If you ever read comic books as a kid – or do now – you might be familiar with “Bizarro World.” That’s a place in the Superman stories in which a mutant population does everything opposite of what humans do.
They greet each other with “Goodbye.” It’s a compliment to tell someone they are ugly or stupid. Their planet is cubed shaped, instead of round.
If you’ve been keeping up with current events, you might have the sense that we now live in a Bizarro-esque era. Everything’s been turned upside down and backwards, with a hint of George Orwell in there to boot.
This applies to the entire political spectrum. Republicans used to be strict law-and-order guys, revering the FBI as an example of American law enforcement at its very best. Democrats were much more skeptical, and complained about intrusions into privacy and politics about what used to be called “Hoover boys.”
Now, if you are right of center – especially if it’s far right – you might be thinking that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is run by a bunch of disgruntled lefties, obsessed with besmirching the fellow in the White House. It’s the Democrats now who have pinned a lot of their hopes on the humorless guys in the dark blue suits.
For decades and decades, the international public enemy number one was Russia. We spent billions and billions of dollars in seeking to contain and compete with those Ivans, and the GOP was especially virulent in its opposition to all things smelling of vodka and borsht. Democrats tended to be a bit less agitated, advocating a friendlier approach to the guys from Moscow. They’re just like us, except not as nicely-dressed.
In our present world, though, the situation is much different. Wall Street seems fine with cuddling with the Kremlin, and the lads and lassies in San Francisco and Chicago accuse Mr. Putin of every heinous offense from dictatorship to disco.
Civil rights is also on the Bizarro radar. A couple of generations ago, college professors who espoused left-leaning ideas were called to the carpet. Today, it’s a lean to the right that will bring you into collision with trouble. Academic freedom is proving to be a moving target, with some liberals being as opposed to conservative expression as some conservatives used to be back in the Fifties.
It makes you wonder about what playwright Robert Bolt in “A Man for All Seasons” called “the ocean-going principles” of some people, who are moved more by political winds then enduring standards and beliefs.
You may have read recently that there may have been an actual, no-kidding official government inquiry recently done about UFO sightings. Termed the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, this secret operation spent $22 million of our tax money looking into flying saucers, and whether they posed any danger.
Well, based on today’s headlines, here’s my conclusion, and it won’t cost you a dime.
Those visitors aren’t from Mars or Vulcan but from the Bizarro World. They’ve infiltrated many of our most important institutions from government to mass media to higher education and on and on.
No need to worry about invaders from Out There. They’re already here. We’ve met the enemy and – as the Bizarros might say – it am not us.
Jim Tortolano’s Retorts appears on Wednesdays. And yes, he is a big Superman fan.