Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Grasshopper and the Ant

Every now and then I see cut and pastes on the internet forums, homilies and faux personal insights, parables and poems that have been posted by members, eager to share something that they really agree with, also forgetting to mention that they didn't write it, secretly hoping that 'friends' will think "Wow, WhiteWarrior111 really knows where it's at!"
They are usually full of conservative WASP moral values, with a punchline that's as easy to remember, and come in various hues of racism.
Being an old billy-no-mates who doesn't do social and can only look at so much bike related stuff on the Net, I occasionally track their antecedents down, usually wading through increasingly bizarre right wing fantasies before ending up with the BNP site, or some US conspiracy blog.
One such was this:

The ant and the grasshopper.

The ant works hard In the withering heat and the rain all summer long, building his house And laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while he is cold and starving.

CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, And ABC show up to Provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant In his comfortable home with a table filled with food. America is stunned by the sharp contrast.

How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper
Is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper And everybody cries when they sing, 'It's Not Easy Being Green...'

ACORN stages A demonstration in front of the ant's House where the news stations film the SEIU group singing, We shall overcome.

Then Rev. Jeremiah Wright Has the group kneel down to pray for the grasshopper's sake, while he damns the ants.

President Obama condemns the ant and blames President Bush 43, President Bush 41, President Reagan, Christopher Columbus, and the Pope For the grasshopper's plight.

Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid exclaim in an interview on CNN that the ant has
gotten rich off the back of the Grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Finally, the EEOC drafts The Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act
retroactive to the beginning of The summer.

The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number Of green bugs and,
having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government Green Czar and given to the grasshopper.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper And his free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ant's food while the government house he is in, which, as you recall, just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around them because the grasshopper doesn't maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow, never to be seen again.

The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the ramshackle, once prosperous and peaceful, neighborhood.

Note the spacing, to let the prose sink in, or allow room for an inspired underlining slash of marker pen. !! !
Put the first line in Google and the earliest reference to this particular version is 5 years old, on Right Truth, an American blog whose sub title, "counterterrorism, politics, religion, ..." doesn't promise a laugh a minute. And it's true to its promise.
The posts and titles I skimmed were typical of these sites, the POTUS is referred to Barack Hussein Obama and blamed for everything, the comments are surreal and the blogroll is huge, mutually linking other crazies in a webclick popularity Ponzi scheme.
This political spam seems to have cyclical popularity. Most of the other links are recent, near to exactly 5 years after the original, a strangely round number that would indicate some sort of sinister software, accumulating and timing for fixed periods to reactivate random propaganda. Well it would if you were as paranoid about things as the regulars on these blogs.
So, Right Truth, who and what are you? You're edited by Debbie Hamilton, a very wholesome name, very WASPish, pictured in front of The Stars and Stripes
Pretty tasty, huh, in a Barbie sort of way. She just has to have silicon tits and a horse. Anyway, no biog on the blog, no interviews on the Net, but she's on Facebook. She's 60 and lives in west Tennessee. Her husband used to live next door to Carl Perkins.
Her heroes are:
'The passengers of Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. LET'S ROLL! Our military men and women.'

This is the modern version of course, updated to paint recognisable hate figures as left wing wasteful grasshoppers, and the genuine American ants with a blue collar and a red neck.
The whole anthropomorphic comparison is shaky anyway, a true blue Tennesee girl would probably associate "ant" with "communist" in a word association test.
For the original, we go all the way back to the bloke who wrote most of the stories ever written, Aesop and his Fables, around 600 BC. This is number 373 on the Perry Index, drawing the logical conclusion often stated in the separate Moral of the Story punchlines:
"Idleness brings want"
"To work today is to eat tomorrow"
"Beware of winter before it comes"

These are echoed by none other than that most august of historical reference books, the Bible, in the Book of Proverbs, Old (Jewish) Testament 6:6-9:
"Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest"

'....which having no captain, overseer or ruler...."
Which = evidence that G-d is a Marxist.

Number 166 presents a different interpretation, using a cicada beetle as the grasshopper character, as the early Greeks did.
Here the ant was once a man who was always busy farming. Not satisfied with the results of his own labour, he plundered his neighbours' crops at night.
This angered the king of the gods, who turned him into what is now an ant. Yet even though the man had changed his shape, he did not change his habits and still goes around the fields gathering the fruits of other people's labour, storing them up for himself.
The moral in this interpretation is that it is easier to change in appearance than to change one's moral nature.

The French identify the singing wasteful beetle with voluptuous females, hopelessly unequipped for the 'real world' as in this excuse for an ogle "When the north wind came" as a satire on Napoleon's failures in cold Prussia.

French fabulists even enlist a third character, the bee, whose presence breaks the deadlock and they all end up living happily ever after. The Catholics tacked a twist on the end, Updike, Joyce and Somerset Maugham played with different versions for differing reasons, but the modern US version is based on that great American Walt Disney's cartoon critique of that commie bastard Roosevelt's New Deal.
In his version however, the wasteful=artistic Grasshopper musician is cut a deal for food by the hardworking=responsible ant farmer, and allowed enough food to survive in exchange for music lessons and entertainment. This is a very soft line for Disney to take against his own ideological enemies, the spongers and wasters, possibly explainable by the parallel debate about the 'value' of artists to/in society, one of which he undoubtedly was.

In a hard line alternative, the ant refuses this deal when it is offered by the grasshopper, saying "I don't want my children to learn music, I want them to learn something useful to put food in the store."

But Debbie, if no-one learns music, who's going to be in the "rock and roll bands" (that you 'would most like to meat'... sorry meet'), and what sort of 'Lover of Freedom' can an ant really be?

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