American Idiocracy Is Real
The Ballad of Trump Coins and Maus.
1. Where Does Terry McAuliffe Go to Get His Apology?
Over the weekend I read this amazing NYT piece about the Great and Wise American Citizens who think they’re going to get rich buying “Trump Coins.”
I really hope you’ll read the entire story, but I’ll walk you through the basics of it first.
The rise of the Trump Coin began on Telegram, one of the white-supremacist-adjacent social networks where an account claiming to belong to Denzel Washington claimed that Democrats were destroying America, that the monetary system was blowing up, and that in the future the only hard currency will be Trump Coins.
Why would Denzel Washington, a longtime donor to Democrats, be saying such a thing? Why would Trump Coins become the default currency instead of, say, gold? And why would Washington be on Telegram and not Twitter or Facebook?
This fake Telegram post was the first of many that suggested the Trump Coin was going to appreciate in value—kind of like bitcoin!—and go to the moon. Another fake Telegram post said that Elon Musk had announced that you could buy a Tesla using Trump Coins.
Why would Musk accept Trump Coins for Tesla? What security measures would prevent the runaway counterfeiting of Trump Coins? Why was this shocking financial news only on Telegram?
The Trump Coins were being marketed through hundreds of affiliates. The supposed MSRP was $39.95 per coin. But they were actually being given away for free! Buyers only had to pay $9.95 in shipping.
Why would someone give away a $40 item for “free”? Why did it cost $10 to ship a single coin?
I don’t want to spoil the surprise of who’s behind the Trump Coins. Again: You should read the whole thing.
But the point is that this is not a particularly sophisticated scam. To fall for it you would have to be . . . especially not a genius.
Let’s put the Trump Coin aside now and look at the Twitter controversy of the moment: The removal of the graphic novel Maus from the eighth-grade ELA curriculum in McMinn County, Tennessee.
I haven’t read Maus and I hold no special brief for it. If the Great and Wise Citizens of McMinn County wanted to argue that Maus was:
Not grade-level appropriate.
Not as good a teaching tool as another specific book would be.
Objectionable for serious reasons.
Well, I’d be all ears. You can have a conversation about those opinions. Parents matter. Etc.
But the McMinn Board of Ed meeting minutes on this subject show that the objections to the use of Maus in classrooms were somewhat . . . less substantive. Here’s board member Tony Allman complaining that Maus isn’t grade-level appropriate:
Tony Allman- This is a book for the eighth grade on a third grade reading level.
Steven Brady- No, that is incorrect.
Tony Allman- So the 3.0 on the front of the book doesn’t stand for third grade reading?
Steven Brady- No, what you are referring to is the AR number that it is assigned to the book
Here is Tony Allman making an objection about content:
Tony Allman- I understand all that, but being in the schools, educators and stuff we don’t need to enable or somewhat promote this stuff. It shows people hanging, it shows them killing kids, why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff, it is not wise or healthy.
It is true that hanging people and killing children is neither wise nor healthy. But then, Maus is an autobiography about the Holocaust.
And here is Tony Allman making a moral objection to the author of Maus, Art Spiegelman:
Tony Allman- I may be wrong, but this guy that created the artwork used to do the graphics for Playboy. You can look at his history, and we’re letting him do graphics in books for students in elementary school. If I had a child in the eighth grade, this ain’t happening.
Credit to Allman here: Spiegelman did once draw cartoons for Playboy. If having been published in Playboy is now a bar for being included in the public square, there are going to be lots of problems in McMinn. A sample list of just a few of the writers who once published in Playboy: Nabokov, Bellow, Vonnegut, Wodehouse, Updike, Cheever, Chrichton, Koestler.
And I don’t want to pre-judge Allman’s politics or anything, but I feel like there’s someone else in public life with deep connections to Playboy . . .