On July 2nd Nkechi Diallo was booked and fingerprinted after being arrested for theft by fraud and perjury. In case you’ve forgotten, or (reflecting greater emotional IQ) never knew, Diallo was known previously as Rachel Dolezal. I suppose most of us have at least some idea of who this yoyo is but a brief run through her greatest hits won’t hurt.
Born 11/12/77 in Montana to staggeringly white (Czech, Swedish, German) parents.
Claimed to have lived in a tepee as a child, where her family hunted for their food with a bow and arrow. She actually used the word, tepee.
Claimed (disputed by siblings) a childhood marked by violent abuse.
Began identifying as black in 2007, supported by changes in physical appearance (tanning, hair dying, etc. ) in 2009.
Elected president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP in May, 2014.
Stepped down from the position on June 15th, 2015 after everyone that knew better blew up her spot and outed her as white.
Even if her above mentioned adventure in the legal system represented the remainder of the more colorful (sorry about that) bullet points on her resume (it doesn’t) that would still be an impressive list for someone who has seemed, to me, to be not much more than a needy attention whore with a side order of white guilt. Admittedly lacking in both professional acumen and relevant personal knowledge of the woman, it still strikes me as at least highly likely that having four black adopted siblings and a troubled relationship with her parents might have played a role in what is one of the more emblematically twenty-first century, slow motion, public train wrecks I can recall. If there was ever going to be a singular instance that could make a great argument for blowing up the last twenty years or so and starting all over again this malignantly narcissistic pile of shit would be it. And yet I titled this piece to reflect sincere gratitude, albeit with a sarcastic supporting text. As I see it Ms. Diallo serves a role in society, and in the rancorous times we now face, a particularly important one. A part of the national consciousness for a little more than three years I have never heard anyone I know, or have spoken to about her, say anything positive in regard to our friend Nkechi. She is, in short, a public service asshole. The value of this can not be over stated.
The public service asshole (PSA) has a little commented upon, but nonetheless vital role in a country that has a documented reverence for free expression. With so many antagonistic viewpoints vying for supremacy it’s important for us to have something we can all agree on , now and again. A PSA does just that. It isn’t enough to be simply hated. Lots of people enter the public eye on a regular basis that generate an instant, visceral antipathy to themselves without making the cut. As I recall we had a national contest some twenty-one months ago which featured the two most detested combatants to ever square off for the job of president and neither of them come close to qualifying as a PSA. Whatever level of revulsion either one of them might generate in any single voter, they each have remarkably devoted supporters. When I think of somebody as a public service asshole I’m talking about a virtual unanimity of disapproval even if the intensity of the opprobrium varies from one person or group to another. What’s most important is that despite any philosophical or cultural differences people can all agree on not having anything good to say about the schmuck in question. The fact that the person is disliked with varying levels of enthusiasm for different reasons is not only acceptable, but desirable. The broader in perspective the array of negative opinions are, the wider the spread of the soothing feeling we can all get from knowing that even as we argue too often, and over too many things that shouldn’t matter quite so much, there is someone we can all agree to dislike, even if our motivations are not as uniform as our distaste. Dolezal/Diallo is an equal opportunity offender. Her own siblings have expressed disgust with her extended blackface routine. If you’re of the mind (as I am) that cultural appropriation is, if not much ado about nothing, then certainly too many loud voices with precious little to say, there’s still the pathological dishonesty of her behavior. If none of that gets your blood pressure up then we can always lean on the classic standbys of theft and character assassination as per her unsubstantiated accusations involving her parents. When you examine her behavior in toto, there is no vantage point from which something admirable can be seen. She’s a perfect middle ground example of the phenomena I’m talking about. As nauseating as I find her it’s not like I can’t think of people who fit the bill that engender a more viscerally violent reaction in me, as well as those who qualify as a PSA yet generate less contempt in me as well. Perhaps an example or two would illustrate this best.
When trying to find the apotheosis of the concept of a PSA it would be hard to find a better example than Fred Phelps. Just expressing a personal opinion, but I can’t think of a more universally despised human being (so to speak) than the good Reverend. Founder and leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, his life’s work might reasonably seen as a cautionary tale regarding the eventual price to be paid for dismissing the achievements of Gregor Mendel. As despicable as he and his acolytes might be in my eyes, I realize there is a segment of the population that found itself in accord with even his most rabidly homophobic ravings. Doesn’t matter. In his (far too long) life he still managed to alienate those that might otherwise have been in his philosophical co-hort, by linking his hatred of all things gay to his church’s disgraceful habit of making a spectacle of themselves at military service member’s funerals. At the risk of appearing to say something positive about this group of chromosomally deficient scumbags, I have to admit I was impressed with Phelps’s ability to make enemies out of large numbers of people who were so colossally fucked in the head they should have been his brethren in hatred. He had a gift. His place in the PSA pantheon is secure and his achievements are as obvious as they are broad. In that light he really serves this conversation most strongly on an introductory basis. He created an institution which generated high voltage antipathy from segments of society which might more usually be seen in not particularly respectful opposition to each other, and gave them a small area of common ground. There is nothing subtle about the argument his behavior presents. Our next case is a little less boldly defined, and in it’s own way more demonstrative of the requirements of the designation.
On July 6th Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, tendered his resignation. In leaving the position, he managed to make almost everybody who cared to begin with, happy to one degree, and for one reason, or another. If you come at life from a hard core eco-warrior perspective he represented the enemy pure and simple. Overly friendly to large, polluting businesses he was a calloused, venal enemy of mother earth. If you believed him to be in the right on the facts then his obsessive secrecy and the endless stream of stories centering on corruption and waste in his department were a source of constant mortification. If, like me, you think a legitimate issue (climate change) has been both politicized beyond rational behavior and subsequently turned into a virtue signaling source of conversational irritation, then he has squandered the opportunity to do some real good by enforcing the rules that have value and impact while trimming the blind regulatory excess of the preceding administration. The fact that he lacks the over-the-top personality issues of the two prior losers in this piece makes his case stronger in my mind. Without necessarily inflaming the passions of all parties to the nth degree he still gives us someone who can be truly disliked by everybody involved.
Before I close I thought I’d take a moment to add one more point of interest in support of including Rachel Dolezal in with the rest of the garbage. When seeking to make her identity transformation complete Ms. Dolezal chose a name from the language of the Igbo people of West Africa. When translated to English, Nkechi Diallo means “gift of God”. If you don’t hate her after learning that, well then, let me congratulate you on the lifetime job security, and all the great hats. Only the pope could let her off the hook for that crap.