A Mad Tea Party

16 Sep

The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: “No room! No room!” they cried out when they saw Alice coming.

“There’s PLENTY of room!” said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

“You little girls come here for three reasons,” said the Mad Hatter, “One, you’re terrorists; two, you’re escaping the law; or three, you’re hungry (because) you can’t make a living in your own dirtbag country.”

“You should learn not to make personal remarks,” Alice said with some severity; “it’s very rude.”

The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he SAID was, “Why is a Muslim like a terrorist?”

“Come, we shall have some fun now!” thought Alice. “I’m glad they’ve begun asking riddles.–I believe I can guess that,” she added aloud.

“Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?” said the March Hare.

“Exactly so,” said Alice.

“Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on.

“I do,”Alice hastily replied; “at least–at least I mean what I say–that’s the same thing, you know.”

“Not the same thing a bit!” said the Hatter. “You might just as well say that saying there are headless bodies in the desert is the same as finding headless bodies in the desert!’

“You might just as well say,” added the March Hare, “that looking out your window at Russia is the same as having foreign policy experience!”

“You might just as well say,” added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in her sleep, “that being abstinent with other people, is the same as being abstinent alone.”

Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Dormouse’s remark seemed to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English. “I don’t quite understand you,” she said, as politely as she could.

“Tell us a story,” said the Hatter to the Dormouse.

“Once upon a time there were three little sisters,” the Dormouse began in a great hurry; “and their names were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie; and they lived at the bottom of a well–”

“What did they live on?” asked Alice, who always took a great interest in questions of eating and drinking.

“They lived on treacle,” said the Dormouse, after thinking a minute or two.

“They couldn’t have done that, you know,” Alice gently remarked; “they’d have been ill.”

“Okay, then they lived on catsup,” added the Dormouse testily, “It’s a vegetable.”

“They’d still be quite ill,” snapped Alice.

“So they were,” said the Dormouse; “VERY ill.”

Alice wanted to ask whether they managed to see a doctor, but it seemed like a touchy question.

Then she tried to fancy to herself what such an extraordinary way of living would be like, but it puzzled her too much, so she went on: “But why did they live at the bottom of a well? Why didn’t they live in a proper house?”

“That’s not my job.  Anyway, there’s a plan for everybody,” said the Dormouse, falling asleep in an instant.

“The Dormouse is asleep again,” said the Hatter.

“What is a Dormouse, anyway?” asked Alice.

“It’s a mouse with a human brain.” Said the March Hare.

Alice looked confused: “I don’t think–”

“Then you shouldn’t talk,” said the Hatter.

This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear: she got up in great disgust, and walked off.

“At any rate I’ll never go THERE again!” said Alice as she picked her way through the wood. “It’s the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!”

33 Responses to “A Mad Tea Party”

  1. Thomas Stazyk September 17, 2010 at 12:34 am #

    Nice one.

    Too bad there aren’t more Alices out there.

    • jenny September 17, 2010 at 6:00 am #

      It’s not very subtle, but I wasn’t feeling very subtle after the news last night.

      • Thomas Stazyk September 18, 2010 at 3:00 am #

        Today I stumbled across this Thomas Jefferson quote that seemed timely:

        “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects was never was and never will be.”

      • jenny September 18, 2010 at 8:31 am #

        Tom, you are the only person I (sorta) know who just runs into a Thomas Jefferson quote…just like that. 🙂

        Next time, could you bring me one that leaves me with a cheerier feeling?

  2. Philippe September 17, 2010 at 3:27 am #

    Bravely spoken.

    But will you be as brave after the elections this November?

    • jenny September 17, 2010 at 6:03 am #

      It’s not really brave, Philippe; I just can’t resist a joke.

      Anyway, bravery or no bravery, I will be behind the looking glass, as always. 🙂

  3. Paul Costopoulos September 17, 2010 at 6:19 am #

    I hope millions of Alices will keep the Tea Party out next Novemeber otherwise the whole world will be at risk. Could Carrol have been a prophet and foresee Sara?

