Just Another Saturday Morning In The Heartland
Abby Franquemont

The author’s disdainful tone throughout the entire opening section — where the bigoted Bible-thumpers yearn to humiliate waitresses — somehow reminded me of how non-Western “people of color” were portrayed in old pulp stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan and John Carter Meet the Sinister Oriental Cave-Men of Dinosaur Island, and that sort of stuff). For example:

Unless it’s a large extended family 12-top, in which case, the older men are teaching the boys how to objectify and humiliate the waitress, while the mom looks on with resignation or anger

…the wrinkled ebony face of Chief Oonga-Boonga leered with grotesque lust at the beautiful serving-girl — who, despite her slanting Asiatic eyes, had skin as fair as any English maiden, and blushed helplessly at the dusky savage’s repulsive advances…

…“Well, they say that,” he says, with the same kind of snide tone I’ve had when I make it to the car before I say I wish it seemed like these bible study and pastor’s groups ever read the book of Matthew, “They say that, but come on. Just going to Chicago on a weekend is asking to get killed. With the way those people are…

…Carter’s fists clenched in anger at the green-skinned Martian’s cruelty and arrogance. “I, Uk-Blat of the Thalkron clan, shall have your skull as a drinking goblet, Earth-man,” sneered the tyrant, drool dripping from his great curved tusks, “and your woman shall be my concubine, unless I decide to cook her!” Carter did not reply, but maintained the cool dignity befitting a white American military officer, as he slowly reached for his revolver…

I would like to give the author some benefit of the doubt, and assume this was all meant as intentional parody of naive xenophobia/ethnocentrism — in the style of Horace Miner’s tongue-in-cheek anthropology essay about the bizarre customs of the “Nacirema” tribe, or David Macaulay’s droll classic Motel of the Mysteries. But then I get to this:

I think about my friends back east, my friends in California, my friends who are not, quite literally, worried that the contractors coming to their houses are going to take note of all the obvious multiculturalism in play here, and report them to actual no-shit nazis and white supremacists.

This seems too over-the-top for parody, and Abby Franquemont comes across unattractively as an insane and paranoid fundamentalist — not all of whom believe in deities or an afterlife.

Edited to add: In the last paragraph, I’m not making assumptions about the real-life Abby Franquemont who wrote this. I’m talking about the persona of the first-person narrator — the “paper Abby” she presents. I think the piece has some promise if reworked, but I would suggest to the author that she try mentally recasting it as a “third-person omniscient narrator” text. Not “I was sitting in the diner,” but “Abby was sitting in the dinner,” and not “I wondered how many of them had KKK hoods at home,” but “Abby wondered to herself how many of them had KKK hoods,” and so forth. Possibly the author would find that “paper Abby” looks less sympathetic when viewed from the outside.

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