A Pilgrimage and Pooping at a Monolith | Opinion | Salt Lake City

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OK, you monolith lovers, look what you’ve done. You have pooped all over the desert. This is the kind of s–t you can expect from people. The mysterious monolith in the Southern Utah desert was unknown until a state helicopter team spotted it in a small, remote drainage, placed there, no doubt, by aliens. (It appears on Google Earth in 2016.) As if seeking Mecca, the pilgrimage was on—followed by pooping, as though to bless or pay homage to the obelisk. Fortunately, four wise men from Moab tore out the mysterious marker before the fragile desert ecology was lain asunder by—you guessed it—poop. Coincidentally or not, strange monoliths appeared in California and Romania, leading some to believe it was a marketing scam of some kind. Faster than you can say, monolithists without lisping, an anti-monolith group sprouted up, making all kinds of claims—but none about mail-in voting. Nonetheless, why would aliens need a marketing scheme when they’ve got Rudy Giuliani? It’s all strangely similar to Stanley Kubrick’s film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, where apes gather around a cryptic obelisk, leading the staff here at Smart Bomb to conclude the similarities with Utah are not accidental. There is just one sticking point—the apes didn’t poop there.

The Utah Space Force Reserves Wants You!
For cool. Utah may soon be on the ground floor of the U.S. Space Force (cue the Star Wars music) and you, yes you, could be part of it if Utah Representative-elect Jefferson Burton, R-Utah County, gets his way and makes it part of the state code creating the Utah Space Force Reserve. This should give you goose bumps almost equal to those when Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann announced they could produce “cold fusion” in a Best Foods mayonnaise jar—at room temperature, no less. The Legislature quickly created the National Cold Fusion Institute at the University of Utah (it really did happen), but alas, no one, not even Stanley and Martin, could reproduce the miracle and the institute died a very slow, embarrassing and expensive death. But that won’t be the fate of the Utah Space Force Reserve because this state has a lot of computers and patriotic men and women who want to defend us from aliens, the Chinese and Facebook. “When it comes to defending America,” Burton told The Salt Lake Tribune, “it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American domination in space.” Sounds kinda like Donald Trump, doesn’t he? What could possibly go wrong?

American Religion: God And Guns
Hold on to your Bible and Glock, there is a connection between God and guns in America (honest to Buddha). People want a feeling of existential security, and religions have historically provided that in very powerful ways, sociologist David Yamane told the Deseret News. For many Americans, firearms do the same, he added. Ah ha, that’s why we have 400 million firearms in this country—because we’re so damned religious, not to mention Christ-like. Before men shoot their wives, they say stuff like, may God be with you. Wilson and the band can’t seem to make the connection. But get this: One week after the 2018 mass shooting at Parkland, Florida, NRA firebrand Wayne LaPierre said, “The right to bear arms is not bestowed by man, but granted by God to all Americans …” So, what about those people slaughtered at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School: Was that God’s will? No surprise then that Christian nationalists don’t want government messing with their guns. Andrew Whitehead, a sociologist and author, told the DNews that a common belief among them is: “Only by turning the U.S. into a Christian nation will we see gun violence decrease.” Because then all the good guys will have killed all the bad guys. In the name of Wayne LaPierre, amen.

Postscript—That was the week that was—but where to begin? Trump is holding the nation hostage, and most Republicans are abetting his alternative reality that has swept up a good number of Americans with it. How they can believe a massive conspiracy cost Trump the election by a significant margin is hard to grasp. But Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels said this: “Repeat a lie often enough, and it becomes the truth.” Until now, we could never understand why the Germans got behind Adolf Hitler. Now we know. It’s a rude awakening to realize that almost half of the electorate voted for a man who couldn’t give two shits about democracy. If they don’t believe that Trump is absolutely insane by now, they never will. And, so it goes. Some 280,000 Americans have now died of COVID, and the models suggest that number could be 400,000 by March. Still, many Americans have a devil-may-care attitude, oblivious that they could be spreading the deadly virus. Freedom to be crazy is bumping head-on into democracy. As he walked out of the Second Continental Congress in 1787, Benjamin Franklin said: You’ve got “a republic if you can keep it.”

Well Wilson, this is a fine mess we find ourselves in. What can you and guys give us to bolster our spirits in these dark days of winter?

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

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In the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an’ blind, tolling for the mute
For the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an’ cheated by pursuit
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

“Chimes of Freedom”—Bob Dylan



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