Art for Fresh Hell.
Jason Arias
The Baffler,  October 15

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Jason Arias
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The Nightmare of History

Generally speaking, “history,” as it’s taught to children suffering through our glorious public education system, has tended to accept that the Holocaust—during which, it might be recalled, some six million Jewish men, women, and children were systematically exterminated by the Nazis—not only happened but was a very bad thing. Intellectually minded legislators in the great state of Texas, however, have taken issue with the mandated infliction of such uncritical moral judgements—propaganda, some might say—on impressionable young minds, and so in June they passed a law requiring teachers to present multiple “perspectives” when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial issues,” such as a genocide, widely documented and roundly condemned, that ended seventy-six years ago. That law goes into effect this December, and schools across the state are now scrambling to mangle their curriculums accordingly. Which is why one district administrator informed teachers last week that, if they planned to continuing teaching their students about the horrors of the Holocaust, they’d also need to offer students an “opposing” perspective.

 

A Swastika is a Swastika is a Swastika

Elsewhere along the bleeding edge of reactionary horror: Herschel Walker, the retired football player-cum-Republican candidate for Congress, cancelled a major fundraiser in Texas this week after its organizer, a Hollywood film producer responsible for, among other ghastly delights, Adam Sandler’s cross-dressing comedy Jack and Jill, was discovered to have as her Twitter profile photo a swastika fashioned out of four syringes. This graphic might, to the average viewer, be interpreted as implying a correlation between the Biden administration and the Nazi regime on the basis of the former’s efforts to end the mass death event through vaccinations, which is somehow (??) equivalent (????) to the mass extermination of, as previously mentioned, six million Jewish men, women, and children. But actually, the image of the swastika is not a swastika at all. “This is clearly an anti-mandatory vaccination graphic,” according to Walker’s campaign. “Herschel is a strong friend of Israel and the Jewish community and opposes hatred and bigotry of all forms.” Walker, we might add apropos of nothing, spent a great deal of the past year promulgating the lie that there was “country-wide election fraud,” urging Trump and “true patriots” to carry out a “total cleansing.”

 

One Simple Trick!

Meanwhile, Bloomberg has uncovered something truly, truly shocking. Please, sit down. Extremely rich people pay extremely little in taxes! And in New York, they’re paying substantially less in property taxes on their marbled, multi-million-dollar condos than the average homeowner thanks to a series of tax breaks purposefully designed to benefit the former at the expense of the latter! Thunder of god, no! And you know what’s worse? City officials, ostensibly around to serve the “public” interest, are making a regressive tax situation even worse by inventing “data points that bear no resemblance to market reality and [using] them in opaque calculations that tend to favor wealthy property owners. These flawed valuations shift hundreds of millions of dollars in tax burden from higher- to lower-priced properties and to rental apartment buildings every year.” Wow!

 

The Last Days of Disco

To China now, where dancing grandmas (see “Evan Finds the Third Room” by Khruangbin) are under attack by people who detest public expressions of joy. These grandmothers—there are an estimated one hundred million of them in China—tend to gather in large groups in public squares and dance in unison to exceptionally loud music blaring from portable speakers, but, as the Guardian reports, the use of remote stun gun-style devices to disable the speakers and terminate the public disco is on the rise. “Great invention, with this tool I will be the boss in the neighborhood now,” one happy purchaser noted. “This is not just a regular product, it is social justice!”

 

The Wizard of Nah

New Zealand, likewise, appears hellbent on expunging magic from public life: the city of Christchurch has fired its official wizard, who, since 1998, had been paid a modest annual salary “to provide acts of wizardry and other wizard-like services . . . as part of promotional work for the city of Christchurch,” leaving the city of some thirty hundred eight thousand now entirely vulnerable to attacks from goblins, demons, et al. 

 

The Hap-Hap-Happiest Christmas

And once again, we turn our attention to that annual orgy of debt-financed consumption and discontent: Christmas, now less than seventy-five days away. The White House, awakening to the global supply chain’s imminent demise, reluctantly admitted this week that, though we live under the greatest system of wealth and goods distribution ever devised, “there will be things that people can’t get” this holiday season. So while, yes, more than six hundred thousand Americans have now died from Covid-19, what the public should consider mourning is the ability to two-day ship their entire shopping list.

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