Mayberry’s Good Police

For a while it seemed like Mayberry’s relationship with the state police was on solid ground but it goes sour again in “The Inspector.”  It begins when Andy interrupts Barney’s game of checkers (against himself) with a stack of mail.  The first package contains gifts of leather from a friendly trio of brothers that were arrested and imprisoned by Andy and neogriffithism 1.26 Otis watches as inspector and Andy fightBarney.  That is followed by a letter with less heartening news, it informs them of an upcoming inspection.  The letter apparently got lost in the mail because the inspector is set to arrive that day.  Barney quickly becomes anxious even though Andy has experience with the inspector and assures him that there is nothing to worry about.  Fearing that the jail is too empty Barney goes out in search of a prisoner, quickly leading him to arrest Otis Campbell, but Andy refuses to lock him up seeing as how it’s his birthday.  Instead, he goes out to get a cake after promising Otis that they will all celebrate the occasion with the inspector, who is also friendly with Otis.

While Andy is out the inspector arrives, but it isn’t the fishing buddy that Andy was expecting.  It’s Ralph Case, a hard-nosed man with a penchant for jotting criticisms into a notepad.  He quickly takes umbrage with the way Andy runs things, what with the luxurious decor in the cells, Barney’s gun lacking bullets, the lax treatment of prisoners, and Barney almost shooting him in the foot the second his gun his loaded.  When Ralph leaves he warns that he will return with his superior behind him and Andy stands to lose his job.

Upon Ralph’s return he finds Andy and Barney trapped in a cell with Andy dressed in a polka-dot tie and a floppy-brimmed fishing hat that Opie brought him so he could dress up for the arrival of Ralph’s boss.  After Andy and Barney are released a frightened man rushes in and informs them that a moonshiner named Luke Reiner is holed up in his house shooting at anyone who comes near.  neogriffithism 1.26 Andy's new uniformAndy, Barney, and Ralph head out to Luke’s place.  Ralph is quick to cite procedure, insisting that Andy call for backup and suggesting the use of tear gas.  Andy refuses and instead walks though the line of fire like Wonder Woman coming out of the trenches, trusting Luke’s aim and that the crazed shooter doesn’t actually want to hurt him.  Ralph’s boss arrives just in time to witness Andy’s act of courage, after which he shows no interest in Ralph’s notepad full of infractions.  The episode ends much like Andy’s last major encounter with the state police, with the Sheriff having proven his competence despite first impressions and with everyone leaving on good terms.

Side Notes

  • It’s disappointing to see that Otis has fallen off the wagon so quickly but you can’t blame a guy for celebrating his birthday.
  • Luke Reiner is the second moonshiner portrayed by Jack Prince on the show.  The first was Ben Sewell in the episode “Alcohol and Old Lace.”
  • The actor who plays Ralph’s boss is Willis Bouchey, who frequently worked with legendary Western film director John Ford and delivered the final line “Nothing’s too good for the man who shot Liberty Valence” in Ford’s classic The Man who Shot Liberty Valence.

The Moral of the Story

Once again we see Andy embroiled in a conflict between relativism and absolutism.  Previously, we’ve seen Andy’s relaxed approach to his job and morality in general come into conflict with more structured people like Ellie or Barney, but they are usually portrayed more sympathetically than Ralph.  The inspector is about as straightforwardly villainous as anyone we’ve ever seen on the show.  His strict adherence to rule and policy psychologically tortures Barney and threatens Luke’s safety without need.  In the end Andy proves that his more personal approach to peacekeeping is superior to Ralph’s system of policy.

Modern Mayberry

Here we see Andy Taylor at his most Libertarian.  This episode is a clear indictment of government overreach.  The powerful bureaucracy of the State Police comes to Andy’s doorstep and pushes the Sheriff around, demanding that he follow procedure even at the risk of harming civilians.  It’s pretty clear cut: more humanistic police work is preferable to top-down management.

However, Andy is no ordinary cop.  His methods only work because of his close relationship with the people under his protection  He knows everyone in town and everyone knows him.  He is able to arrest Luke without incident only because he knows of the man’s skill with a gun and trusts him not to aim to kill.  In order for an unregulated, personalized approach to work all police would have to live up to Andy’s example.

At least one town’s police force in North Carolina is making an effort to honor Andy Taylor’s legacy.  Since Fuquay-Varina’s new police chief Laura Fahnestock arrived in April of 2015 the department has greatly increased it’s public outreach.  Laura’s use of humor on the department’s Facebook page has become famous, especially the posts regarding the pursuit of a wild hog.  A video series released earlier this year paired Fuquay officers with young people to discuss the challenges each face.  Most notably, the department began taking place in the “Coffee with a Cop” program, in which police officers make themselves available in a local restaurant for anyone to approach for a conversation.  The next such event will be November 8th, at The Corner Biergarten.

Coffee with a Cop began in California in 2011, shortly before the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement.  Since 2013 the eyes of the nation have been on the relationship between police and the people they are charged with protecting.  That relationship has grown increasingly tense as we’ve repeatedly seen police kill unarmed black people.  Coffee with a Cop and Black Lives Matter have the same goal: humanization.  One invites people to have a conversation with an officer and the other begs the police and everyone else to see that the value of a black person is the same as anyone else.  Perhaps there is hope in these two forces to help police see citizens as humans rather than stereotypes, statistics, or even enemies, and to focus on people more often than procedure.

 

What do you think Andy would do?
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Otis Campbell and the War on Drugs

“A Plaque for Mayberry” opens with a competition between Barney and Otis.  The deputy insists that Otis’ sobriety is tested before he is released from his cell.  Otis then surpasses expectations by eloquently quoting a limerick before Barney can get it out of his mouth, hopping on one foot until Barney runs out of breath, and he would have touched his ineogriffithism 1.25 the nose pinchndex fingers together with his eyes closed if Barney’s nose hadn’t gotten in the way.  Panting and slouched in a chair Barney allows Otis to walk out the door.  Immediately after that Andy gets a call requesting his and his deputy’s presence at the Mayor’s office.

When they arrive they see that Mayor Pike is entertaining two well-dressed, elderly female guests.  They are representatives of the Women’s Historical Society.  They are in town after discovering that a hero of the Revolutionary War, who burned a local bridge before the enemy could cross it, lived in Mayberry.  They have also unearthed that this hero, Nathan Tibbs, has a descendant who still lives in town but theyneogriffithism 1.25 Otis and his wife aren’t certain who it is yet.  They intend to hold a ceremony honoring Nathan and deliver a plaque to his descendant.  Everyone in town, especially Barney, hopes that they are the rightful heir but, as the saying goes, there can only be one.  Everyone is shocked when that one turns out to be none other than “town drunk” Otis Campbell.

