I’m the Reverend Billy
1st October, 2004
'I can no longer sit back and allow terrorist infiltration, terrorist indoctrination, terrorist subversion, and the international terrorist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.' Commander George the Ripper Bush at Madison Square Garden
There is a stillness in the land of New York. The urban canyons are lined with faltering ripped flags and sad balloons – the Republicans have gone. They flew back across the Hudson River, back into America. And we "Anarchists" go back to our lives. Well we were called "Peace Marchers" and other gentler things until the media switched and our elephant puppetry and home-made Bush masks became OF THE DEVIL to the sleepy conservative children with their national bed-time story at the end of summer camp.
Our circus of peace passed right through their big top, two circuses of imagery and bold sloganeering – now we are quite sure we did our big cat act in a halogramic double. We never got close.
When your country is, as a system, embodied in HILARIOUS PUBLIC COWBOYS, buried somewhere in pre-Englightenment, raging against doubt in a shabby muddy fortress-town with club-dicked wolves dancing on the other side of wall. Except that these Republicans believe that this is the modern future and THEY LIKE IT. Bush looks you right in the eye and says YOU ARE A COWBOY LIKE ME AND TOGETHER WE WILL GRIN OURSELVES FORWARD IN A GRAND VIOLENT MOMENT, SWINGING OUR RIFLES AT THE DARK FORCES AT THE DOOR. In fact, the Republicans are in a kind of ecstatic love, not involving their genitals so much as a prosthetic member, say, a coonskin hat with a tail, unconsciously talismanic, say, the final moment of John Wayne’s "The Alamo," posing for a camera, reading a teleprompter, and swinging a fake gun at a darkie we can’t see.
The darkness at the door is the earth we live in, of course. You want to point that out. You march for days shouting BUT THAT IS LIFE ITSELF! -- and the tenth largest army in the world, 39,000 uniformed cops, descends on you. You want to say, -- these people have just sculpted the darkness together into a Moslem face, and before that it was Asian, and before that it was Russian, and before that it was.. oh.. Caliban. WHY DO WE BELIEVE THEM? At some point this needs to become obvious. It’s been going on centuries.
And there’s another jet over our home in lovely downtown Brooklyn. Well, who knows? -- Maybe this screaming hollow bullet fired back into the continent carries the last of the Republicans west. Maybe that’s the one who fell in love with a local prostitute anarchist here in the darkness of Soddom and Gomorrha and had to stay a few days longer, a momentary swoon with the humanists to the east. No, not likely. We would have had sex with them, sure, we would have done anything. But they were in a portable gated community through the whole week – we peppered them with DROP THE DEBT, STOP AIDS, and LICK MY BUSH! – called out to them from our home in the liminal rat shit between their limo and their party, but they moved within a sheath of uniforms. Some of us dressed up and slipped into their backrooms, then sent out text messages about their red white and blue martini called GLOBAL WARMING. (You think I’m kidding. I am not kidding.)
I need a meeting with GANDHI, JESUS, MALCOLM X, SOJOURNER TRUTH, AUNG SAN SUU KYI, JOSE BOVE, TOLSTOY AND DR. STRANGELOVE Can someone tell me what to do? Their Christian apocalyptic God asks them to have dominion over the earth, but we can no longer have pity for extinct species. Extinct species R us. We now so most of us are placed outside their wall, out in the darkness that they love to fear. So much of the earth’s population is cast as the dark extras, and those bright, technologized walls. Then suddenly I can imagine the flimsiness of this circusy predation. Just let Toto bark and bite the curtain and we will watch them pulling on the levers with all their frantic fear. But this week – we couldn’t find Oz. I feel like we let the world down. God, there were a lot of police.
Bill Talen’s book What Should I do if Reverend Billy is in my Store? (New Press) is available in independent bookshops (if you see it in a transnational chain store, steal it). Visit www.revbilly.com
This article first appeared in the Ecologist October 2004
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