Out of Left Field: Happiness and humor: Some unusual journeys

Michael Dinnocenzo
Prof. Michael D'Innocenzo

Be sure there is much more exploring of Whitman’s creative “Open Road” for Happiness.

But as we travel with Whitman, it is not surprising that we encounter twists and turns, including different approaches to humor and happiness. Later, we will explore how the warmth of humor builds bonds and good feelings.

Freud has argued that much humor has an element of hostility to it. A question in this essay is the extent humor can have positive effects for individuals and the larger society, even if it is harshly mocking of others?

I want to emphasize the column in the Washington Post this week by Max Boot, long acclaimed as a conservative analyst. Not only does Boot present some of the most lacerating views of Trump, but he does so in graphic, colorful language that is likely to be memorable and make Trump seem like a laughable clown.

Ultimately, Boot stands with Mark Twain who wrote: “Against the Assault of Laughter, nothing can stand.”

Boot’s warning to us: “While Trump is not a serious person, he is a serious threat to our democracy, and we make a grave mistake if we dismiss him.”

What makes Trump so dangerous, like dictators, “is his ability to pull vast numbers of people into their personal delusions. Trump’s “secret weapon is that it is hard for educated people to take him seriously,”

Despite his buffoonish conduct and political stupidity, Boot emphasizes that Trump received more votes in 2020 (74.2 million) to (62.9 in 2016). Somewhere along the way more evaluation is needed of Trump supporters.

In what he describes as “the crime of the century” (stealing the 2020 election,(even after 60 dismissed lawsuits, a majority of Republicans believe that Trump was elected and is now the president).

Among his terms for Trump Boot uses “ignoramus;” a word more to leave us wondering how much we should be using humor to mock and deflate this man who, in Boot’s view is delusional, in need of deep therapy and hospitalization.

Included with Trump’s vast delusions is his view that he was the best president in American history (while more than 400,000 died from Covid -19). Most historians consider him our worst president ever.

Boot mocks Trump’s claim that he will be installed as president in August.

But the audacious Trump, ever new “branding” proposal, said he would run for a seat in the House. He would help Republicans become a majority, then replace Pelosi as Speaker, then he would run for president in 2024 from the position of speaker

Max Boot’s analysis of Trump will be a key historical record, along with the book, “Traitor: A History of Betrayal From Benedict Arnold to Donald Trump.

For Boot with all the sideshow freakiness of Trump, we cannot afford to let down our guard on his dangers. With Trump, humor without action imperils us all.

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