The time: Some date in the future when the Democrats once again are the majority party in the House of Representatives.
The place: A hearing of HAAC, the House on American Activities Committee.
Representative Milton Claypool (committee chair): We have a witness that this committee has wanted to interrogate for some time. His name is Mr. Alabaster Quinn. He claims to be a writer, an actor of some note and an activist. Mr. Quinn, please state your name.
Alabaster Quinn: My name is Alabaster Quinn.
Claypool: And what is your occupation?
Quinn: I am, as you mentioned, an actor of some note and a writer of some note also. Activist may be too strong a term, but I pay attention to what’s going on.
Claypool: As the name of this committee suggests, it is our job to ferret out and expose any Americans who do not believe, as all good progressives do, that the United States is a racist, misogynist, imperialist, war-mongering country. This committee is particularly interested in some of your writing. It seems, to put it bluntly, to be quite favorable to the United States. For example, you regularly write positively about the United States Constitution as if it were a good thing. Am I interpreting your writings correctly?
Quinn: Yes, I believe you are. I do believe the Constitution is a great document.
Claypool: You do understand that this is the 21st century and no one really buys into that whole Constitution thing anymore? Why, it’s barely thirty pages long, even accounting for all of the amendments. Something that short was probably read by all of those that actually ratified it. Not that I’ve ever actually read it, but my staff assures me it isn’t something that we need to pay attention to anymore. Besides, it was written like four or five hundred years ago, right?
Quinn: It’s not quite that old. Important and meaningful documents needn’t be long. Some of the greatest historical documents have actually been quite short. The Gettysburg Address is very short. Lincoln said much in just a few words.
Quinn: Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln.
(Claypool confers with a staffer. “Who?” he repeats to the staffer. “He was what? A president? Good Lord.”)
Claypool: I’m glad you brought up Abraham Lincoln. I hold in my hand evidence indicating that you are a member of something called Friends of Abe. Do you deny being affiliated with such a group?
Quinn: No, not at all.
Claypool: What is this Friends of Abe group?
Quinn: It’s just a group of like-minded people in the entertainment industry. Generally, it’s those who lean to the right politically.
Claypool: But you call the organization Friends of Abe. Do you actually know Abraham Lincoln well enough to call yourselves friends?
Quinn: Well, we don’t actually know him. He’s been dead for a long time.
Claypool: So you don’t deny being a member of this group. Further, you don’t deny misrepresenting yourselves since not only are you not friends with Abe, you don’t even know the gentlemen.
Quinn: You seem to be missing the point. We chose the name because we agree with the ideals of Abraham Lincoln. Further, we agree with the ideals set forth in the Constitution. You know, the separation of powers, freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms. We like stuff like freedom, liberty, limited government, the whole nine yards. Oh, we like capitalism too.
Claypool: These are extreme and, quite frankly, nutty ideas. Mr. Quinn, I ask you, are you now or have you ever been a conservative? Are you are card carrying conservative? I remind you, you are under oath.
Quinn: I am a Republican. I think you could call me a conservative. I’ve got a voter identification card, if that’s what you mean.
(A startled hush falls over the committee)
Claypool: Are you being coy with this committee, Mr. Quinn?
Quinn: I don’t think so. I said you could call me a conservative.
Claypool: So, you don’t deny it? You don’t deny being a conservative?
Quinn: No. It’s not yet a crime.
Claypool: Not yet, but we’re working on it. Your testimony is just downright dangerous. This committee is greatly disturbed that you and this Friends of Abe group could actually promote dangerous concepts like liberty and freedom to the impressionable minds of American youth. Our youngsters watch movies quite often, I have been told. Do your movies promote such things?
Quinn: As an actor, if I make a movie, I’m just playing a character. In that respect, I’m in the entertainment business. I’m just pretending to be something I’m not. Sort of like being a politician.
Claypool: I’m outraged! I believe I can speak for all of the committee members here today by saying that I take exception to that remark. We hold our beliefs strongly. Why, just last night I attended a fundraiser where I expressed my deeply held beliefs about any number of important topics. Those who attended the fundraiser were very generous with their donations. Those beliefs I expressed at that fundraiser I hold very close to my heart – until I deposit them.
Now, are you willing to name names? Will you state before this committee the identities of other members of this Friends of Abe group?
Quinn: I don’t really see that as my place. Any member who chooses to can declare themselves publicly as a member. However, many are concerned that their association with Friends of Abe, if known publicly, would affect their ability to work in the entertainment industry.
Claypool: Are you saying there is a blacklist in Hollywood for conservatives?
Quinn: I can’t say for sure. I do know that there have been some members who worked steadily before it was public knowledge that they are conservatives. Since then, they get fewer offers for acting jobs than Danny Bonaduce or Eric Estrada.
Claypool: Are you aware of any conservatives that have infiltrated the government?
Quinn: Well, I vote for a few each election. Some of them even win. However, from what I’ve seen, the bureaucracy seems to be pretty conservative-free.
Claypool: And we try diligently to keep it that way.
Quinn: So I’ve noticed.
Claypool: You and your Friends of Abe seem to have some other very peculiar views that we are quite concerned about. For instance, your writings indicate that climate just changes, that it’s not all caused by human activity. It sounds like you are a climate change denier. That is a position contrary to the position of this committee or the people we meet at fundraisers and cocktail parties. Do you deny that you are a denier?
Quinn: Deny that I’m a denier? Well, yes. I’m not a climate change denier. I think that climate changes, you know, all the time. That’s what climate does. I’m not a scientist, but it seems that the climate is pretty complex. I don’t buy into the orthodoxy that the science is settled. That statement seems a bit anti-science. I think that attempting to shut off debate is also anti-science. Sir, are you anti-science?
Claypool: Certainly not, and I’ve got a picture of Al Gore and me in my office to prove it. He’s got a Nobel Prize and an Oscar and maybe even a Grammy. (Claypool confers with staffer. “Does he have a Grammy? He does? For that thing with Bette Midler, right?”) You can’t get much more scientific than that.
Earlier you mentioned that you have a voter identification card. What’s all this about your support of voter identification laws? It is the opinion of this committee that voter identification laws are bad for some very good reasons, none of which come to mind at the moment. Do you deny that you favor such laws?
Quinn: I don’t deny it. I do favor such laws. Being able to prove you are who you say you are doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.
Claypool: Not unreasonable? Of course it is.
(Claypool confers with staffer. “It is, isn’t it? Unreasonable, I mean. That is our position, right? I thought so.”)
Quinn: You apparently didn’t find it unreasonable that I was required to show my identification to gain entrance to this building today, did you?
(Claypool confers with staffer again. “He did, huh? Just one form of identification, though, right? Are we still taking blood samples?”)
Claypool: That’s different. This is the United States House of Representatives. It’s a federal building. It’s the law.
Quinn: But, that’s my point.
Claypool: Mr. Quinn, you have not allayed this committee’s concerns about you and the Friends of Abe and conservatives in general. We will be sending a formal request to cabinet level secretaries that the Friends of Abe be investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the United States Mint, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Quinn: The Bureau of Indian Affairs? The Mint? That seems a bit extreme.
Claypool: Not as extreme as your pro-American ideas.
Curtice Mang is the author of the two books, including the new book, The Smell of Politics: The Good, The Bad, and the Odorous. He can be contacted at www.mangwrites.com, where one can also purchase his books; or contact Curtice at mangwrites at cox.net.