Trump supporters scaling the Capitol wall on January 6. (Photo by Jose Luis Magana, Associated Press.)
This summer’s congressional hearings on the Trump-incited Capitol Riot of January 6 remind us once again that most Republicans have tried to minimize how awful things were that day. The far-right white mob was violent and racist as they parroted Trump’s “Stop the Steal” lie that he won the 2020 presidential election, yet most Republicans have since made it seem like those January 6 actions were mostly benign. They know in their heart of hearts that there was no excuse for what was done in the Capitol building that day, but those spineless/unprincipled GOP politicians are more concerned about staying in office by not angering the vile Trump and his base.
Anyway, what would happen if Republicans tried to revise some famous novels as much as they’ve tried to revise the history of January 6 in an effort to make villainous characters and negative scenes seem more positive?
Let’s start with an early segment of Jane Eyre. The “pious” hypocrite Mr. Brocklehurst nearly starves Jane and the other hungry, freezing girls in his Lowood institution, even as he and his family live the wealthy high life. But in a 2021 Republican retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel, Mr. B would be a hero — keeping the orphan girls fashionably slim and creating jobs (for undertakers).
In The Grapes of Wrath, the Joads are evicted from their farm in drought-stricken Oklahoma by heartless bankers and then try for a better life in 1930s California — only to face one daunting ordeal after another. In a 2021 Republican retelling of John Steinbeck’s novel, the eviction-happy bankers would be lauded for maximizing profits, for further enriching real-estate interests by buying themselves more vacation homes, and for helping oil companies become even more profitable as ousted farm families buy lots of gas to drive their jalopies to the West Coast. There, California employers pay the Joads and other new arrivals such low wages for arduous work (if they find work) that those beleaguered employees can’t afford to see The Grapes of Wrath movie and get populist ideas.
The Handmaid’s Tale depicts a patriarchal society in which women are brutalized and discriminated against in all kinds of appalling ways. But the Republican spin on Margaret Atwood’s novel would be that women are still in the top two when it comes to how the two genders are treated. Better than the top three, no?
Speaking of dystopian novels, Republicans could also soften 1984 by saying the book’s evil totalitarian government makes a reader think of Total cereal — which has all kinds of vitamins and minerals. And they’d add that it’s only fair for the rat to get a star turn near the end of George Orwell’s novel after Winston Smith was featured so much in the book. Who said most Republicans oppose animal rights?
A major character in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita is Professor Woland, who also happens to be Satan. Republicans usually hate profs — they’re liberal academics, after all — but Woland is THE DEVIL. So, to the GOP, he’s more beloved than Anne Shirley, Jo March, Dorothy Gale, Madeline, and Bilbo Baggins combined. And why read six books (including those with all the aforementioned characters) when one book will do? Leaves more time to destroy democracy.
Moving on to Kurt Vonnegut’s most-famous novel, Republicans would simply change the name of Slaughterhouse-Five to Slaughter House Six to reference the House of Representatives and January 6. And they’d say the book was mostly a comedy, a la The House of Mirth. (Of course, Edith Wharton’s novel was far from funny.)
Most readers know that the abusive Bob Ewell is a virulent racist who ruins the life of Black man Tom Robinson in Harper Lee’s 1930s-set To Kill a Mockingbird. But to Republicans, Ewell is “good people” and “our base.” Sure, they’re disappointed that he didn’t participate in the January 6 riot, but, then again, Ewell would be over 130 years old if he lived until 2021. Not an ideal age for scaling a Capitol wall.
Any other novels with heartbreaking moments you’d like to mention that Republicans could cynically make more benign?
My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.
In addition to this weekly blog, I write the 2003-started/award-winning “Montclairvoyant” local topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest weekly piece — about an election controversy, required COVID vaccinations, and more — is here.