how to spot the enemy

How to Spot the Enemy

You would think that recognizing Al-Qaeda members is a walk in the park. If you see a guy with a dirty beard and a turban glancing around nervously at the AA boarding gate, you might seriously consider taking a later flight. The only thing that would keep you from raising your voice is good old PC. But I’m not sure visual clues are such an effective method any more with Al-Qaeda. After all they too know that guys with turbans and dirty beards have got a bad rap recently. So maybe you start to pay extra attention to the hip guy in the jogging suit with the copy of Maxim under his arm and the Blackberry glued to his ear. The nose and the kinky hair give you pause. But now the Charlie Brown principle comes into play. They know that you know that they know and so on. The guy in the turban might really be an Al-Qaeda type because he knows that you know that no Al-Qaeda in its right mind would run around airports smelling of camel sweat. Or both of them might be. The strategy would be that, while one of them was being tasered to within an inch of his life, the other one could slip on board with his sarin in a Red Bull can. Since this conundrum borders on the metaphysical, I’ve got no easy solution. I can only suggest that if the blonde goddess in the seat next to you starts to fiddle with her shoe sole, you immediately declare, “Honey, in the name of airline security, I’m afraid I will have to confiscate that shoe. I’m a Marshall, you know.” (That is your last name, isn’t it?) Who knows? Unless you end up being dropped off in Reykjavik (Remember blonde goddesses are obsessed with their shoes for entirely different reasons than Al-Qaeda grunts), that could even work as a pickup line. If you’re on a roll demand the bra too.

However, there is an equally dangerous enemy in our midst for which we have not yet developed a conscious detection strategy. I mean the assorted Xtian priests, ministers, shamans, doctors, reverend doctors, witch doctors, deacons, charismatic leaders, seminarians, altar boys, snake charmers, snake biters, sacristans and all ’round good ole boys that litter the desolate American prairie. If you have to ask why these characters are dangerous, this essay might be a bit too advanced for you. (Hint: At first all they want is your money, but eventually they get around to cultural immersion in Donny and Marie and Old Country Buffet. If you’re a woman, the regulation twelve children is another perhaps not entirely welcome prospect.) So, in the spirit of anti-terrorist vigilance I offer the following suggestions for spotting the officers, junior and senior, in Xtian propaganda cells.

In the old days popish priests were a laydown. They wore funny clothes. But now they too have taken on protective coloration. It is not because they are afraid of being mistaken for terrorists (anywhere outside of Mississippi). Perhaps they got tired of being stopped on the street and being asked, if god is so good why did he create Dr. Pepper? Or maybe they just wanted faster service at Mississippi lunch counters. A certain Irish-ness was once a clue, but Ireland (the real Ireland) has quite recently become as secular as it gets. I’m sure all those tortured orphans and butt-fucked altar boys had something to do with it. The few real Irish people I have met act somewhat more like the dreaded English than any fighting Irish of yore. Some version of Latin-Americanishness should also raise your antenna (We do a disservice to Latin America, especially Mexico, with the clichéd image of priest ridden Indians grateful to pick your grapes for 50 cents an hour. The tradition of the atheist intellectual is actually somewhat stronger in Mexico than in the US. And certain Mexican states were as socialist and anti-clerical as any French labor union.) But the truth is visuals alone are little help with papists. Behavior is a better clue. Senior officers have a certain unctuousness (a quality they share with their reformation brethren); and besides they will eventually reveal themselves to you in all their glory (“Let me lay my cards on the table. I’m the Bishop of Sheboygan.”) The grunts might tip themselves off by acting a little off kilter. Latinos are so beatific you wonder if some serotonin reagent might be involved (Actually the loopy smile is considered a plus; it is the product of hours spent in front of the mirror pretending to be Dostoevsky’s Alyosha.) By way of contrast I notice that Irish priests, particularly the middle aged ones, radiate a kind of marten-like ferocity, perhaps acquired from years in the locker room urging on the basketball team.

Protestants in general are a tough lot to corner since the ideal protestant minister back when it all started was Jack the blacksmith whose tenure was limited. However, there is a sub-species of protestant that displays its plumage so boldly that I’m surprised more alerts have not been sent out to atheists across the land. Fortunately or unfortunately these are the really dangerous ones. They are not simple grass snakes. We’re dealing with water moccasins here. They are the assorted evangelicals, baptists, anabaptists, southern baptists, conservative Xtians, values voters, school board infiltrators, goobers and so forth whose goal is not just to have you sit around all day with Kix and dirty diapers; it is also to get you blown up. The reasoning is, if there’s some sort of big battle in which you get blown up they will be raptured. (You would think that a couple of hits of ecstasy would be enough rapture for anyone to handle.) If you ask me why you need to get involved in their schemes, I can’t answer. I’m not an expert in goober theology.

So what is the tipoff? It’s the hair. The males have plastic hair. It’s not easy to describe the look, but you know it when you see it. Every strand is neatly arranged, and the entire profile is composed of smooth rolling curves like a race car driver’s helmet or Jennifer Lopez’ buttocks. The strands also look exceptionally thick and appear to be composed of nothing approaching the cellular, as if they came off an Elvis doll. Jimmy Johnson, the coach, had this kind of hair, but I’m not sure whether he was a goober operative or not (which goes to show that this profile is not perfect).  The point is, if you see anyone with the body of an aging slave trader (not a requirement: recent graduates from the Billy Bob Theological Seminary might still retain that svelte profile from their high school football days) and hair by Mattel, be on your guard. Try to see if you can get him close to a metal detector, but above all keep your back to the wall. In case he’s merely in agitprop, snap on your Bose headphones or pretend you speak only Lithuanian. These types haven’t started toting around bombs yet (The present plan is to infiltrate the US armed forces and rely on conventional warfare), but they are experts in psychological tactics. If they can’t get your money, they will at least drive you insane with non sequiturs.

It may be that the hair is merely a vanity motif. They spend their parishioners’ money on haircuts for the same reason they wear suits from Sears (senior officers wear Armani). God’s work seems to require a little tonsorial flair (All this assumes they are indeed human and not silica based units created in a basement lab in Virginia). There might also be a historical reason. Remember, the goobers were once called roundheads. That’s because their grooming consisted of an inverted bowl and a pair of scissors back in Jolly Old where they were preparing to kill the king. In any case the hair test provides, I think, an imperfectly sufficient but not necessary condition, for being a goober officer. After all no one else in his right mind would wear his hair like that.

What about the females? In the first place they can’t be officers, only helpmeets and organists. (There might be a good strategic reason for the subordination of women. All that frustrated energy could make a person especially vicious, like the coal miners’ wives in Germinal.) But they have exhibited certain complementary capillary tendencies best exemplified in poor Tammy Faye. So if you see a woman who looks like an overweight, over the hill sorority gal with hair by Frederick’s of Hollywood, she might be the cherished helpmeet of a goober capo. Might. I gather that your regulation Stepford Wife looks much the same.

As usual the goober lumpenproletariat get the short end of the stick. My impression of the female Xtian troops is one of eyeglasses and premature balding. All that child bearing, not to mention a diet consisting entirely of brats and Cheez-Its, does nothing for the luster of the skin.