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Jesse Helms and the Theater of the Depraved

On July 8, the resplendently Caucasian, flag-loving, fag-hating, five-term Senator Jesse Helms exited the political scene, stage right, to begin his long-awaited dirt nap.  All the world being a stage, a host of players, including Dick Cheney and John and Cindy McCain, assembled sorrowfully near the starred-and-striped coffin containing the body of the hidebound conservative who never changed, never apologized.  Seeming to take his cue from absurdist theater, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell eulogized Jesse Helms as one of the “kindest” men in Congress.  No matter who you were, intoned McConnell, “he always had a kind word and a gentle smile.”

Strangely, there was nothing in McConnell’s script about the time Jesse Helms, in an elevator with fellow senators — including Carole Moseley-Braun just after she’d spoken in the Senate, denouncing slavery and the Confederate flag — turned to his friend Orin Hatch and said, “I’m going to sing ‘Dixie’ until she cries.”  Or the times he called civil rights activists “Communists and sex perverts,” and accused “Negroes and whites” on a march from Selma to Montgomery of participating in “sex orgies of the rawest sort.”  Or when he described gay men and lesbians as “weak, morally sick wretches” who engage in “offensive and revolting conduct.”

Then there is Jesse’s deeply kind Senate record.  FOR: tobacco companies.  AGAINST: the Civil Rights Act; school desegregation; affirmative action; sanctions against Apartheid South Africa; commemorating the birthday of Martin Luther King; HIV-positive people entering the country; funding for “indecent” art; funding for AIDS research. . . .

Verily, Jesse Helms’s brand of kindness makes Jesus look like a commie fag.  That is why we — the Theater of Morally Sick Negro and White Wretched Communist Perverts — wish to salute Jesse Helms in a powerful piece of government-funded, rightwing performance art!  Since most of us can’t remember our lines, we’ve decided to rip off Marcel Marceau‘s loveable little character, “Bip,” and present this play in pantomime.  Observe.

Act I

A lonely horizon in liberal America.  Bleak.  Desolate.  Depraved.  Enter Bleep, the sad, heterosexual mime.  A teardrop glistens on Bleep’s whitened face; the ends of Bleep’s mouth dip downward; even the stripes on Bleep’s little shirt droop dejectedly.  Bleep suffers because the world is full of MORALLY SICK NEGRO AND WHITE WRETCHED COMMUNIST PERVERTS.  (Since this is one of those cutting-edge, didactic opuses, disgusting slides of lunch-counter sit-ins, ACT-UP demonstrations, women’s peace groups, Nelson Mandela walking out of prison, etc., are flashed onto a scrim, so we can see what the real problem is.)

Bleep dejectedly whistles “Dixie” as he mimes packing his wee lunch, picking up his briefcase, and setting off for work.  Pressing a make-believe button, he steps unsuspectingly into an invisible elevator.  Suddenly, horrible rap music blares, as Satan — played by Carol Moseley-Braun — enters and pantomimes slapping Bleep silly.  She tries to strangle Bleep with a kente cloth, then dances luridly away, inadvertently dropping her handbag.

Alone in the elevator, Bleep kneels in prayer.  He vows to lead a more decent life and fight MORALLY SICK NEGRO AND WHITE WRETCHED COMMUNIST PERVERTS.  Then, from Above, a spotlight falls and caves in Bleep’s head.  We laugh until our sides ache, in keeping with government standards of decency.

Act II

Bleep, now wearing a neck brace and a cross, is ready to fight the good fight!  He picks up Satan’s handbag and begins walking with it through a park, toward FBI headquarters, where he plans to become an agent.  As Bleep walks, he tips his hat in a wholesome way to unseen nannies pushing strollers.  He pauses to pet imaginary kitties and sniff phantom daisies.  Naturally, you can tell exactly what is happening because Mime is the universal language!

Suddenly from nowhere, a gang of MORALLY SICK NEGRO AND WHITE WRETCHED COMMUNIST PERVERTS sees Bleep’s purse and decides he is “coming on” to them.  Overcome with sexual lust they cannot control, due to their inferior genomes, they pile on top of Bleep and participate in a sex orgy of the rawest sort!