Out of fear that Otis will embarrass the town Mayor Pike asks Andy to find someone to replace him for the ceremony.  Andy can’t bear to go through with the scheme when he sees a sober Otis and his wife beaming with pride.  On the day of the ceremony Otis is running late, causing Andy to worry he made a mistake by putting his trust in the alcoholic.  Before much longer Otis arrives well-dressed and in shiny new shoes that neogriffithism 1.25 Barney and Otis at the ceremonyslowed him down and caused is tardiness.  When he is handed the plaque Otis graciously hands it over to the Mayor to accept on behalf of the town, claiming that he hasn’t done anything to earn such an award other than be born to an ancestor he didn’t know existed until recently.  After what would be the commercial break if I weren’t watching it on Netflix Otis stumbles into the jail, causing Andy and Barney to fear that he has once again fallen prey to his disease, which is what alcoholism is, but it turns out that his only problem is that his new shoes are hurting his feet.

Sidenotes

  • When Opie asks about the nature of parentage in regards to Nathan Tibbs Andy when-you’re-older’s his way out of a “birds and the bees” conversation.  I’m surprised he didn’t go with “ask your Aunt Bee.”
  • Barney’s middle name is apparently Oliver.
  • In a tender moment between Otis, his wife, and Andy, the actor who plays Otis, Hal Smith, proves himself to be a very strong actor.

The Moral of the Story

The heart of this episode lies in the conflict between Barney and Otis.  Barney clearly sees Otis’ alcoholism as a moral failing and thinks himself Otis’ superior.  He believes that he can easily best Otis at even simple acts of triviality, sober or not.  When word gets out about Nathan’s descendant Barney is certain he is the scion.  He is fully prepared to accept the award and deliver a grandiose oration.  When the great-great-great-grandson is revealed to be Otis he responds with pride but also sincere humility.  At the ceremony he denies that he is worthy of such a reward because it is nothing more than a matter of genetics, a product of his birth, not of anything he did to earn it.  However, Otis’ greatest weakness, the part of him that makes him an outcast of Mayberrian society, is also a product of his genes.  His aloholism is a disease over which he has little control.  Because Barney lacks this genetic flaw he considers himself superior.

Modern Mayberry

As early as the 1940’s experts began to think of alcoholism as a disease.  That idea apparently hadn’t picked up enough traction to make it to Mayberry by the early 1960’s.  By 1987 the medical community was convinced that addiction is a disease, enough that the American Medical Association declared it so.  However, that same year President Ronald Reagan publicly redoubled the government’s efforts in the War on Drugs, thus contributing to the misconception that addiction is a moral failure and should be treated as a criminal activity.

Fortunately, the truth that addiction is a genetic weakness, not a moral failure, is once again becoming widespread but it may be too little, too late.  The tragic misunderstanding of what addiction is has resulted in insufficient treatment for addicts, allowing countless people to suffer over the decades.  As if that weren’t bad enough on the surface, there’s another horrid truth lying underneath: the belief that addicts are inferior to others is tied to the belief that black people are inferior to whites.

It’s no coincidence that Ronald’s War on Drugs was announced in the height of the crack epidemic, which by far hit black communities the hardest.  The way America and its white citizens and leaders responded to the crack epidemic has now come back to haunt them.  As Vox points out, with help from Ta-Nehisi Coates, if the reaction to black people in pain were more logical and compassionate America would have been better prepared to handle the opium crisis that is currently ravaging people of all demographics, but especially white and Native American people.  Again, it’s probably not a coincidence that it is becoming more common for people to see addiction as a disease rather than a moral failing now that the disease is affecting white people in large numbers.

With the consideration that one person or group is inferior to another comes a failure to empathize and understand.  Even if it’s later than it should be there are signs that Americans are developing a more sympathetic view of addiction and it is making all the difference.  In 2016 North Carolina became one of many states to have a syringe exchange program.  In just over a year the program has helped at least one person find sobriety. One might not seem like much but it means a lot to Jason Jackson, who would likely still be using heroin if not for the program.  Because he was treated as a person struggling with something beyond his control he was able to find the help he needed to take control.  Seeing any race or group as less than is a threat to society as a whole, but if you see everyone as fully human and deserving of respect you allow for someone like Otis Campbell to surpass expectations.

 

What do  you think Andy would do?

Procrastinating with Andy

With a social on the horizon Andy is expecting to go with Ellie even though he hasn’t cleared this plan with her yet.  One morning Aunt Bee discourages him from taking the woman for granted but he still drags his feet, even as his son excitedly brings up the neogriffithism 1.24 meeting Robertpossibility of marriage.  By the time he gets to the Sheriff’s office Aunt Bee’s words have sunk in and he crosses the street to invite Ellie to the social.  He puts it off once again when he sees that Ellie is busy getting acquainted with a new arrival in town, a young, handsome, unmarried doctor named Robert Benson.

At first Andy is unfazed by the potential romantic rival but Barney has suspicions.  After Andy’s repeated attempts to help Barney with his love life it’s time for Barney to return the favor.  He conspires with Aunt Bee to spy on the doctor and Ellie.  Under the pretense of an ordinary check-up he quizzes Robert about his life and intentions until he gets distracted by the doctors’ diagnosis of dangerously low blood pressure.  He’s still on the case, though, and when he spots Ellie and Robert walking into the drug store together he follows and eavesdrops on their conversation.  neogriffithism 1.24 a little Barney whispering in Andy's earHe overhears the part about Robert planning his forthcoming nuptials but misses the part about the fiance who isn’t Ellie.  He hurries to tell Andy what he’s heard and it finally gets a reaction out of him.  He rushes to the drug store to settle things.  He goes into a speech, as he is wont to do, about commitment and winds up proposing to Ellie.  Robert suggests a double wedding, which is a bit strange coming from a relative stranger, but it helps Andy put the puzzle pieces together.  As for Ellie, she recognizes that Andy isn’t acting like his usual levelheaded self and turns down his proposal, suggesting that they take things nice and slow.

