I have been a fan of the National Lampoon since I was a teen in the 1970s. One of the most shocking articles for me to read in the mid 70s was P J O’Rourke’s “Foreigners From Around The World”, which appeared in the National Lampoon in May, 1976. The article is really a heap of ethnic jokes strung together, formulated to piss off all minorities equally. Maybe some more equally than others.
Even in my teens I realised that the humour is meant to be taken in irony. Problem is, O’Rourke dropped few hints that he was actually joking, outside of the fact that the entire article was totally outrageous. It is an orgy of stereotypes said without much apology. I felt at least a little disturbed by the article for that reason.
The reason I am bringing it up now, is because for the first time since I disposed of my NatLamp collection, I found the article using Google. Problem was, it was found at a White Supremacist site. Like most racist sites, you never actually know for sure you are at a racist site until you do some poking around. Then you begin to stumble on actual hate literature. For reasons of my own sense of ethics, I won’t post the link, but anyone can still easily Google to that site and find it easily enough if they really want to.
Now I am wondering if my willingness to be entertained by the article was actually an acceptance of hate literature, and was O’Rourke an earlier version of talk show hosts such as Ron Imus or Rush Limbaugh? O’Rourke does rescue himself, however, by lampooning his own ethnicity, which by his surname appears to be Irish. The illustration for the Irish is one of a nasty-looking lerperchaun, describing the Irish as “Pie-faced, neckless, bandy-legged sots who almost never fuck.” Maybe that gets him off the hook. For my part, I didn’t keep a scorecard.
But in addition, there is a larger idea that he appears to lampoon that is easy to miss among all of the sniping about individual ethnic groups. The United States is composed almost entirely of the ethnic groups he is making fun of. Ultimately, if we follow the logic to the end, it is America itself, his own country of residence, which he lampoons.