The Charge of the Gadarene Swine

By John Zmirak Published on August 21, 2020

When current events are so insane he thinks he’ll go crazy just reporting on them straight, a writer is tempted to satire. That’s a dangerous genre these days. Our enemies have gone so plumb crazy that it’s actually hard to satirize them. A few times here I’ve written satires of the crackpot extremes to which the left might go—only to see them actually do so a few weeks later. (See my Coronavirus Story Hour idea for nursing homes, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to have read and mistaken for a solid policy plan.)

Other times you write a satire that’s only 110% as crazy as the real things the other side said. I did that about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. What can go wrong there? Well-intentioned readers can miss the “Satire” label. They read something that sounds … not appreciably more bonkers than the politician’s real views and statements. So they angrily comment on it, and forward it to their friends — and are later embarrassed.

A Satire Warning Is a Spoiler

Of course you can boldly label the piece with a warning “SATIRE” in the title. The outcome there? Nobody reads it, since most satires are failures. Even the good ones don’t do good business. The old line about this genre on Broadway was, “The definition of ‘Satire’: A show that opens on Wednesday and closes on Saturday.”

On rare occasions an outlet finds a way to get away with it. The old Saturday Night Live, the current Onion, and The Babylon Bee come to mind — though the last one is constantly fending off efforts to ban it from social media as “fake news.” Satire from the right, you see, is “a slur.”

Watching reports from the Democrat convention of Barack Obama finger-wagging at us about civics, while his party burns down our cities and threatens civil war if Zombie Biden loses … I’m close to losing it too.

Down, Down the Slippery Slope to the Sea

And so I’m driven to the last resort of the outraged: poetic parody. In several columns I’ve spoken of the left charging down the “slippery slope” of its own bad ideas. From the Pill to abortion to infanticide to gay marriage to throuples to furries to legitimizing pedophilia … and down we go to destruction, like the herd of Gadarene swine. And so on, for every issue where the left has chosen bad premises false to human nature, and relentlessly pressed each one to its logical extreme. Sometimes reading about the Democrats I can actually hear the trotters of the Gadarene swine pounding, pounding toward the sea.

So I chose to write this up, in the form of a parody of a great English poem. So my hard work isn’t wasted, I’ll post the original first, with a little historical background.

A Botched and Unjust War

“The Charge of the Light Brigade” is a poem by Britain’s then poet-laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson. He wrote it to comment on a monstrous military blunder that sent an elite cavalry unit charging straight into Russian batteries, getting most of the brave troops slaughtered.

This battle occurred during the hideously botched, certainly unjust Crimean War — which Britain and France fought against Christian Russia, to stop it from liberating the Slavs enslaved by the vicious Ottoman Turks. (Why? For reasons of cynical power politics.) The British effort was badly mismanaged from the beginning by hapless commanders who’d bought (not earned) their commissions. Disease ravaged all armies. In the end, the Anglo-French still managed to win, but only after many thousands of needless, useless deaths.

Tennyson took the botched orders that led to the Light Brigade’s destruction, and turned them on their head. He chose not to focus on the dilettantes who ordered the unit’s attack, but the poor brave men who obeyed. And his poem became a classic of English literature. I present it below, followed by my own ode to Antifa and Black Lives Matter.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

I
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

II
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

III
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
   Rode the six hundred.

IV
Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
   All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
   Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
   Not the six hundred.

V
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
   Left of six hundred.

VI
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
   All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
   Noble six hundred!

Now to mark the “peaceful protesters” burning police stations and beating reporters in the name of police reform and anti-racism. 

The Charge of the Gadarene

I

Bad idea, bad idea,
Bad ideas downward,
All in the gulley of Sloth
   Rode the sick myriad.
“Forward, the Gadarene!
Snort for the sea!” he said.
Into the gulley of Sloth
   Rode the sick myriad.

II

“Forward, the Gadarene!”
Was there a boar afraid?
Not though the porker knew
   He’d run out of Gatorade.
   Theirs not to think things through,
   Theirs not to ask “What’s true”,
   Theirs but to grunt and do.
   Into the gulley of Sloth
   Rode the sick myriad.

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III

Claptrap inviting them,
Claptrap inciting them,
Claptrap inside of them,
   Follies and blunders;
Warmed them that they did well,
Boldly they slipped and fell,
Into the maw of Sloth,
Into the briny hell
   Rode the sick myriad.

IV

Squealed their clichés threadbare,
Tossed their dred-locked hair,
Blinding the beat cops there,
Wrecking a city, while
   The limp mayor blundered.
Plunged in the bodega-smoke
Right through the fence they broke;
Shop clerk and newsman
Reeled from the brickbat stroke,
   An idiots’ Iliad.
Then they limped off, but not
   Not the sick myriad.

V

Claptrap inviting them,
Claptrap inciting them,
Claptrap inside of them,
   Follies and blunders;
Warmed them that they did well.
Boldly they slipped and fell
Down the slope that leads to hell,
Slid down the pipes of Sloth,
the Gowanus Canal.
And nought was left of them,
   Left of sick myriads.

VI

When will their dank musk fade?
O the squalid slide they made!
   Defining our period.
Ponder the wreck they made!
Ponder the Gadarene,
  The Woke sick myriad!

 

John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”

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