Sidenotes

  • Andy hopes that Bobby Fleet’s Band with a Beat, the band Jim Lindsey joined in the third episode, will play at the social.  Whether they do or not, it will only be a few more episodes before Jim makes his return on the show.
  • Robert is played by Golden Globe winner George Nader, who is most famous for starring in the cult classic sci-fi/horror film Robot Monster.
  • The death of Opie’s mother isn’t directly mentioned but it’s hard not to think about it when he expresses excitement for a mother who has access to the pharmacy’s supply of ice cream.  It’s also hard to tell if that excitement is healthy or deeply worrying.
  • This episode feels like a predecessor to the kind of misunderstandings Don Knotts would later be involved in on Three’s Company.
  • Mayberry won’t be a small town much longer if it keeps getting all these new arrivals.  Ellie, Ed Sawyer, and the Boone’s have all relocated into town so far.

The Moral of the Story

In a way, this episode is a story about procrastination.  Andy puts off inviting Ellie to the social until it’s almost too late.  Once Robert arrives anyone can see that Andy feels insecure about his relationship with Ellie but he still doesn’t make his move.  He just let’s his fears seemingly play out before his eyes and hopes the problem will just go away.  Only when the confusion gets completely out of hand does he take action and then he behaves hastily and without sufficient information on the situation.  Waiting for a problem to solve itself proves to be an inefficient strategy.

Modern Mayberry

Someone used a gun to kill someone in America today.  Actually, almost one hundred people died at the end of a gun in the last 24 hours.  It happened yesterday as well, and the day before that and the day before that.  It will happen tomorrow and the day after.  There was a mass shooting three days ago, on October 1st, and it’s statistically likely that there will be another by the end of the year.  The most recent attack was the largest in American history.  Over fifty people were killed at a Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas.

America has the eleventh highest rate of gun deaths in the world and is one of the few developed nations in the list of twenty.  This problem isn’t going away.  We need to have a real, honest conversation about what we’re going to do about it.  We need to discuss ideas and solutions without screaming bumper stickers at each other.  Then we need, must, have to act.  But first we discuss, ask question, answer the questions that can be answered and make decisions.

Some might say that we shouldn’t politicize these attacks, that it is disrespectful to the deceased.  That’s just how procrastination works.  We put it off until later then it’s only a matter of time until it’s too late.  What’s more, putting off meaningful change until some perfect time that will probably never come could just as easily be seen as disrespectful, if not more so.  This problem won’t solve itself.  If we don’t take action action won’t be taken.  There will be another mass shooting in approximately 72 days.  Someone will be killed with a gun before you go to bed tonight.  This problem won’t solve itself.

What do you think Andy would do?

Andy and Opie Stick to What They’re Good At

The episode “Andy and Opie, Housekeepers” begins with Aunt Bee scolding Andy and Opie for being untidy.  Then she gets a call from Cousin Edgar, who informs her that another relative named Maude has come down with “the versitis.”  Aunt Bee is obligated to leave Andy and Opie so she can care after Maude, but that will require the two slovenly male Taylors to clean up after themselves.

In the beginning Andy and Opie have every intention of doing just that.  They get a quick start on the dishes, with Andy washing them and Opie air-drying them before he puts them neogriffithism 1.23 living room tentaway.  Mid-dish-washing Andy is called away on police business so he tells Opie to clean up his room in his absence.  With a little help from a friend Opie makes his bed then jumps up and down on it.

In the next few days things get out of hand.  The whole house is in a state of disarray.  There’s a tent in the living room which seems to be supported on one side by a rifle, which is more dangerous than it is messy.  When Aunt Bee calls and informs the boys that she will be returning that afternoon they clean things up as a fast as possible.  As they are basking in the glow of their newly clean home Opie expresses pride that they can get along without Aunt Bee.  That’s when Andy comes to the realization that Aunt Bee’s feelings will be hurt if she thinks she isn’t needed.  He and Opie then make short work of messing the house back up again.  As they are leaving to pick Aunt Bee up from the bus station they run into Clara Edwards, who peeks into the house and seeing the mess takes it upon herself to clean up while they are gone.

While Aunt Bee is simultaneously marveling at the cleanness of the living room and growing depressed at her supposed redundancy Opie sneaks up to his room and messes it up once again.  While Aunt Bee is busy catching Opie doing what she thinks is cleaning but is actually the opposite Andy does the same in the kitchen.  With Aunt Bee’s feelings spared Andy and Opie take pride in their slovenly excellence until Clara visits and is insulted that no one appreciates her help.

Side Notes

  • The Taylors are doing a bottle episode!  A “bottle episode” is what happens when a TV show needs to save money so they set a story almost exclusively in a single location, in this case the Taylor house.
  • “Versitis” is apparently a mispronunciation of “bursitis,” a condition that affects one’s joints and sounds quite painful.
  • This is the first appearance of Clara Edwards and the first mention of Mayberry’s sister city Mt. Pilot, both of which will become familiar presences on the show.
  • Clara has also been known to go by the name “Bertha Johnson.”

The Moral of the Story

“Andy and Opie, Housekeepers” focuses on Aunt Bee’s role in the Taylor household; her responsibilities, how she feels about those responsibilities, and the consequences of her absence.  She is charged with cleaning up after two people who rarely make the effort to clean up after themselves, a job that frustrates her but a job that belongs her to her, nonetheless.  She values her role and likes feeling needed, she likes knowing that she has an impact on Andy’s and Opie’s world.  When she is gone the house falls into disarray until Andy and Opie clean it up at the last minute, proving that Aunt Bee is very much needed, as much as she thinks she is, if not more.  Fortunately, Andy realizes Aunt Bee’s desire to feel needed before it’s too late, recognizing that desire as one that all of humanity shares.  We all want to make a difference in the world, whether it’s by cleaning a house or something on a larger scale.

Modern Mayberry

The calling to leave the world a better place than you found it doesn’t go away no matter how much money and success you have.  In 2016 Colin Kaepernick was in his sixth season with the San Francisco 49ers and likely had more money than the entire town of Mayberry, even when adjusted for inflation from whatever vaguely nostalgic time it exists in.  When he saw an injustice in the world he felt the need to fight against it.  Beginning as early as the preseason he stayed seated during the traditional performance of the National Anthem, rather than stand, as a protest against the reoccurring incidents of police officers killing unarmed black people and the lack of consequences for the officers in the aftermath of those killings.  Colin said “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color…  To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”  A few weeks later Colin decided to kneel rather than sit as a way of honoring veterans and those currently serving in the military while continuing his protest.

At the end of the 2016 season Colin became a free agent and still has not been hired to a new team of the third week of the 2017 season.  This weekend President Donald Trump criticized Colin and the handful of athletes who have followed his example.  Donald’s statement prompted even more athletes and other sports professionals to defend Colin and kneel or make a statement in other fashions, like Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers.

