We need a new boogeyman

Dick George

January 23, 1992|By Dick George

NOW THAT it looks like communism really has done the big el foldo in the Soviet Union, I say it's time at last to recognize all the good things communism did for us.

For instance, communism was our national boogeyman. We never knew when those nutbuckets in the Kremlin were going to jump out at us and go "Boo!"

So naturally we've all been scared to death, and that's good,because if you're not scared out of your mind about half the time, you never get anything done.

Without the commie threat, would we have had the space race? Heck, no.

No space race means no satellites. No satellites, no cable TV. No cable TV, no Gladiator Mud Wrestling Love Connection Shopping Network.

In other words, no culture! And no progress! If it weren't for communism, we'd still be watching three channels in black and white, and we'd probably have to walk all the way across the darn room to change channels, too, because remote control was a byproduct of the space race, like so many other important advances, including Tang.

Aside from all that, having a national boogeyman is pretty darn essential for scapegoating. Everything could be blamed on commie plots, and that was real convenient. Rock 'n' roll music . . . dirty books . . . even fluoridated water.

Yep, a lot of people thought those godless reds were hell-bent on preventing tooth decay until we cried "uncle."

That was the great thing about commie plots -- they didn't have to make sense. And they were so handy. How else could you explain chicken hot dogs? Or the designated hitter rule?

So you can see, communism did us a lot of good, and I think we'd better get us a new boogeyman right away because this is an opening you don't want to leave too long.

No, Helen Bentley, not the Japanese. They've already had a turn, and besides, it's hard to work up much paranoia for a country with no military. What are they going to do? Refuse to honor the warranties on their VCRs? The darn things never break, anyway.

OK, I'll grant you this: They know our population is aging, so they're intentionally making the print on their darn electronics so small you can't tell fast forward from fast backward. And we all know what they do with those World War II vets they find living in caves in Borneo. That's right. They don't tell them the war is over, and they get them writing instruction booklets for remote-control stereo receivers. Banzai!

All that is undeniably true.

Nevertheless, we need someone more formidable as our national boogeyman, and I nominate aliens from outer space.

OK, maybe they're not observing us and assuming human form and walking and working among us while they sabotage our way of life in preparation for taking us over. But you don't know that for sure. How else do you explain the plastic wrap stuff that folds over on itself and sticks together in a wad while you're in a hurry to wrap your kid's sandwich before he misses the school bus?

You think stuff like that is an accident? You think somebody or some thing isn't behind a plot to get us so crazy we'll be pushovers for conquest?

Boy, are you naive!

Dick George, who lives in Baldwin, is a former writer for Maryland Public Television.

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