    • jenny September 17, 2010 at 6:21 am #

      Paul, we need a Million Alice March! Ha!

      • jenny September 17, 2010 at 7:00 am #

        I can see it now: We all dress as Alice, blonde wigs and striped tights, and march on the next Tea Party gathering.

        We carry signs that say “Curiouser and Curiouser”.

  4. Carrah September 17, 2010 at 7:02 am #

    Maybe I should take another look at Alice. This is a lot more interesting than I remember!

  5. solidgoldcreativity September 19, 2010 at 2:20 am #

    Greetings from a land where the words “tea party” are still whimsical … liked this very much, esp the mouse with a human brain. Pulled up very short by the headless bodies. Very well done.

    • jenny September 19, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

      Thank you. I cozy up to Lewis Carroll any way I can. By the way, Nabokov translated Alice into Russian. Brilliantly, of course!

      • solidgoldcreativity September 19, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

        Of course. Whenever one arrives somewhere magical — the other side of the looking glass, Yasnaya Polyana, etc — N’s always got there first 😉

  6. Cheri September 20, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    “Every time I wade into politics I get in trouble,” said the knitted Dinah.

    “Oh, go ahead. What do you care?” snapped the Schnauzer.

    “Yes, make your point and stop beating around the burning bush,” echoed the Springer Spaniel.

    “O.K. guys, I’ll just observe (not judge) that there are just as many nut cases on the left as there are on the right,” whispered the knitted Dinah.

    • jenny September 20, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

      We’re all mad here, is that it, Dinah? Yes. I think you’re right.

      I cannot say why it is God’s plan that I should poke fun only at this particular group of nut cases. 😉

      • Cheri September 21, 2010 at 9:26 am #

        Oh god.

  7. david osman September 24, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

    Tall Tale.
    Once upon a time in far away land there was a Tall Dark and Handsome man. It was nothing special about this man except well … that he was tall dark and handsome.
    Of course he had Detractors. They claimed he had big pointy ears and has began his every speech with “as I said before “line. The Detractors claimed that he said nothing before therefore his statement was not based in reality
    The far away land was populated by White People. Some of those whities were more equal than others. They had been called Equalizers. In order to be an Equalizer one has to be rich and constantly feeling guilty. Feeling guilty was more important than being rich.
    Equalizers along with Detractors rule the land.
    Tall dark and handsome man had three very important qualities. He smoked, drink wine and love to help people. In far away land in qualified him to be a king. King before him stopped drinking and smoking and help only some not everybody. White people became enraged and along with Dark, Brown and Yellow people overthrew last king and installed Tall Dark and Handsome to be a king.
    They proclaimed him The One and Only Number One the First.
    I would like to depart for a moment from my story to explain the presence of others besides White People in far away land.
    Brow and Yellow people travelled across the ocean to far away land. They heard rumors that White People are stupid and give to newcomer’s milk honey and women. Rumors proved to be false and White People forced Brown People to pick up strawberries for their children and Yellow People to wash their dirty laundry.
    Story of Dark People was more complicated. Long time ago White People became bored without friends and toys. They sailed to far far far away land to find friends and toys. They did not find friends and toys but plenty of Dark People.
    White people brought Dark People to their Land to play catch and capture game. It was a fun game to White People not so much for Dark People.
    The unhappiness of Dark People gave birth to Equalizers. Specially selected White Children were bred to feel guilty.
    Soon far away land was inhabited by plenty of Guilty White People which in turn made Dark People angry.
    The reason for their anger was that although White People felt guilty they did not want to play catch and release game with Dark People……
    Well, back to The One and Only Number One the First.
    He was crowned and Guilty White People kneeled in front of him. White People hoped that after his installment they stop feeling guilty and Dark People hoped to stop feeling angry.
    But it did not happen. Instead, Detractors and their affiliates became angry.
    Meanwhile The One and Only Number One the First went around the globe apologizing for White People’s bad behavior. He also instituted a game in his land where He and His people would give away large amount of money as fast as they can. And if it was not fast enough they would have to give more.
    And it went on and on and on.
    But evil Detractors did not rest and continue to plot against the king.
    They conspired to kidnap king’s faithful and devoted associate the Teleprompter.
    King missed his associate greatly. He could not speak and think without the Teleprompter and became more and more sad and distracted.
    He tried to seek help from Alice and Mad Hatter but instead became involved with Good Muslims.
    Good Muslims were different from Bad Muslims. Bad Muslims wanted to kill White People while Good Muslims only wanted to insult them.
    And it went on and on and on.
    We do not know how this story ends but one thing is clear. It is evident to All People that smoking, drinking and helping people is not enough to be a good King