Some have argued that such a statement is not Colin’s or any other athlete’s to make and that they should “stick to football.”  However, as well as being a successful athlete Colin is also an American citizen.  He has as much right to be involved in the national conversation on an issue as anyone else does.  What’s more, his fame gives him a platform that not everyone else has and he has a responsibility to use it wisely.  How celebrities choose to use their platform is entirely their own individual decision; whether they want to speak on one issue, or many, or to stay silent.  Clearly, Colin has decided that staying silent is not an option for him.  He can’t  expect the problem of police violence to just go away anymore than the Taylor family can count on the house to clean itself (without Clara Edwards’ help).

Barney’s Toxic Masculinity

Andy and Ellie are on a double date with Barney and Thelma Lou when the former couple begin to snuggle up together but Barney and Thelma Lou are a little more hesitant.  Barney’s difficulty connecting with Thelma Lou on an intimate, emotional level neogriffithism 1.22 Barney and Thelma Lou on the couchleaves the woman disappointed and Andy is a little frustrated as well.  The next day at work Andy encourages Barney to tell his girlfriend how he feels, prompting the shy deputy to give a loving monologue about her with no one but Andy around.

Andy then takes it upon himself to repeat Barney’s words to Thelma Lou without his knowledge.  Thelma Lou uses her meeting with Andy to spark Barney’s emotions, specifically envy.  It works and Barney goes to Andy ready to engage in fisticuffs.  Naturally, Andy has no interest in fighting so Barney instead decides to meet the betrayal in kind.  He goes to the drug store and attempts to seduce Ellie using the tips that Andy gave him for flirting with Thelma Lou.  When Ellie rebuffs Barney’s advances he is left feeling doubly rejected, believing Andyneogriffithism 1.22 Barney's cool hair has won the affections of both women.  That’s when Ellie and Andy formulate a plan to drive Thelma Lou and Barney away from them and to each other.

Andy returns to Thelma Lou’s home and Ellie calls Barney to the drug store on the false pretense of an emergency then invites him into the back room.  Andy moves on Thelma Lou, claiming that when he previously spoke on Barney’s behalf he was really speaking of his own attraction to her.  Meanwhile, Ellie tells Barney that she was afraid before but is now ready to admit that she has fallen for his charms.  Barney leaves the drug store and goes to the Sheriff’s office to express his regret over stealing his friend’s girlfriend, regardless of Andy’s supposed betrayal.  As he is leaving that conversation Barney runs into Thelma Lou who tells him that he’s the only man for her, with or without his reluctance towards familiarity.

Fortunately, his reluctance seems to be gone.  The episode bookends with another double date, this time Barney is in a hurry to gets some alone time with Thelma Lou but Andy repeatedly interrupts his attempts to get closer to her.

Side Notes

  • When Barney is telling Andy how he feels about Thelma Lou there’s a great joke where Barney acts as if “you’re the cats” were equivalent to another three words, “I love you,” but the laugh track doesn’t play.  It makes for a much better moment.
  • Rock Hudson’s name is mentioned a few times.  Rock was friends with Jim Nabors, who will appear in future seasons as Gomer Pyle, until a joke gone wrong pushed them apart.
  • This is the first appearance of Thelma Lou, who will be Barney’s main love interest for the rest of the show.
  • Andy plays a game of checkers with Opie which could be seen as a metaphor for the game of strategy played between the two pairs of lovebirds.  This is a rare instance when checkers serves that purpose rather than chess.
  • The title comes from the 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac about matchmaking gone wrong.  I would have gone with “Andy Bergerac” but whatever.

The Moral of the Story

Barney Fife has a “toxic masculinity” problem.  His inability to be intimate with Thelma Lou comes from a fear of being vulnerable.  Even with his girlfriend, who he seems to be very close to and has known for a long time (although this is her first appearance on the show) he can’t bring himself to put his guard down.  “Toxic masculinity” is term for the expectations of men that can be harmful at extremes, like assertiveness, self-reliance, and emotional repression.  To a certain extent those aren’t necessarily bad things but at their most extreme they can lead to violence against others and internal misery and depression.  Toxic masculinity has been repeatedly linked to the higher suicide rates and overall shorter lifespan for men than women.  It is also partially to blame for America’s history of mass shootings.

Barney, of course, would never do anything like that.  However, he does have a tendency towards aggression and violence.  His aggression and violence tends to be fairly harmless and cartoonish but it still seems like those things could be connected to his emotional repression.  He hides his delicate, feminine emotions which only strengthens the dangerous masculine feelings.  He hesitates to be intimate with his girlfriend but the very moment he feels betrayed by Andy he’s ready to fist fight his best friend.  Soon after that he turns up the machismo when he hits on Ellie; he treats her as a prize that can be won with the right hair and the right words, and sees her as an extension of Andy that can be used to hurt him rather than as a complete person in her own right.  He’s more comfortable physically fighting his best friend and pretending to be attracted to someone he’s not than he is being honest about his feelings with someone he really cares about.

It’s telling that Barney is comfortable expressing his feelings around Andy but not Thelma Lou.  That could be because he’s expressing his feelings about Thelma Lou but it could also be because he’s intimidated by her.  It calls to mind the oft-quoted line from author Margeret Atwood: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them.  Women are afraid that men will kill them.”  It might sound silly to fear being laughed at, especially compared to murder, but fear is rarely rational, a fact doesn’t make what you’re afraid of any less scary.  Once again, the male fear of being humiliated or emasculated is linked to violence, especially against women.

You might be wondering “what does all this have to do with politics?”  You might say “can’t you at least tie it back to the president like you usually do?”  Then you might say “never mind, I see it now.”  Men, including Barney and especially you-know-who, could benefit from gender equality, almost as much as women but that would require them to embrace vulnerability and femininity, which they are deathly afraid of.

What do you think Andy would do?

Andy the Well-Informed Citizen

The average Mayberrian criminal tends to be pretty harmless, a fact that makes the arrival of a hardened big league rapscallion quite exciting.  The state police decide to neogriffithism 1.21 story time with Andyleave “Gentleman” Dan Caldwell, a smooth criminal with a Clark Gable mustache in the custody of the Mayberry Sheriff’s Department for a short time on his way to meet justice in Atlanta.

Deputy Barney Fife is thrilled to have such a renowned felon in his custody.  Before he arrives he puts in the effort to tidy up the cell and even kicks a hungover Otis to the curb to make Dan’s stay as comfortable as possible.  Upon their meeting Barney and Dan make fast friends.  Before long Dan charms Aunt Bee and Opie as well.  Aunt Bee puts on her best hat and steps up her culinary game for the prisoner while Opie loses interest in hearing Andy’s folksy neogriffithism 1.21 Dan looking creepyfairy tales, preferring Dan’s thrilling yarns of his and his criminal comrade’s derring-do.  Despite his trusting nature Andy is the only one who sees through Dan.

