Great day in the morning, it’s almost summertime, and that means I’m trying to decide which books to read when lounging in my fishnet thong, soaked in Johnson’s Baby Oil, on the white sands of our fabulous Chico beaches. Usually, I like to pick long, thick classics for summer—maybe one great fiction novel and the rest nonfiction. But lately I’ve been catching up on short, political titles languishing on my desk.
Author Micah Ian Wright spent four years invading other countries as an airborne ranger in the U.S. Army (he saw action night-jumping into hot landing zones in the Panama invasion—an operation he nicknamed “Just (be) Cause”). Afterwards, he earned a degree in political science and creative writing at the University of Arizona and then went on to write for Nickelodeon Animation (The Angry Beavers), where he won an Emmy award.
In his new book, You Back the Attack! ($15.95, Seven Stories Press, NY), Wright takes classic war propaganda posters and reworks them with his own sardonic slogans influenced by the current atmosphere (see sample). The cumulative effect of these chilling portraits is of an administration/country eerily similar in tone to pre-Nazi Germany, as renowned author Kurt Vonnegut echoes in the foreword (“we now have our own Reichstag fire to do something about”). After an introduction from noteworthy historian and teacher Howard Zinn, the book features full-color reprints of the posters, along with shocking statistics and documentation of state-sanctioned fascist government behavior since Sept. 11 (while addressing such poignant questions as: Who really fights our wars? Answer: the poor and minorities). All of the comments are documented by the Center for Constitutional Rights.
In his own introduction, Wright explains how he originally became distraught over Amerika’s new path of global imperialism. He describes a scene he witnessed in Panama, when the lower-class neighborhood of El Chorrillo—filled with old wooden buildings and about 20,000 innocent poor people—was destroyed and burned to the ground after several American bombs missed their targets (“I share the guilt of those who did these things, because I was there. And guess what? So do you. Because your government did it.”).
Shortly after 9-11, he began making the posters after viewing some real National Security Administration propaganda. One official poster portrayed an American sailor staring up at smoke swirling around two vertical posts. Wright was struck by déjà vu: He had seen a poster like this one before, in a Nazi recruitment ad urging young Germans to join the SS. It was a blatant rip-off.
And so he began making his own—collected here for your reading pleasure.
1. Kings/Mavs, baby
2. High on Fire and Hella at Capitol Garage (5/17)
3. The Black Keys
4. Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion at Chico State (11/11)
5. Air Supply at Feather Falls Casino