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01.07.02 Useful Monsters, by Valerie Protopapas

Useful Monsters

by Valerie Protopapas

In 2004, Indian director M. Night Shyamalan released the film The Village. This inventive offering was not all that popular, probably because it required the audience to actually think. In any event, in the rustic village of Covington—located in rural Pennsylvania (apparently) in the early 1700s—a group of about 60 souls live peaceful and happy lives devoid of conflict and absent any external invasions. However, we soon learn that the town exists within the context of a terrible curse—for it is surrounded by deep woods in which live murderous monsters. We also learn that the villagers have reached an accord of sorts with these monsters. As long as no resident of the Village crosses the borders and enters the woods, they are left in peace. Of course, this means that none may leave Covington without arousing their ire and its hideous consequences. Early on, a young man determines (as is the way of youth) to challenge this taboo and although he soon returns to the safety of the village, that evening, a group of the fiends appear, terrifying the residents who catch glimpses of their monstrous forms through gaps in their window shutters. In the morning deep scratches are found on the door of the young man’s family’s home. Obviously, we are led to believe that there would be no more such challenges to the creatures—until a young man is badly injured and requires, of all things, an antibiotic. The rest of the film involves the sending of a blind young woman through the wood to the world in which “Covington” actually exists—the modern world.

While the concept of the film—the effort of people badly wounded by the present and their attempts to re-establish a sort of colonial “Eden,”—is interesting, it is not the point here. What is the point is that the “monsters” that frighten the residents into remaining in Covington are nothing more (or less) than some of the founding members of that same community who masquerade as monsters to prevent the residents from leaving. We are also led to believe that, as each new generation comes of age, the leaders will choose those who will take their place in this service! It is a matter, so to speak, of “useful monsters.”

The concept of “useful monsters” is as old as man himself. Though often hidden away, just as in Covington, as soon as a crisis arises, such “monsters” are resurrected to frighten people back “into the fold.” Frequently the monsters are historical in nature. For instance, for many years Cato the Elder ended all of his speeches in the Roman Senate—no matter what the subject matter!—with the phrase “Furthermore, Carthage must be destroyed.” Carthage had devastated Rome under Hannibal and the Romans, including Cato, had long memories! So even after Hannibal was gone, the Romans whistled up the monster Carthage until they finally destroyed that city and salted the ground to prevent it rising again.

These “useful monsters” become valuable in societal efforts to achieve desired ends—as the monsters of Covington kept its residents from learning the truth of their situation and choosing to leave the Village. But more usually actual groups—no longer powerful or now extinct—are raised up for this purpose. Consider the National Socialist party, or the Nazis. The horrors of Nazism are legendary and to call someone a “Nazi” is to proclaim that they are wickedness personified. So though the National Socialist party is no more, it becomes a “useful monster” for embarrassing and bullying people into the silence and compliance desired by the establishment.

Another useful “monster” carries a name that is only slightly less hated—the Ku Klux Klan. Like the Nationalist Socialist Party, the Klan did exist; indeed, it still exists—or so we are told! Yet, for a considerable period of time, the Klan was an august American institution with chapters all over the country. Men of importance such as Democrat House Leader Robert Byrd of West Virginia openly held high office in the Klan and photographs of huge Klan marches and gatherings, its white-robed members bearing Old Glory, are still available. However, with the rise of the civil rights movement in the 50s, the Klan was adjudged a “monster” and became overrun with government agents to a point at which the percentage of actual members is now considered less than the number of government snoops. Yet, like the Nazis, the Klan is a useful monster in that it serves to silence dissent in racial matters.

Both “monsters” are used against critics of leftist groups and their agendas. The left can be seen as a triumvirate: the non-government left consists of “liberals” or “progressives” found in academia, the law, business, the media, Hollywood and other non-government sectors. The government “left” consists of federal union members, bureaucrats and lobbyists as well as a host of politicians and DC hangers-on. The third leg of the triumvirate consists of various minority groups, especially blacks but also Hispanics and Muslims. As the first two groups contain large numbers of Jews, any criticism of that group results in the charge of the critic being a Nazi—for obvious reasons. For the third group given their racial and religious makeup, “the Klan” becomes the monster of choice. Of course, the fact that the critics have nothing to do with either entity doesn’t matter. The claim is enough. Indeed, the more obvious the guilt of the leftist cabal, the more furious the attack of the useful monster and the more complete the destruction of its critics.

But these monster attacks aren’t limited to mere rhetoric. Recently, there were demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia against efforts to remove local Confederate monuments. As it is becoming quite clear to the Left that ordinary Americans are heartily sick of one-sided cultural vandalism, and knowing that the Black Lives Matter contingent was coming to “counter-demonstrate,” apparently it was decided that it was time for the actual appearance of one of those useful monsters—the Klan—in the hopes that the white demonstrators would stay away to avoid being associated with it. The Left is not stupid though many of its members are. To work up sympathy for people who are anything but sympathetic, it was hoped that the appearance of the “actual” Klan—robes and all—would garner sympathy for the black counter-demonstrators. And so, dutifully—and rather oddly—the Klan announced its intended participation in the Charlottesville pro-Confederate monument demonstration. But despite some arrests, the actual appearance of this “useful monster” did not have the impact hoped. Indeed, there was considerable speculation that that it was a scheme intended to “prove” to ordinary folks that the members of BLM were merely endangered black folks only moments away from Jim Crow and the rope! However, there is considerable suspicion that “the Klan” in Charlottesville was an ally of BLM and its agenda rather than its enemy! After all, even “useful monsters” lose their value when they no longer frighten us—especially when we discover that they, like the monsters of Covington, are hoaxes.