During a friendly game of cards between Barney and Dan the crook makes his move.  He grabs Barney’s gun and heads for the door.  His escape is interrupted by Opie and Aunt Bee, who he tries to corral into the jail cell.  Before that can happen Andy makes his entrance.  He sees that neogriffithism 1.21 Andy's shock when gun firesDan has Barney’s gun and quickly surmises that he has the upper hand.  Andy dares Dan to pull the trigger, assuming that Barney’s only bullet is safely tucked away in the deputy’s pocket.  That assumption is incorrect but luck is still on Andy’s side.  Dan fires the gun in the air to no results a few times before giving up and letting Andy lead him back into the cell.  Andy can’t help but show off by pulling the trigger one more time, shooting the ceiling with the bullet that wasn’t supposed to be there.

Sidenotes

  • Dan Tobin, the actor behind Dan Caldwell, was a fairly prominent character actor.  He appeared in The Fountain of Youth, an anomaly of a TV pilot directed by Orson Welles that failed to become a series but won a Peabody award anyway.
  • It’s always nice to see the Mayberry Sheriff’s Department and the North Carolina State Police getting along  after a bumpy start to their relationship.

The Moral of the Story

Dan Caldwell is a grade-A con-man; his trade is using people’s trust against them and for his own benefit.  With charm and a wry smile he gains people’s affection then cashes that in for whatever he can get, with no concern to speak of for the people he has baited.  Dan flatters and seduces Barney to get his gun and the keys to the cell and pulls Opie and Aunt Bee into his magnetic field just in case they can be of service as well.  Despite his trusting, easy-going ways Andy isn’t as easily swayed and in the end he is proven right.  It’s good to trust people but Andy knows there are some circumstances when it’s necessary to keep his guard up.

Modern Mayberry

We’ve previously discussed the importance of putting one’s trust in the right place.  It’s equally important to know who not to trust.  Not long ago the term “fake news” was used to refer to blatant falsehoods masquerading as news.  Now it has been contorted by the President to describe any negative opinions of him or factual reporting of his objectively negative aspects.  Still, actual “fake news” is a very real problem and it’s important to be able to recognize it.  In order to be a well-informed society it is pivotal that we are informed not just on the content of the news but in the best methods of ingesting that content.  For that purpose, here are some tips on improving your news consumption.

  1. Google things.  If something you hear or read sounds fishy you might want to do a quick search.  If multiple sources that are respectable and that you personally trust are reporting the same thing than it’s more likely to be true.  If a story only exists on fringe websites then it’s probably a good idea to be very skeptical.  If it’s confirmed by a well-known fact checker like Snopes then it’s almost definitely a sure thing.
  2. Trust the major news providers over the fringes.  I understand the appeal of underdogs and outsiders but journalism is an industry that revolves around reputation and the big names know that.  Any reporter worth their salt takes their reputation seriously, as do editors and publishers.  Publishing something that isn’t true in service of one’s personal biases would ruin a serious journalists reputation, and thus their career.  No one becomes a hard news reporter for the Washington Post unless the most skeptical and cynical people in the world think they’re honest and reliable.
  3. Understand journalists methods.  Distrust in the press is as old as the press itself, which is pretty old.  In that time the field, like any other, has developed certain rules and guidelines.  For instance, in a similar way to how you should get your news from multiple sources news providers don’t run a story unless their information comes from several reliable direct sources.  I recommend browsing the American Press Institute website for a better understanding of how journalists operate and how they can do better.

The most important thing you can do when it comes to reading or writing the news is to approach it with a curious and skeptical attitude, but not necessarily cynical.  There’s a lot of good reporting being done but sometimes you might have to do some work to find it.  If you don’t have the time to put a lot of work into your news diet there are some pretty easily accessible and reliable options.  You can almost always trust your local newspaper, Raleigh’s News and Observer is quite good, and the nightly news on a network like ABC or NBC is always a good way to get a quick rundown of the day’s events.

What do you think Andy would do?

Politically Correct Barney

When the cat’s away the mice will play.  If Barney Fife is a mouse his idea of play is to arrest all the other mice for minor infractions in a single day.  When Andy takes an eight-hour trip to Centerville to testify in an unspecified court case he leaves Barney as acting neogriffithism 1.20 Barney surveys his kingdomsheriff.  Naturally, Barney is excited to make the most of this opportunity.  Before Andy is even out the door he is considering breaking out the department’s tear gas and riot gun.  Andy manages to talk him down from those extremes, which may not even be available considering they’ve gone so long without use, but all of Barney’s enthusiasm has to go somewhere.

By the time Andy gets back from his trip half the town is locked up in the jail, nearly all of them charged with minor crimes (if you can even call them crimes) that they commit every day.  An old man named Jud was arrested for disturbing the peace when he raised his voice over a game of checkers, Aunt Bee was arrested for unlawful assembly because she and her friends were gossiping in front of the court house, and Mayor Pike was arrested for “vagrancy and loitering.”

Barney’s exuberance makes him the laughing stock of the town.  He can hardly spend a minute in Floyd’s barber shop without being mercilessly teased.  The shame proves too much for the deputy to bear.  He falls into a deep depression and stops taking care of neogriffithism 1.20 dejected Barneyhimself.  At one point he walks into Andy’s office with a shadow on his jaw and his normally neat attire in a state of untidiness.  Seeing the need to lift Barney’s spirits Andy goes to his friend’s girlfriend Hilda Mae for insight.  She tells him about her own attempts to cheer Barney up and gives him an idea.  He figures that Barney’s bullies only need to be reminded of how much the deputy means to them so he spreads the word that he is going to fire Barney out of embarrassment.

Everyone Barney previously arrested streams into the jail by their own will and thank neogriffithism 1.20 newly proud Barney and full cellsBarney for locking them up in the first place, claiming that he was right to take his job so seriously and admonishing Andy for letting them off so easy.  With the town’s support Barney perks right up and returns to his old self.  By the end of the episode he is criticizing Andy for his unprofessional attire, to the point that the sheriff puts himself in jail before his deputy can beat him to it.

Sidenotes

  • It isn’t a central theme of the episode but we are reminded of Andy’s relativist views of morality when he tells Barney that he is too adherent to the rules of law.
  • Hilda Mae’s flashback to her date with Barney is a nice touch.  It’s not a technique that we’ve seen in the show before.
  • Episodes directed by Bob Sweeney, like this one and “Ellie for Council” for instance, tend to have more cinematic flair than most.
  • Centerville is about three hours from Griffith’s hometown, Mt. Airy, give or take.
  • A woman named Nellie who is arrested by Barney and is told she has a nice dress by Andy would go on to appear in over thirty more episodes as an extra.

