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The Two Faces of…

Leading the double life.

Janus, the two-faced Roman god.

He was the god of duality. Beginnings and endings, war and peace. The god of transitions, abstract or concrete, sacred or profane. The god of motion, actions start because of him, followed by movement and change. His two faces see the past and the future. In the mundane world, Janus is the god of entrances and exits — doorways, gates, passages and bridges.

Yet Janus isn’t the only one with two faces.

I’m referring to the people who helped build the world we know today. Art. Fashion. Technology. Entertainment. And more.

You know the names. Pablo Picasso. Coco Chanel. Steve Jobs. Thomas Edison. Wilbur and Orville Wright. Henry Ford. Charles Lindbergh. Charlie Chaplin. Bill Cosby.

Life is about duality.

All these icons were brilliant. And they were motherfuckers. Each and every one of them. I’m not going to catalogue their sins. Easy enough to find out — just google them.

Except for Henry Ford. I’m gonna talk about him. When I think of the U.S.’s current political condition, I think of Ford. A Nazi sympathizer. Thought Hitler was a great guy. Aside from his personal prejudices, Ford thought a fascist government would be a fantastic business asset. Worked for Germany. Krupps, the munitions manufacturer. Hugo Boss (yes, that one) the Nazi’s clothier. Mercedes-Benz. And many more. Fascism made these companies and their owners fat and rich.

Ford wanted a piece of that. So, Ford, Prescott Bush (the father and grandfather of those two guys), J.P. Morgan, Jr., and several more formed the American Liberty League, and who, all together, held nearly $40 billion in assets (that’s $778 billion today). They were also pissed that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had taken the U.S. off the gold standard, thinking the move could wipe out all their riches. They ginned up a plan to overthrow FDR and install a “Secretary of General Affairs,” reducing FDR to a figurehead. Their boy to lead an army of veterans was retired Marine Corps General Smedley D. Butler, who promptly turned these treasonous assholes over to J. Edgar Hoover, the notorious first Director of the FBI.

It wasn’t wishful thinking, folks. These mofos had a plan, and were ready to execute when the time was ripe. They picked the wrong guy, though. Butler was popular and had the pull to assemble the army, but he hated rich people. He wrote a book, “War is a Racket,” in which he said that every war he’d ever fought was to benefit the “millionaires and billionaires.” If he’d been a different kind of man, though…

The day and night resides in all of us.

Congressional hearings were held. Butler testified. Nothing came of them, except to say “yeah, it’s all true, it really happened.” It’s thought that FDR cut the traitors a deal — back off of his policies, and they won’t be tried and executed for treason. If you’re curious, you can check out those committee hearing transcripts on the U.S. government’s website. Pretty sure it’s

But it sounds kinda familiar, doesn’t it? January 6, anybody?

The U.S. is in the same place now as it was then. The country’s wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. Personally, I think January 6 was a test run. I hope I’m wrong.

As for the two faces of the other sonsabitches I named…

They were horrible people. Do we cancel them and boycott their contributions that have undeniably shaped the world world we know today? Steve Jobs. Ain’t nobody givin’ up their Apples, you can be sure of that. Ain’t no woman gonna give up her Chanel. Hugo Boss is still selling clothes like, well, a boss. Mercedes-Benz is still a status symbol. And you can bet your sweet ass ain’t nobody gonna give up air travel.

Separating the good from the bad isn’t easy.

I do have something to say about Bill Cosby, though. A brilliant comedian who did wonders for children’s educational television back in the day, and who, at the same time, is irredeemably despicable. But here’s the thing. The Cosby Show depicted Black people as prosperous, well-adjusted members of society, which had never been done before. A personal experience: While in college, a group of us, Black and white, were discussing The Cosby Show. One of the white women said “Black people don’t live like that.” I blurted, “I do!” Several other Black women chimed in. The look of total shock on her face…she actually thought The Cosby Show was FANTASY. That’s why the show was important. Aired by the mainstream media, it showed everybody that there are Black people who really DO live like that. So, are we going to ignore the show’s positive impact on U.S. culture because Bill Cosby is a contemptible human being?

As for me, I won’t ignore the positives because of the negatives. I can separate the art from the artist. The technology from the tech wizard who created it. Doesn’t mean I admire them. It simply means I can appreciate what they did, even though I detest who they are.

Makes me wonder, though. Do we all have two faces? Not to the extremes I’ve mentioned, yet nevertheless, the face we show in public and the one we show in private? Do we not realize it because we’ve never stopped to think about and become aware of it?

Maybe, in the end, we’re all Janus.







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