(First published 2000)
Perhaps someone can remember this incident from the annals of recent antiquity: 1998, summer, Washington D.C. (or as my former 5-year-old used to call it: Washington Disease, I kid you not.) Amnesty International was having yet another ubiquitous assemblage of anarchists, rock-n’-rollers and hygenically-challenged losers, all gathered to mourn the oppression of Tibet by Red China, the cause celebre du jour.
Of course, you wouldn’t have known that they were really upset about the treatment of the Tibetans, because if you saw this ridiculous spectacle, you would have mistakenly thought it was a rock concert. In fact, it was a giant, sweltering mass of unfocused mayhem, with the added benefit of a mosh pit thrown in for good measure.
Sigh. I used to think a little more highly of Amnesty International. From the time I was little, my father, the most articulate anti-Communist I know, instilled in me a deep and lasting concern for the oppressed of the world. Whether by communists or right-wing Central American despots, I always had a strong desire to see freedom and liberty expand, the purpose for which I believed America existed. I broach the blasphemous when criticizing Amnesty International. I just have a difficult time believing that all those college-educated boobs whose only jobs seem to be protesting something all the time could conjure up enough compassion for the oppressed folks in Tibet, or anywhere else for that matter.
But these are self-proclaimed Nonconformists. So that makes them far more righteous than you or I. These are the smug, self-satisfied Nonconformists who shout in unison: "Hey, Hey, Ho Ho, Western Civ has got to go!" In fact, these Nonconformists do everything in unison. They march together in unison, chant in unison, listen to the same lame anarchist music as one, and fall all over themselves in unity in order to be seen on camera, in order to have a parade, a party…all together now, say it with me:
(Fill In The Blank)s of the World, UNITE!!!
They are the ultimate conformists. They are insufferable, intolerant of other points of view, quick to knock down those who disagree with them or get in their way, and first to whine about being oppressed. What is so nonconformist about them? Truly, the only nonconformist in the multitude of publicity-seeking rock stars, movie stars and their worshipful dregs and lemmings was the girl in the stands who got struck by lightning that day. Do any of you remember this event? Or that while protesting the oppression of Tibet, people were collapsing in the stands and mosh pits from heat stroke and dehydration? I remember seeing this farce from the air-conditioned safety of my living room. If I were a Buddhist in a Chinese hellhole, being tortured by some Commie thug, I would find little comfort knowing that in the freest country on earth, they were having a party at my expense and Amnesty International was making money from this event hand over fist, using my plight to get rich.
Here it is, two years later and now we know what the oppressed Tibetans were actually thinking: suicide - as a result of the torture they experienced. Five Tibetan nuns committed suicide while in America, Amnesty International holds its perpetual star-studded gala events and rock concerts. Of course, these are consciousraising-fundraising-egobathing- backpatting sessions. It did nothing to stop the Chinese from driving these women to kill themselves, but by golly, we sure do feel better about ourselves, don’t we!
Someone in Holier-Than-Thou-Wood, is getting another award for being so caring, for being a better human being than everyone else, maybe he or she will take the time to thank those dead Buddhist nuns for making it all possible.
I know of only a few nonconformists. Brave men and women who never sought an audience, and I will reserve the last few phrases of this column for them: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Rusty Jones.
Many of you will know Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a good Aryan Lutheran pastor who actually came to believe that assassinating Hitler was the Only Good Thing Left for any honorable German to do in order to save the world.
Rusty Jones was a widow from Havre, Montana, whose home became a bastion for young men stationed at the airbase, far from home and lonely in windswept Northern Montana. Men who were 19 and 20 years old came to love this woman as a mother. When she wasn’t looking after these servicemen, she was smuggling Bibles into Iron Curtain countries during the darkest days of the Cold War. She brought servicemen hope in her small corner of the world, and hope to those thirsting for the word of God in far-flung places, where being oppressed is the mark of a true believer.
To Rusty Jones and Dietrich Bonhoeffer: You are my true Heroes. You have defined what it means to be a real Nonconformist in this world. All the rest of you are genuine insofar as you are real swine, wearing fake pearls for the entire world to admire.