The Moral of the Story

Much like “The Guitar Player” and “Andy the Matchmaker” this episode is largely about the importance of self-esteem.  However, this time the focus is more on the role that outside influences play in shaping a person’s self-image.  It’s less about Barney and more about his neighbors who at first fail to forgive him and choose instead to mock and deride him.  In the end nothing really changes for Barney, in fact his bad behavior is rewarded.  The rest of the town, on the other hand, learns that their words can hurt.

Modern Mayberry

Not too long ago “it’s good to be sensitive to other people’s feelings” wasn’t a very controversial statement.  Then somewhere along the way someone started calling “being sensitive to other people’s feelings” by another name: “political correctness.”  When you call it that it doesn’t sound as good.  People like feelings, everyone has them, but politics aren’t as popular.

In recent years criticizing political correctness has ironically become a good way to garner political brownie points, especially on the right.  In the early days of his campaign one of the most common talking points about then candidate Donald Trump was his total lack of political correctness.  People said that he was a “straight shooter” who “tells it like it is,” but really he was just a jerk and a bully.  Because Donald won by being crude and unkind the right has become convinced that they can say whatever they want, no matter how insensitive, cruel or stupid, without consequence.

Last month the commission of Alamance County, North Carolina met to discuss the idea of removing Confederate monuments.  In the meeting Commissioner Tim Sutton took a stand against political correctness when he said “I am not ashamed of my great-grandfather… he did what he did.  It is my understanding that when he died, from Sarah, my grandmother, that some guys on the farm, you can call them slaves if you want to, but I would just call them workers, that they raised a good bit of my family.”  Tim’s family apparently owned slaves and not only does he think that’s a-ok but he thinks calling them “slaves,” which is what slaves are called, is too politically correct.

However, it is possible for political correctness to go too far, or at least the enforcement of political correctness via public shaming.  I often think of Steve Martin’s tweet in honor of Carrie Fisher after her death.  He wrote “When I was a young man, Carrie Fisher was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.  She turned out to be witty and bright as well.”  The tweet was criticized for giving too much attention to Carrie’s appearance and Steve later deleted it.  Given that Steve and Carrie ran in the same circle of New York musicians, comedians, and other artists in the 1970’s it’s safe to assume they were friends for roughly forty years.  Fisher herself once claimed that they may or may not have been closer than friends at one point.  Despite all of this Steve was pressured into taking down his eulogy because it upset total strangers, most of who probably hadn’t been alive as long as Steve and Carrie had known each other.

That’s just one very specific example, though, and Steve’s words don’t at all resemble the hate speech that comes from Donald and the far right.  Frankly, this isn’t a complicated issue.  It’s good to be nice.  That isn’t too much to expect from our leaders, especially those whose jobs require diplomacy like the President.  If an entire town can put itself in jail to save one man’s pride then maybe we can all just try to consider other people’s feelings before we speak.  And maybe we shouldn’t elect a cyberbully to be President of the United States.

What do you think Andy would do?

Andy and Fake News

For a small town where nothing ever happens Mayberry sure has a lot of brushes with fame.  In “Mayberry on Record” a music producer arrives in search of authentic folk music.  Andy is quick to suggest his own bluegrass band along with a list of other local talent to the produneogriffithism 1.19 testing the recordercer, Mr. Maxwell.  As Maxwell goes around town recording musicians he assures the skeptics that they stand to make a lot of money as performers if the record is a hit.  He does such a good job that they jump at the chance to further invest in the venture, especially Barney, who has been considering trying his hand at the stock market.

When Andy learns that his friends have been giving away their money to this stranger he becomes suspicious.  The investors, including Barney, Floyd, and Ellie, trust Maxwell and think Andy’s skepticism is misplaced.  When Maxwell suddenly disappears all of them but Ellie come around to Andy’s point of view and are convinced that he’s a rat.  Andy and Barney get busy figuring out how to bring this alleged criminal to justice with more help than they asked for from Floyd and the boys.  Ellie is appalled by the men’s distrust but they remain certain that they’ve been conned.

To Ellie’s delight Maxwell walks into the drug store after a jaunt to Richmond with a record contract and an advance for $5,000.  She leads him to the Sheriff’s office where neogriffithism 1.19 Wall Street Barneythe fellas are planning their manhunt.  Seeing that Maxwell has returned makes them proud to have caught a stupid crook who has returned to the scene of the crime.  Then Andy reads the contract and sees the check, leaving him with his mouth agape in surprise and embarrassment as the other men celebrate and applaud him for his contributions on the record.

Sidenotes

  • It’s nice to see that Andy finally got one of those magnetic maps he so coveted in “The Manhunt.”
  • I’m beginning tho think that Andy’s encouragement for Jim Lindsey to follow his dreams of being a successful musician was his way of living vicariously through the guitarist.
  • Andy’s camera shy bluegrass band is made up of members of the real group known as The Country Boys.
  • Hugh Marlowe, the actor who plays Mr. Maxwell, appeared alongside Francis Bavier, who is not in this episode, in the sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still.

The Moral of the Story

Once again an outsider unjustly earns the ire of Mayberry’s citizenship but this time Andy is leading the charge rather than defending the stranger.  Fortunately, Ellie is there to serve as the voice of reason.  Perhaps her experience as a newcomer who has faced the wrath of Mayberry’s mob mentality she is sensitive to Maxwell’s position.  She knows that the evidence against him is thin and he deserves the benefit of the doubt.  Even with Ellie’s advocacy Andy and the others refuse to trust Maxwell but in the end they realize the error of their cynicism.

Modern Mayberry

Here’s a fun fact: every time I’ve seen the title “Mayberry on Record” before actually watching the episode I’ve figured it was about a bit shot journalist coming to town.  Oddly enough, if you replaced the music producer with a reporter you could have almost the same story with the same theme of trust.

Thanks to President Donald Trump many people are questioning their faith in the free press.  He is famously not a fan of what he calls “the fake news,” even going so far as to call the media “the enemy of the American people.”  Of course, the President does have members of the news media that he likes; Sean Hannity and the team at Fox and Friends come to mind.  It’s important to note that Hannity and Fox and Friends are not straight news shows but are more the cable news equivalent of a newspaper’s “Editorial” section.  They are not reliable sources of facts but of opinions, opinions which tend to be favorable of Donald.

