Deep underneath the brick and steel of a nondescript building somewhere in Manhattan, within the very bowels of the city itself, not far from the Seed mothership, Orac waited. After over a year’s absence, the monster had returned to consume the most unpalatable brain of a former Nixon speechwriter who had decided that he knew more about biology than biologists and that calling pseudoscience pseudoscience was akin to that tactics of Hitler and Stalin in suppressing dissent. Since then, Orac had noted an uptick in the monster’s activity. Hooked into the primitive human computer network known as the Internet, which, compared to the Tarial cell-based networks he was used to infiltrating, was like an abacus sitting next to a shiny new Mac Pro, he had noted with increasing dismay more and more fatuous and stupid attempts to demonize people and ideas with comparisons to Hitler. It was a sure sign that the monster was once more greedily consuming brains left and right.
Obviously, realized Orac, who normally didn’t concern himself with petty human political affairs, it must be an election year in the most powerful nation on earth, the U.S. That could be the only explanation. The monster, whose feeding on a victim’s gray matter would induce an irresistible desire to invoke hysterical and ahistorical allusions to Hitler and the Nazis, was loose and feeding well.
In Sacramento, California, in a small office decorated with an enormous signed photo of Rush Limbaugh at KCRA-TV, silence reigned, except for the gentle tip-tapping of fingers on a computer keyboard. The pace picked up. A commentator for the station a bespectacled man with graying hair hunched over the computer, his face lit bluish-white in the glow of the LCD screen. Having unexpectedly been asked to fill in for one of the most popular talk radio hosts of all time the next day, he really needed to do show prep, even if it meant staying all night.
An elderly man dressed in Dickies and a work shirt entered the office.
“Hi, Fritz,” the man at the desk said.
“Gonna be a late night?” asked Fritz. He spoke with a heavy German accent, and his face was lined with decades of hard labor.
“Yeah,” replied the man at the desk. “Could you try to keep it down?”
“No problem,” said Ted, as he maneuvered his way past chairs and piles of documents to pick up the trash can, which he duly took to the hallway to empty into his larger trash bin, and then replaced, after which he exited the office, the door closing behind him. The sound of a squeaky wheel on his cart slowly diminished as he headed down the hallway.
The man continued to surf online news sites and newspapers, looking for ideas.
Suddenly, there was a clatter and the sound of a large object hitting the wall with such force that the man at the desk felt his computer leap millimeters off the desk before settling back. Two cries assaulted his ears, one guttural and unrecognizable, like a beast on the hunt but oddly human-sounding, too, as if it was a word being shouted with excitement and anticipation, followed by the scream of a man who had just looked into a vision of hell and knew that he was soon going there. The sound of breaking bones reverberated throughout the building for an instant.
And then silence reigned again.
Shaking, the man stood. What had just happened? Whatever it was, it couldn’t be good. Should he stay in his office and hide, hoping that whatever was out there wouldn’t find him, or should he try to escape? A faint odor of rotting hamburger mixed with rotten eggs assaulted his nostrils, resulting in his stomach convulsing his dinner of Chinese takeout up and out.
There was another loud thump, this time much closer to the door of his office. The sound of plodding steps were getting closer. Wiping the vomit from his mouth, the man leapt across the clutter of his office and locked the door, which instantly started bowing as a large object crashed into it from the other side. Splinters bent out from the door in protest.
Trapped! There was no place to go. His only hope was that he was only on the second floor. He might well manage to leap to freedom and escape. With a grunt he heaved his chair through the window.
It heaved right back at him, knocking him on his back with a yelp. He rolled on his side and struggled to get back on his feet.
The man looked up to be greeted by a walking skeleton. Well, not quite. There was still some putrified flesh hanging from the bones, as well as a tattered uniform with a red armband with a white circle and black symbol of some sort. The man couldn’t quite tell what it was, but then he looked at the face of this thing, which, against all logic and science, was alive, a small mustache above the hole that used to be its mouth.
“Braaaaaaiiiinnnns!**” it bellowed, leaning down to grasp the man’s head on either side in an unescapable vice of a grip and driving its fetid remaining teeth into skull, hungrily ripping into the soft gray matter beneath.
