Letter from California

An archive of the weekly "Letter from Calfornia", written by Jim McCarthy.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Letter from California-December 6, 2004

Here in California, you can always find unsavory and wild-eyed crazies by going to a Target department store. For some reason, half-baked loons with less-than-half-baked ideas have taken to congregating right in the doorway, where shoppers will either have to stiff-arm them out of the way or listen to their ravings. At the Holiday season, many people won’t have the spare energy to confront an “activist” on a gingerbread mochacchino high, so they opt to spend a couple of minutes hearing the person’s spiel and then responding to their bizarre pleas. Yes, there are a lot of stray animals, but no, I don’t think homeowners should be forced to adopt them and pretend they’re human children. Yes, illegal immigration is a problem, but no, I don’t want to give you money to pass a law saying people from other countries must walk backward and speak in opposites for the first five years in the U.S. I just need to buy a giant bottle of laundry detergent, and a $30 wine rack. And maybe a George Foreman grill and some sodas.

Inevitably, these folks don’t give up, and customers end up having to stiff arm them anyway, sending them tumbling backward into their campaign literature, which, it turns out, was just a few stacks of takeout menus from the Falafel and Gyros restaurant across the street. All in all, this is a pretty intense scene, and while knocking over freaks to avoid having to hear their crackpot opinions can be fun, it’s also a nuisance. Especially when you’re just trying to pick up a three-pack of Nerf footballs and some Homer Simpson pajamas.

So it’s about time that Target got tough with one of these groups. With all their bell-ringing, and ho-ho-hoing, and collecting all that money for the needy, the Salvation Army really does get on your nerves right about this time of year, doesn’t it? Yes, of all the miscreants, low-lifes and nitwits that hang out in front of Target, the Salvation Army is the group the company kicked out for the Holidays. Leave the Vegetable Rights Bridgade and the White Pride Society alone, but the Salvation Army has just got to go.

A little tough to figure, don’t you think? Under normal circumstances, someone standing on a corner and ringing a bell in your ear might annoy you, but at Christmas, the Salvation Army makes it sound festive. The change practically jumps out of your pocket and into that red kettle.

You might even say that the Salvation Army is as much a part of Christmas shopping as the Declaration of Independence is a part of American history. That would show what you know. A teacher in a public school in Cupertino (yes, it’s just outside of San Francisco) is suing for the right to distribute the Declaration of Independence in his U.S. History class.

Why, you ask, should a history teacher need to sue for the right to use the Declaration in history class? Because he was forbidden to do so thanks to the Declaration’s mention of “God” in several places. Actually, the teacher claims that he distributed the Declaration and talked about the religious beliefs of the founding fathers in response to a student question about the recent Supreme Court case about the Pledge of Allegiance. No matter! Any material, even the founding document of our entire nation, that discusses God won’t be permitted by the Cupertino schools. If students have an interest in American history, they should find a more appropriate place for their little hobby than American History class. It sounds strange, but if you think about it, you can see where they’re coming from.

They’re coming from Crazy Town. Cupertino school administrators should be setting up card tables with takeout menus on them at Target stores and trying to convince customers that it’s time to take the history of the U.S. out of U.S. History and replace it with episodes 4, 5 and 6 of the Star Wars series. That’s the level of deep thinking going on there.

Meanwhile, in Sacramento, Governor Schwarzenegger has undone something that it took a weenie like Gray Davis to do. For several years, the State had a “Holiday Tree” which looked suspiciously like a Christmas tree. Davis, it seems, thought that Christmas would be so much better if only we didn’t mention the “Holiday” we were celebrating by lighting a gigantic tree. That’s the kind of political brilliance that made him loved and respected all across the State…or something like that. Arnold says that as long as he’s governor, it will be a Christmas tree.

And historians in Cupertino will record that in 2004, California Governor Luke Skywalker thanked The Force for a year of blessings as he lit the State’s official Jedi Tree with his mighty light saber.


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