 

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with the President appreciating those who have positive opinions of him.  I wouldn’t expect much different from any politician or public figure.  The bigger problem is Donald’s demonizing of all the rest of the media, opinions and objective facts alike.  At a recent rally in Phoenix Donald accused the media of making up stories and ignoring facts, citing as an example the media response to his reaction to the conflict between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville.  Donald said that the media failed to report his statements condemning bigotry and hatred.  However, the very statements Donald referenced were reported accurately, objectively and in plentiful detail by The Washington Post, and the New York Times, and CNN, and ABC and just about every news organization big or small.  Donald’s real problem is with the litany of opinions that his statements were a day late and a dollar short, but he doesn’t make that distinction, he simply dismisses the entire body of the press as if having a negative opinion about him is the same as telling a lie.

I’m not the only one concerned about the blurring line between facts and opinions.  Earlier this year, on CBS News Sunday Morninglegendary news anchor Ted Koppel expressed a doubt that Sean Hannity’s audience could tell the difference.  Bear in mind that until recently FOX News bore the slogan “Fair and Balanced,” even though roughly half or more of their airtime is devoted to opinion, opinion which often skews to the right.  FOX and Donald want people to believe that their opinions are factually correct and anyone who disagrees is lying.  None of this is meant to condemn the opinions expressed on FOX News, (there are certainly many on the political left who would like you to believe that their opinions are set in stone and any contradiction is a lie, although I’ve never seen a  liberal President call any news organization that contradicted his lies “fake news”) but it’s important for journalistic outlets as well as audiences to make the distinction between straight news and opinion as clear as possible.  A little curiosity and even skepticism towards the media can be healthy but at some point you have to trust someone and it helps to know who is telling the facts and who is sharing their feelings.  You certainly don’t want to wrongly accuse innocent, upstanding people like Maxwell of deception.

What do you think Andy would do?

Andy and the Confederate Monuments

Andy and Barney are called in to settle a domestic dispute and wind up as amateur therapists.  The Boones, Fred and Jennie, are recent transplants to Mayberry and they fit in just fine.  They get along famously with everyone but each other.  When Andy and neogriffithism 1.18 throwing thingsBarney get a call and arrive at the Boones’ home they find dinnerware flying around like a flock of birds trying to escape.  After ducking and diving their way to the couple Andy and Barney manage to calm them down and leave them with a warning that if they don’t stop disturbing the peace they’ll be brought into the jailhouse.

The next morning Barney brings them in.  Realizing that putting the two in neighboring cells won’t help anything Andy decides to tutor them on the ways of a well-mannered marriage himself.  He starts with “good morning” them moves on to “good morning, honey.”  Before long the Boones start to seem less like the Honeymooners and more like the Cleavers.

Aunt Bee praises Andy for encouraging habitual kindness.  Reveling in his success, Andy tries similar methods to get Opie to stop fighting with his friend.  He promises the boys a nickel apiece for each playdate when they don’t try to strangle each other.  The boys andneogriffithism 1.18 counseling the adults all begin to get along but there are unforeseen side effects.  The boys lose interest in playing together at all because it’s not as much fun if you have to be nice.  The Boones seem content in their polite domesticity but the anger they used to reserve for each other is now directed at everyone else.

Andy tells Opie he will no longer give out nickels for good behavior and he and Billy can go back to playing rough.  He then visits the Boones and instigates an argument so as to reconstitute the status quo.

neogriffithism 1.18 judoIn between Andy’s Skinner-esque experiments he helps Barney train himself in Judo.  Andy comes at him with a pretend knife and Barney attempts to disarm his boss.  Unfortunately, Andy just can’t seem to get his stabbing technique right so that Barney can stop him.

Sidenotes

  • Andy is presumably passing on the lessons in a happy marriage that he learned from his late wife.
  • Jesse White, the actor who plays Fred Boone, went on to work with Don Knotts again in The Reluctant Astronaut.  He is most famous for originating the role of the Maytag Repairman.

The Moral of the Story

Andy assumes that all fighting is wrong.  He tries to get the Boones to be polite to each other and breaks up Opie’s fights with his friend.  He soon discovers that a little conflict can be necessary.  The Boones need to get their frustrations out somehow and they seem to be content or even happy being each other’s punching bags.  Opie and Billy don’t like being around each other at all unless they can wrestle.  However, it’s important for everyone involved to fight well.  If either Fred or Jennie were in real danger from the other Andy surely would have handled things differently and he knows the boys will always be safe as long as their roughhousing happens under his own roof.  Fighting might be necessary but fighting poorly is a choice, which is why Barney is working to fine tune his martial artistry.

Modern Mayberry

Our current political discourse is pretty brutal, to put it lightly.  We’ve been sliding into a radicalism for decades, especially Republicans (to be fair, it would be odd if the “conservative” party didn’t go a little nuts in an era of rapid technological and cultural change like ours).  No one wants to admit when they’re wrong, especially to themselves, so we double down on potentially misguided beliefs.  As our conviction grows so does our resentment for people who disagree with us.  So we demonize them and push them farther away, inviting them to do the same and once again redoubling their convictions as well as our own.  We have to learn to understand each other’s beliefs and motives in all their complexity and with at least a little sympathy.  Let’s take the debate over the Confederate flag and memorials for instance.

If you’re not black, imagine that you are.  Imagine that all your life you’ve seen movies where people like you are viciously beaten and killed, whether on plantations in 1860 or on bridges in 1965 or any time in between, before or after, and every time the people doing the beating and killing seem to be standing behind the same flag, the flag of the nation that was formed and fought a war with the express purpose of keeping people like you, including your very own blood relatives, enslaved.  How willing would you be to listen to someone who wore that flag today?

Now, if you’re not a young white person from the rural South, imagine that you are.  Imagine that you, like every teenager, are in search of an identity.  You like hunting and fishing and grits and sweet tea and old TV shows about quaint towns in the rural South so you begin to take pride in Southern culture.  You avoid anything having to do with the South’s legacy of racism but then your history teacher tells the class that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery at all but about state’s rights.  Now you’re free to take pride in your culture’s long history without thinking of yourself as racist because why would your history teacher lie to you?  How willing would you be to listen to someone who calls you racist because you wear that flag?

I’m not saying both sides are right.  The Civil War was definitely about slavery and the Confederate flag is a symbol of the wrong side of that war.  Any other interpretation is a real stretch.  Nor am I saying that our imaginary teenager is perfectly innocent.  In the modern age when nearly all known information is readily available he bears some responsibility to do some research on this controversial topic.  I’m saying the best way to convince someone that they’re wrong is to do it nicely, to give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their motives.  Even the history teacher honestly believes what he’s saying, he’s not trying to brainwash anyone to join his neo-Confederate cause.  He has also fallen down the rabbit hole of misplaced pride.