Silence reigned again.
The voice was intruding into Orac’s contemplation of the latest satellite images on NASA’s computers. Orac did not like such reveries to be interrupted.
“ORAC!!!” said Jonathan, who appeared somewhat peeved himself that he couldn’t get Orac’s attention right away.
Orac’s colored lights blinked once and changed their pattern. “What is it?” he said in that testy combined nasal and computer voice of his that so irritated those who traveled with him or reported to him.
“The creature has struck again!” Our agent David Neiwert has reported not one, but at least two attacks.
“Tell me,” ordered Orac.
“The first one occurred in Sacramento. Apparently a janitor and a talk show host were attacked”–
“A janitor?” interrupted Orac. “That is not the creature’s usual preferred target. Usually, he goes after people with some role in the media or politics.”
On the February 11 broadcast of Fox News Radio’s Tom Sullivan Show, host Tom Sullivan took a call from a listener who stated: “Listening to [Sen. Barack] Obama … it harkens back to when I was younger and I used to watch those deals with [Nazi dictator Adolf] Hitler, how he would excite the crowd and they’d come to their feet and scream and yell.” Sullivan replied: “Oh, yeah, yeah … I presume you’re not saying he’s Hitler, but I understand your point.” Following the commercial break, Sullivan stated the caller “wasn’t calling Barack Obama Hitler. He was just talking about how Hitler got the crowd all excited, and Barack Obama got the crowd all excited.” Sullivan then stated that he would do a “side-by-side comparison” of a Hitler speech and an Obama speech. Sullivan then introduced the “comparison” by stating: “So, ladies and gentlemen, from the past, a little archive, a little walk down Der Fuehrer’s memory lane. Here he is, the one, the only, Adolf Hitler!” Sullivan proceeded to play a clip of a Hitler speech, followed by Obama’s February 9 speech at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Richmond, Virginia. Sullivan mimicked the crowd during both speeches, yelling, “Yay! Yay!”
Following Sullivan’s “comparison,” a listener called in to say: “I resent the fact that you would compare — I am a black man — you would compare Barack Obama to Hitler, because we need leaders that can inspire us, to hope for the future. We need people like him.” Sullivan replied: “I love his speech.” The caller then asked: “Then why would you bring Hitler in on it?” Sullivan responded: “I didn’t. The caller brought Hitler in on it. The caller said he sounds like Hitler.” The upset caller responded: “Well, why would you even pick it up? It’s denigrating his character.” Sullivan replied: “No, it’s not.” Sullivan later stated: “Well, I understand that Hitler is hated by, and should be, by most everybody in civilized society. … But the point being, you must remember something. Adolf Hitler was able to gather a country of people and get them excited about whatever it was that he was talking to them about. He was a very fiery, enigmatic — I’m not sure — I mean, he was — I mean, he really got the people all thrilled, and I’m sitting there going,’ I hadn’t thought about him being associated in any way with Clint’ — and I asked the guy, I said, ‘Are you saying that Obama is like Hitler?’ And he said, ‘No, it’s the speaking style, that’s all.’ And the speaking style is actually kind of similar.” Before Sullivan ended the segment, he stated: “All right, we won’t play Hitler any more, then.” But Sullivan then pleaded: “One time — oh, come on, one more time? Can I, please, one more time? Just one more time? Then I won’t do it again.” He then added: “Until the next time.”
There was silence, and the multicolored blinking lights inside of Orac and visibile through his clear shell went dark.
“Orac?” said Jonathan, moving forward tentatively? “Orac?”
A single red light blinked. A pause. A blue light blinked. Then several multicolored lights started blinking again. “Ooooh,” said Orac.
“Are you OK?” asked Jonathan. “What happened?”
