckley. Squeaky Fromme. Sara Jane Moore. Arthur Bremer. As Jesse Jackson might say, “Those who court fame should take better aim.”

All-Knowing D.A.
Is it possible for someone to swing, on a playground swing, completely around, i.e., 360 degrees?

If that someone is a typical adult and that swing is a typical playground swing and no one is pushing, the answer is no. But if the swinger is light, the pusher is very strong and tall and fast, and especially if the swing’s chains or ropes are shorter than usual, the answer is yes. Think of swinging a yo-yo in a vertical circle. You have to get and keep lots of momentum, but you can do it. Promise me you won’t try this with a small helpless animal. Use a bobble-head George Bush doll. Be sure there’s a big mud puddle underneath. And don’t strap the doll in. •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Browning, Don't Ask | Link to this Entry


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