It’s important that our society is capable of having an open and honest conversation about race and other important topics.  Pushing each other away and diving deeper into our “bubbles” doesn’t make anything better.  Many experts believe that when someone is afraid to express their opinions those beliefs harden and it can contribute to radicalization.  It might be too late to change some people’s minds but some can be reached with a little patience and understanding.  No one ever said you could catch all the flies but honey works better than vinegar.  It’s vital that we have these important conversations, these fights, as a society and to do it well.  Otherwise we’ll wind up like the Boones, lashing out in anger, never solving the problem, just throwing dishes again and again.  Instead, we should be like Barney and teach ourselves the right ways to fight (surely it would end better for us than it did for him.)

Andy and the Good Intentions

It was only a matter of time before we got around to exploring Mayberry’s seedy underground.  The story begins when Barney interrupts Andy and Floyd’s post-haircut ritual to tell Andy he’s hot on the trail of an illegal still.  When the two lawmen are on the way to bust up the operation they are stopped by a pair of elderly women.  The Morrison sisters, Jennifer and Clarabelle, tell them that Barney is mistaken and point them in the direction of a still they know to exist.  Andy and Barney successfully arrest the moonshiner and destroy his still.  When they visit the Morrison sisters to thank them for their help the ladies have another tip for them.

With two moonshiners in custody and both of their stills broken Andy and Barney think they’ve eradicated intoxicants from the region until Otis stumbles in.  Realizing they have more work to do they get down to business.  Otis proves his mettle and refuses to snitch so they’re on their own.  They spread out a map and try to figure out the most probable location of the third still.  Fortunately, they get another tip from an unlikely source.  Opie comes in after picking flowers in the Morrison sisters’ garden to give to his teacher.  He claims the Morrison’s have the best flowers and attributes their horticultural success to a “flower machine.”

It turns out that the charming old biddies have been running their own still out of their greenhouse and their helpful tips to the police were a way of getting rid of the neogriffithism 1.17 the still in the greenhousecompetition.  They justified their actions with a belief that their moonshine was intended only for celebrations while the other two were selling moonshine intended for drinking.  It didn’t seem to occur to them that Otis and their other customers weren’t really invested in Bastille Day or National Potato Week.

Barney takes an ax and hacks the still apart, causing its contents to spray all over nearby Andy.  The ladies seemingly realize the error of their ways and go straight, entering a new business venture selling preserves; preserves which happen to have a staggering alcohol content.

Sidenotes

  • Andy says Mayberry is a dry county but in the Christmas episode Ben Weaver says that he sells “spirits” in his department store.
  • Floyd gets Andy’s sideburns even.  Floyd’s first appearance (when he was played by a different actor) established that he struggles with sideburns.
  • One of the sisters’ customers claims he is celebrating Muhammad’s birthday.  It’s nice to see elderly ladies in a small town be tolerant of Islamic practices, even if the practitioner is faking it.

The Moral of the Story

To draw any sort of lesson from this episode we have to take it as given that making, selling, and drinking alcohol is unethical, whether you or I believe that is true or not.  The Morrison Sisters believe it is true, but they have convinced themselves that they are doing nothing wrong when they make and sell alcohol themselves.  They believe they’re actions are better than those of the other moonshiners because alcohol for “drinking purposes” is wrong but alcohol for the occasional holiday is fine.  They have used a razor thin difference of intention to justify their actions.

Modern Mayberry

This month the North Carolina congress is taking steps to correct an egregious wrongdoing; they are making new election maps to correct the rampant gerrymandering that has plagued the state.  North Carolina’s electoral maps have been criticized for giving Republicans an unfair advantage and for specifically diminishing the votes of black people.  In February last year a federal court ruled that the criticisms were correct and in May this year the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that ruling.  Republicans, who were responsible for drawing the maps and have profited the most from them, deny the accusations, or at least part of them.  Representative David Lewis, chairman of the state House Select Committee on Redistricting, promised that race was not a concern in drawing the districts but acknowledged that political advantage was.  “We want to make clear that we … are going to use political data in drawing this map… It is to gain partisan advantage on the map … I want that criteria to be clearly stated and understood.”

So there you have it, everything is fine.  David Lewis wants us all to know that he didn’t mean to be racist.  He corrupt actions aren’t racially corrupt, just regular, power hungry corrupt.  It’s just a coincidence that black people were disproportionately affected because they tend to vote Democrat.  They were merely unavoidable casualties in the Republican Party’s battle for power.  And of course, it’s an inexplicable phenomenon that black people are Democrats more often than not.  It’s almost as mysterious as the time North Carolina Republicans drafted voter ID laws that targeted black people with “almost surgical precision.”  Or as random as when former Republican Senator and current Attorney General Jeff Sessions “used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters” according to Coretta Scott King.

It should go without saying that the President of the United States, who is a Republican, has never, ever intended to be racist.  All those years Donald spent accusing President Obama, the first black President, of lying about his American citizenship even after he publicly released his birth certificate were nothing but a pure and patriotic quest for the truth.  And when he decided to run for President himself and started his campaign by falsely claiming that the majority of undocumented Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals he was just saying what everyone else who believes that racist lie was thinking.  And when he banned immigration from seven countries full of brown people he did so honestly and truly believing that every single one of them was a potential threat to America because wouldn’t that be just the kind of strange coincidence we’ve seen so much of lately?  And when white supremacists marched on an American university, killing a woman named Heather Heyer, he really meant to admonish the Nazis, and just the Nazis, and certainly he didn’t intend to claim the fault lied on “many sides.”  It’s just that the words “Nazis are evil” didn’t feel right coming out his mouth for some inexplicable reason.  He just felt more comfortable saying that everyone, including the people standing up to the white supremacists, were to blame.  All he needed was two days for specifically condemning neo-Nazis to come to him more naturally.  You can’t possibly demand someone in his position to call neo-Nazis evil on the same day that neo-Nazis publicly commit an act of evil.  Also, you have to give him room to take back his reluctant condemnation of neo-Nazis the day after that.

Do you see?  It’s just random happenstance that people of color don’t vote Republican, which is why when North Carolina Republicans tried to persecute Democrats they accidentally persecuted black people the most.  Even though these things might seem racist and corrupt it’s just an illusion.  They certainly weren’t intended that way.

What do you think Andy would do?