Saturday, June 24, 2006

In the End Zone

"Let me ask. What's the strangest thing about this country? It's that when I wake up tomorrow morning, any morning, the first bit of fear I have doesn't concern our national enemies, our traditional cold-war or whatever-kind-of-war enemies. I'm not afraid of those people at all. So then who am I afraid of because I'm definitely of somebody. Listen and I'll tell you. I'm afraid of my own country. I'm afraid of the United States of America. It's ridiculous, isn't it? But look. Take the Pentagon. If anybody kills us on a grand scale, it'll be the Pentagon. On a small scale, watch out for your local police. Look at you looking at me that way, some of you. Question. Will two polite college-educated-of-course friendly agents of the brainwash squad knock on my door at three in the morning? You see my winning infectious smile and you know I'm not worried. This is America. We say what we want. I could talk all day, citing chapter and verse. But when the true test comes, I'll probably go running to a beauty shop, if you can find one in this neck of the world, and I'll get my hair dyed blond so everybody will think I'm one of those small blondie boys with the faraway look in their eyes who used to be so big on the Himmelplatz three or four decades ago. . . . I have a deep thought for you. Science fiction is just beginning to catch up with the Old Testament. See artificial nitrates run off into the rivers and oceans. See carbon dioxide melt the polar ice caps. See the world's mineral reserves dwindle. See war, famine and plague. See barbaric hordes defile the temple of the virgins. See wild stallions mount prarie dogs. I said science fiction but I guess I meant science. Anyway there's some kind of mythical and/or historic circle-thing being completed here. But I keep smiling. I keep telling myself there's nothing to worry about as long as the youth of America knows what's going on. Brains, brawn, good teeth, tallness. I look at your faces and I have to let out a controversial little grin. Some of you in nifty blue uniforms here to learn about outer space and how to police it. Uniforms, flags, battle hymns. I offer you my only quotable remark of the entire fall semester. A nation is never more ridiculous than in its patriotic manifestations. Why should I be afraid of my own government? There's something wrong here. But I'm not worried. Fortunately I'm good at ducking. I can bob and weave with the best of them. It takes a lot to stop a little man."

--Don DeLillo from the novel End Zone, 1972.


Post a Comment

<< Home