"Make America Be Great America Again":
A Donald Trump Pastiche on Langston Hughes's great poem.
In this version, Trump rewrites the first few stanzas, then begins inserting his own language in capitals.
Make America be America again.
Make it be the tremendous business model it used to be.
Make it be the deal-maker on the plane
Seeking a deal where he himself owns the plane.
(America still isn’t America enough for me.)
Make America be the dream I’m going to tell you about —
It’s a strong dream, a great dream, you will love it,
Believe me, you will feel like a king,
And there will no room at the inn for losers.
(It isn’t America enough for me yet.)
O, make my land be a land where Liberty
Doesn’t have to listen to embarrassing, incompetent so-called leaders,
Or anyone, really, and opportunity is real, and life is free,
Or not free, but let me tell you, you get what you pay for.
(There’s never been a price or subsidy big enough for me,
And, can you believe, it some people still want stuff for free?)
[Switch to Hughes's original in lower case, Trump interjections in caps.]
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
(I MEAN, NOT LITERALLY, BUT THE NEGROES LOVE ME, YOU KNOW. THEY LET THEIR FRIENDS CALL THEM THAT.)
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
THAT’S RIGHT, SUCKER.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!
NOW WE’RE GETTING SOMEWHERE.
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
AND I’VE GOT YOUR BACK, AND WE ARE GOING TO GET OURS.
I MEAN, WE ARE GOING TO RIP THEM.
Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
(ACTUALLY, WE WERE NEVER SERFS.
I COME FROM A VERY SUPERIOR FAMILY, VERY HIGH-TALENTED,
PROBABLY KINGS, OR MADE SOME GREAT DEALS WITH KINGS.)
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
BUILDING STUFF, THAT’S RIGHT.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”
I’VE ALREADY SAID, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
I’M STARTING TO FEEL A LITTLE CONFUSED.
THAT DREAM ISN’T EVEN SLEEPING.
WE ARE GOING TO MOW THEM DOWN.
WE ARE GOING TO WIN SO MUCH,
YOU WILL WANT TO LIE DOWN BESIDE THE DREAM AND TAKE A NAP.
BUT I WON’T LET YOU. I’LL KICK YOU AND SAY
O, MAKE America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s (CASINOS! NOW I GET IT.
THEY ARE ACTUALLY VERY GOOD BUSINESSPEOPLE, VERY SAVVY. LET ME JUST
SAY, I KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT CASINOS. Negro’s, ME— [capitalized in
THAT’S RIGHT, ME. LANGSTON HUGHES HAD THAT RIGHT.
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
PRETTY FANCY, THERE, A LITTLE TOO FANCY FOR ME.
I AM VERY CLASSY BUT NOT FANCY, YOU KNOW, NOT LIKE THOSE BOYS.
BUT A MIGHTY DREAM IS RIGHT,
A DREAM THAT WE WON’T EVEN LET SLEEP, IT IS SO MIGHTY,
AND HAS WINNING TO DO.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
ISN’T THAT WHAT I’VE BEEN SAYING?
I say it plain,
America never was America ENOUGH FOR me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
AND WE KNOW WHO WE’RE TALKING ABOUT, DON’T WE?
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
THAT’S RIGHT, THEY CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
AND I KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT THAT,
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
AND WHAT’S THE COLOR OF MONEY, FRIENDS, WHAT’S THE COLOR OF MONEY?
And make America GREAT again!
Saturday, April 9, 2016
1. LQBTQ & LABOR: HB 2 may be the most objectively radicalizing thing the North Carolina legislature has done. By explicitly tying together anti-labor provisions forbidding local governments to set minimum wages or working conditions, it strikes at the Fight for Fifteen movement and other living wage campaigns in the same gesture as its attack on LGBTQ people. The commonality of the many groups and agendas at North Carolina’s progressive Moral Mondays rallies – from the NAACP to the states’ scant unions to queer folk to immigrants and environmentalists – has always struck me as moving but also somewhat thin and aspirational. With this law, the NC Legislature explicitly names the progressive movements around both labor and sexuality as a common enemy, which is to say, as objective allies.
2. UNCONSTITUTIONAL: HB 2 is very probably unconstitutional by plain-vanilla doctrinal analysis. Supreme Court decisions in 1996, 2003, 2013, and 2015 have established a principle that laws aimed at picking out and burdening a particular identity group – especially sexual minorities – are invalid, basically because dislike is not a legitimate motive for lawmaking. These are the most humane and admirable opinions the Court has issued in the last two decades.
3. SPELLINGS & UNC: Because the law is probably unconstitutional, and because its unconstitutionality is rooted in its picking out – and picking on – a group of North Carolinians that includes many students – it would have been appropriate and admirable for Margaret Spellings, the head of the UNC system, to direct her campuses to disregard it. The decision would have exercised the schools’ responsibilities as champions and in loco parentis of their students and as bastions of independent thought about questions of public principle.
4. FEAR AND DISGUST: HB 2 shows that the oldest hateful motive – sexual fear – is still very much in play. The bid to suggest that “women and children” need to be “safe” in bathrooms picks up directly on demagogic warnings about molestation (gay teachers and scoutmasters), rape by black men, and interracial marriage. (In “Birth of a Nation,” the 1915 cinematic valentine to the Ku Klux Klan, one of the radicals holds up a sign reading “Equal Marriage.”) Bigotry mingles disgust and fear, and these images of intimate assault seem to be the trigger. It’s awful, but let’s hope it’s also a sign that the resistance is driven back to its dregs.
5. BOYCOTTS AND BANKS: The boycotts are great, and they show that, while LQBTQ people are distinctively vulnerable in a bunch of very important ways, they also have a special level of political support right now. (Of course these two are linked: the acute vulnerability makes the call to boycott stronger.) As far as possible, it’s important to take the corporate boycotts, in particular, as merely tactical alliances. Paypal and the big banks would not be boycotting over the attack on Fight for Fifteen, and they won’t be here – or they’ll on the other side – for many progressive issues. So welcome them, but know that they’re in it partly for the moral and political credibility, and give them back what they’ve earned from you and no more.
Forward together. Let this be one of the last steps back.