Boxer shorts, bras, condoms fly tragically across a maroon-tinted backdrop.  A witch cackles.  Somebody gets an abortion.  A couple of extras, dressed as the HIV virus, recite marriage vows.  But because only criminals have rights in this society, Bleep is the one who ends up in the police station.

Act the Third

A farmhouse.  Bleak.  Desolate.  Foreclosed.  Because of his whiteface privilege, the cops have released Bleep with a warning.  Enter Bleep, distraught and bitter.  Big Government has failed him.  Bleep has decided to “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”  As he waits for his sheets to come out of the dryer, Bleep smears his body with Semtex and sprinkles dynamite on the floor.  Then he rolls around in an arty, yet Pro-Life, fashion.

A knock at the door.  Pete Seeger has just wrecked his boat, the Clearwater, about a mile downstream.  Will Bleep let him use the phone so Pete can continue to clean up the Hudson?  Covered in explosives, Bleep seethes with rage at this final communist insult.  Opting to become the first ever rightwing Christian suicide bomber, Bleep hurls his little body at the interloper, blowing up the entire theater and everyone in it.

Which only goes to show how evil MORALLY SICK NEGRO AND WHITE WRETCHED COMMUNIST PERVERTS really are.

The End.  Maybe.


Street Life of a Mad Activist Susie Day lives in New York City where she writes a humor column for feminist and gay publications. She has also written on U.S. political prisoners and labor issues and thinks her girlfriend, Laura Whitehorn, is hot stuff.  Can’t get enough of Susie?  Read other pieces by Susie Day in MRZine: Susie Day, “Fugitive Offers Reward for Rumsfeld’s Capture” (22 July 2005); “Street Life of a Mad Activist” (28 July 2005); “Waiting for Karl Rove” (9 August 2005); “A Child’s Primer of Intelligent Design” (24 August 2005); “The Flood This Time” (19 September 2005); “Things That Rise Up in the Night: A Howl-oween Treat” (18 October 2005); “President Salutes Anonymous Red-Baiter” (14 November 2005); “Conspicuous Consumption of a Mad Activist” (11 December 2005); “2006: The Year in Horrorscopes” (9 January 2006); “Visiting Herman” (7 February 2006); “Savior Self” (6 March 2006); “Pinko Plague Panics President” (4 April 2006); “Seymour Hersh and the American Brain” (2 May 2006); “Identity, Class, and Bite Me, David Horowitz” (30 May 2006); “Bugging Hillary” (19 June 2006); “Back in the USSA” (24 July 2006); “News from the Back of the Front” (21 August 2006); “Barbie at the Barricades” (20 September 2006); “How to Stay Out of Gitmo” (18 October 2006); “Ted Haggard and the Church of the Down-Low” (13 November 2006); “Police Gun Down Another Rich White Man” (11 December 2006); “Consuming Karl” (6 February 2007); “Anna Nicole Smith Bombs Iran” (6 March 2007); “Peter Pace Porks a Peck of Pinko Perverts” (2 April 2007); “Jesus Christ Weds Pat Robertson” (30 April 2007); “U.S. Troops Out of . . . ME” (30 May 2007); “Killer Lesbians Mauled by Killer Court, Media Wolf Pack” (27 June 2006); “Apartheid Americana” (23 July 2007); “Peace Movement Overthrows Government, Cheney Dies” (20 August 2007); “Honey, I Shrank the Military (Or, Who Put the ‘Pet’ in ‘Petraeus’?)” (21 September 2007); “Poppin’ Fresh Declares Martial Law” (13 November 2007); “Miracle on Pennsylvania Avenue: Santa Confirmed as FBI Head” (10 December 2007); “Croakin’ on Hudson” (7 January 2008); “Our Blob in the White House” (4 February 2008); “The Revolution Will Not Be Workshopped” (3 March 2008); “Ask Ms. Liberty: Advice for the War-Torn” (1 April 2008); “Gone with the ‘W'” (27 May 2008); and “Sex sans the City (A Post-Marxist Preview)” (23 June 2008).



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