    • jenny September 25, 2010 at 7:28 am #

      “Bad Muslims wanted to kill White People while Good Muslims only wanted to insult them.”

      That’s from the sketch in the comment above:

      “Bad Muslims wanted to kill White People while Good Muslims only wanted to insult them.”

      Read it again:

      “Bad Muslims wanted to kill White People while Good Muslims only wanted to insult them.”

      I have a devastating, satirical response to those words, but we are behind the Looking Glass, and I fear that my satire will be misunderstood or intentionally misconstrued.

      So I will speak plainly:

      To David: I want to listen to people who disagree with me and try to understand them, but this sentence stops me in my tracks.

      To Everyone Else: This sentiment, expressed in the comment above about Muslims, is wrong. It exemplifies what I fear about the Tea Party, and sounds a lot like our fanatical enemies. We must be better than this.

  8. Cheri September 25, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    I work with people from around the world. My clients from Beijing, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, Delhi, Milpitas, Tehran, Ireland, Fremont, and Korea teach me each day that stereotyping is an inaccurate way to predict human behavior.

  9. david osman September 25, 2010 at 4:40 pm #

    Let’s have a plain talk.
    After September 11th I volunteered to work with the families of Cantor- Fitzgerald. It was a law firm I think in the tower one. They lost 500 people. Emergency service was located in downtown hotel.
    I remember one guy distinctly. His brother was killed and he travelled to NY from somewhere in America. He did not sleep for three days. He could not. I recall he was an MD. He came to me and said that he needs medication or he will crash. I agreed with him and went to talk to a woman who had run emergence response. Where can I talk to psychiatrist I asked. We do not need one she said. I am a specialist in posttraumatic stress disorder she added. Let me talk to him she said. Do you understand that he needs medication I asked? You do not know what you talking about she replied.
    At this point I realized that she cannot hear me. Moreover she does not recognize that guy’s condition as dare emergency. She sees it as routine therapy visit. I walked out of her office and out of that building with disgust. Emergency requires emergency responses I thought.

    I guess jenny I am talking about the war and you are thinking about peace. Islam does not need your protection and Muslims would not lose sleep over my remarks.
    The interesting thing is that you feel compelled to attack me. I am on your side Jen. There is unprecedented movement in Muslim world toward expansion and overthrow of Christian and Jewish values. This is not a therapy session. It is a violent confrontation. I truly do not know who moderate Muslims are? Do you? And if they exist do they have a power to stop their violent brethren?
    I do not want to be better. I would like to be alive.
    PS. I have read the Koran, I do know who Mohammed is and my neck gets red under the sun

    • jenny September 25, 2010 at 11:48 pm #

      Dear David,

      Your Sept. 11 story is compelling and I appreciate the metaphor. I also do not know how I would feel if we had still lived at 22nd and Broadway that September. I can’t say.

      I bristled when I read your story, as I imagine you bristled when you read mine. We see this issue differently. I am serious about my dedication to talking to people who see things not as I do, but, of course, it is not easy.

      I do not intend to attack you; I do, though, intend to make it clear when I do not agree with you. I hope you will not take offense. What else can I do?

