Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thurber's Very Proper Gander isn't quite a creature of our time, but the teabaggers would still know how to deal with him


"A duck remembered that the gander had once told him
he did not believe in anything. 'He said to hell with
the flag, too,' said the duck."

(typing) by Ken

The time for which James Thurber wrote his Fables for Our Time wasn't quite our time, but a case could be made that the American worship of ignorance and the intolerance for any deviation from orthodoxy undergo merely cosmetic change. Since Thurber isn't around to fabulize the assorted strains of 21st-century right-wingery, we have to extrapolate, but only a tad.

The Very Proper Gander

by James Thurber

Not so long ago there was a very fine gander. He was strong and beautiful and he spent most of his time singing to his wife and children. One day somebody who saw him strutting up and down in his yard and singing remarked, "There is a very proper gander." An old hen overheard this and told her husband about it that night in the roost. "They said something about propaganda," she said. "I have always suspected that," said the rooster, and he went around the barnyard next day telling everybody that the very fine gander was a dangerous bird, more than likely a hawk in gander's clothing. A small brown hen remembered a time when at a great distance she had seen the gander talking with some hawks in the forest. "They were up to no good," she said. A duck remembered that the gander had once told him he did not believe in anything. "He said to hell with the flag, too," said the duck. A guinea hen recalled that she had once seen somebody who looked very much like the gander throw something that looked a great deal like a bomb. Finally everybody snatched up sticks and stones and descended on the gander's house. He was strutting in his front yard, singing to his children and his wife. "There he is!" everybody cried. "Hawk-lover! Unbeliever! Flag-hater! Bomb-thrower!" So they set upon him and drove him out of the country.

Moral: Anybody who you or your wife thinks is going to overthrow the government by violence must be driven out of the country.

P.S.: The time in which Thurber wrote the first set of Fables for Our Time (there would also be a Further Fables for Our Time) was 1939-40, so no, he wasn't writing about the McCarthy era. He was describing it before it happened.

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At 12:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First time hearing this fable stands the test of time

At 8:36 PM, Anonymous Barb Chamberlain, Bike Style Spokane said...

I just reread The Thurber Carnival and was immediately struck by The Very Proper Gander (and, to a lesser extent, The Birds and the Foxes) as being fables for our time. I went looking for commentary and found your blog. Couldn't agree more.

At 1:16 PM, Blogger justgonnastay said...

Herman Cain is a very proper gander.

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, the dems are just as bad. Look how they demonize repubs on Medicare and Welfare (for example), using abhorrent scare tactics to swing voters to solidify their own power over those voters.

Neither side is innocent.


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