“So powerful was the illogic and tenuous nature of that comparison, comparing speeches just for cadences (given that they weren’t even in the same language) that it shut me down. I had to reboot. It has been a long time since the monster produced a Hitler analogy that unbelievably idiotic.” There was a soft whirring that signified that Orac was in active mode. “This is the sort of thing that could easily be done with many successful speakers. Although I do not yet understand why this is the case, humans in large groups respond to certain means of speaking and certain cadences. Successful leaders of many stripes use those cadences. Indeed, Hitler mastered the art of giving rousing speeches by watching skilled public speakers possessing the ability to move crowds, emulating their manner of speaking, and practicing tirelessly, both alone and in front of groups. Indeed, it would not surprise me if a similar comparison could be made with many fundamentalist preachers, given that my study of Barack Obama’s speeches lead me to conclude that his speaking style borrows heavily from that of preachers and Hitler’s speeches also resembled that of preachers in cadence, if not in content. Starting slow and building to a repeated crescendos, each the more intense than the last, with carefully placed dramatic pauses, is a time-tested technique that politicians, religious leaders, and leaders of all kinds use to whip up a crowd. Obama only resembles Hitler in that he knows how to give an effective speech that motivates and audience.”
Orac paused, and then continued, “The caller’s comparison is utterly silly and illogical. Indeed, it’s even more so given that Barack Obama is black.”
“I agree,” said Jonathan, “not to mention that the usual attack on Obama is that he’s so liberal that he’s a Communist. But why did the monster attack the janitor? As you say, it’s not the zombie’s style to attack an ordinary worker in that manner.”
“Have you not reasoned it out yet?” said Orac in that imperious tone that used to drive the crew of the Liberator crazy. “Sullivan is a radio talk show host. It would have looked suspicious if he had just started comparing Obama to Hitler without a reason. However, if he had a caller–an old German caller–who phoned in to wax nostalgic about how Hitler could fire up a crowd and then compare Obama’s public speaking skills to Hitler’s, it would give Sullivan free reign to put together that montage of clips of Hitler speaking and Obama speaking. That must be what happened. Clearly the monster’s victims are coordinating their argumentum ad Nazium attacks in a most disturbing manner. This is not unprecedented, but does represent a new level of media manipulation. Remember, Sullivan has a large audience and even fills in from time to time for Rush Limbaugh.”
Orac paused. The lights went down, and several banks of television screens lit up the room. A spotlight fixed on the clear blinking box that was Orac’s CPU.
Orac always was a showy bastard, his pretensions of pure logic notwithstanding, thought Jonathan, as he shielded his eyes from the glare.
“But wait,” said Orac. “Before I hook into the media matrix to search for more signs of the monster, did you not say that there was another attack?”
“I did. Actually there were two more. The monster has struck Australia.” He played the clip:
In fact, with his constant inspirational calls for national unity, Obama is eerily reminiscent of the Fascists. If he spoke German he might well be inclined to adopt as his slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer — as Hitler did (“One nation, one government, one leader”).!
“By that low standard,” observed Orac drolly, “this writer must think that Ronald Reagan was Hitler incarnate. Ever politician calls for national unity. The successful ones persuade people to believe in this unity, become excited about it, and then act on it. Even unsuccessful ones make this call; they just don’t manage to persuade the people to unite.”
“So?” asked Orac testily. “Get to the result.”
“You’re not going to like it,” said Jonathan.
“Do I ever?” retorted Orac testily. “Just get on with the report.”
“Suits called Oprah a Nazi for supporting Barack Obama,” stammered Jonathan. “Oprah may have become a supreme woo maven with her credulous support of The Secret, her frequently having woo-meister Mehmet Oz on her show, as well as Dr. Christine Northrup, who, besides giving all sorts of dubious advice about diet and health, has a penchant for telling women how to direct their qi into their vaginas for better sex. But she’s no Nazi.”
“I agree,” said Orac. “This is bad. Her irrationality and irresponsible marketing of pseudoscientific and antiscientific superstition notwithstanding, Oprah Winfrey is one of the most powerful forces in the media today. Even I hesitate when it comes to criticizing her support for antiscientific woo, as it’s not good to get on her bad side. Indeed, it is very dangerous to mess with Oprah. I fear the result could be a Hitler Zombie apocalypse that could destroy the very fabric of the space-time continuum.”
TO BE CONTINUED….unfortunately.
**Translated from the German, of course!