  10. david osman September 26, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    I did not get offended. Friendship is bigger then politics. Although I am a tea drinker I do not belong to any political movement.
    I just hope that that emotions would not overwhelmed facts. Let’s agree that facts belong to both sides and as well as ignorance.

  11. david osman September 26, 2010 at 6:32 pm #

    September 26, 2010 Publisher – Ted Sampley

    What Thomas Jefferson learned
    from the Koran

    By Ted Sampley
    U.S. Veteran Dispatch
    January 2007
    Democrat Keith Ellison is now officially the first Muslim United States congressman. True to his pledge, he placed his hand on the Quran, the Muslim book of jihad and pledged his allegiance to the United States during his ceremonial swearing-in.

    Capitol Hill staff said Ellison’s swearing-in photo opportunity drew more media than they had ever seen in the history of the U.S. House. Ellison represents the 5th Congressional District of Minnesota.

    The Quran Ellison used was no ordinary book. It once belonged to Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States and one of America’s founding fathers. Ellison borrowed it from the Rare Book Section of the Library of Congress. It was one of the 6,500 Jefferson books archived in the library.

    Ellison, who was born in Detroit and converted to Islam while in college, said he chose to use Jefferson’s Quran because it showed that “a visionary like Jefferson” believed that wisdom could be gleaned from many sources.

    There is no doubt Ellison was right about Jefferson believing wisdom could be “gleaned” from the Muslim Quran. At the time Jefferson owned the book, he needed to know everything possible about Muslims because he was about to advocate war against the Islamic “Barbary” states of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Tripoli.

    Ellison’s use of Jefferson’s Quran as a prop illuminates a subject once well-known in the history of the United States, but, which today, is mostly forgotten – the Muslim pirate slavers who over many centuries enslaved millions of Africans and tens of thousands of Christian Europeans and Americans in the Islamic “Barbary” states.

    Over the course of 10 centuries, Muslim pirates cruised the African and Mediterranean coastline, pillaging villages and seizing slaves.

    The taking of slaves in pre-dawn raids on unsuspecting coastal villages had a high casualty rate. It was typical of Muslim raiders to kill off as many of the “non-Muslim” older men and women as possible so the preferred “booty” of only young women and children could be collected.

    Young non-Muslim women were targeted because of their value as concubines in Islamic markets. Islamic law provides for the sexual interests of Muslim men by allowing them to take as many as four wives at one time and to have as many concubines as their fortunes allow.

    Boys, as young as 9 or 10 years old, were often mutilated to create eunuchs who would bring higher prices in the slave markets of the Middle East. Muslim slave traders created “eunuch stations” along major African slave routes so the necessary surgery could be performed. It was estimated that only a small number of the boys subjected to the mutilation survived after the surgery.

    When American colonists rebelled against British rule in 1776, American merchant ships lost Royal Navy protection. With no American Navy for protection, American ships were attacked and their Christian crews enslaved by Muslim pirates operating under the control of the “Dey of Algiers”–an Islamist warlord ruling Algeria.

    Because American commerce in the Mediterranean was being destroyed by the pirates, the Continental Congress agreed in 1784 to negotiate treaties with the four Barbary States. Congress appointed a special commission consisting of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, to oversee the negotiations.

    Lacking the ability to protect its merchant ships in the Mediterranean, the new America government tried to appease the Muslim slavers by agreeing to pay tribute and ransoms in order to retrieve seized American ships and buy the freedom of enslaved sailors.

    Adams argued in favor of paying tribute as the cheapest way to get American commerce in the Mediterranean moving again. Jefferson was opposed. He believed there would be no end to the demands for tribute and wanted matters settled “through the medium of war.” He proposed a league of trading nations to force an end to Muslim piracy.

    In 1786, Jefferson, then the American ambassador to France, and Adams, then the American ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the “Dey of Algiers” ambassador to Britain.

    The Americans wanted to negotiate a peace treaty based on Congress’ vote to appease.

    During the meeting Jefferson and Adams asked the Dey’s ambassador why Muslims held so much hostility towards America, a nation with which they had no previous contacts.

    In a later meeting with the American Congress, the two future presidents reported that Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja had answered that Islam “was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Quran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

    For the following 15 years, the American government paid the Muslims millions of dollars for the safe passage of American ships or the return of American hostages. The payments in ransom and tribute amounted to 20 percent of United States government annual revenues in 1800.

    Not long after Jefferson’s inauguration as president in 1801, he dispatched a group of frigates to defend American interests in the Mediterranean, and informed Congress.

    Declaring that America was going to spend “millions for defense but not one cent for tribute,” Jefferson pressed the issue by deploying American Marines and many of America’s best warships to the Muslim Barbary Coast.

    The USS Constitution, USS Constellation, USS Philadelphia, USS Chesapeake, USS Argus, USS Syren and USS Intrepid all saw action.

    In 1805, American Marines marched across the desert from Egypt into Tripolitania, forcing the surrender of Tripoli and the freeing of all American slaves.

    During the Jefferson administration, the Muslim Barbary States, crumbling as a result of intense American naval bombardment and on shore raids by Marines, finally officially agreed to abandon slavery and piracy.

    Jefferson’s victory over the Muslims lives on today in the Marine Hymn, with the line, “From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli, We fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea.”

    It wasn’t until 1815 that the problem was fully settled by the total defeat of all the Muslim slave trading pirates.

    Jefferson had been right. The “medium of war” was the only way to put and end to the Muslim problem. Mr. Ellison was right about Jefferson. He was a “visionary” wise enough to read and learn about the enemy from their own Muslim book of jihad.

  12. Philippe September 27, 2010 at 12:47 am #

    For perspective I recommend this news item
    , and this one *here*.

  13. jenny September 27, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    @ Philippe: Thank you for the links. Needless to say, both articles express views that speak to me.

    @David: After I left New York, for better or for worse, I went to law school, and I have spent a lot of time around the fringes of civil rights issues. When you say to me that Islam does not need my protection, I don’t disagree, but I feel that individual Muslims might.

    • david osman September 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

      i would defend a right of the individual as well.my argument is with the ideology. as an orthodox Cristian at times i would depart from political arguments of Russian Orthodox church which closely associated with the Russian state. i do tremble in my boots when i hear church and state in the same sentence. my argument is and was against religion as a political movement. I do believe that a person could be an agent of god not the agent of foreign power. this is the confusion.
      The question of Islam for me is not a question of the right to worship. It is a question to what end. As individual I have a right to own a gun and to keep it at home but i do not have a right to use my gun to enforce my political views by using it.
      Klan is a religious organization. will you defend their right to conspire and to kill in the name of religious freedom

      • jenny September 28, 2010 at 7:18 am #

        David, without jumping into my feelings about the Klan, let me just say that I was prompted to speak of individual Muslims by your blanket characterization of them, even the ‘good’ ones (your term), many of whom are our compatriots.

        I will be sorry if our culture decides to think this way about Muslims, whatever it may think of Islam.

        I credit my priceless Russian experience for teaching me that we should care more for people and less for ideologies. I imagine we agree about that.

  14. david osman September 28, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    absolutely. i have a feeling we are talking about the same thing. i guess the lesson for me is that some serious issues cold never be funny and i hope you could agree that the most serious issue could be made fun of.
    I love tea but i do not belong to any movement associated with beverages. i think you generalized me. you took my story seriously and literally but i was pulling your leg

    • jenny September 28, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

      David, I really do like to believe that we can joke about anything. I may have to reflect a bit on my own reactions.

  15. jenny October 22, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

    From Maureen Dowd’s Op-Ed in the New York Times on October 16:

    “With casino red suit and lipstick, Angle played the Red Queen of the Mad Hatter tea party, denouncing career politicians and ordering ‘Off with your head!’ and ‘Down with government benefits!'”


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