They’re Not Like Us, Are They?

Wesley was a bigot, but he was a reasonable one. While most of his prejudices were handed down from his father, Wesley had never had the same zeal for zealotry and tried to apply an empirical model to justify his beliefs. This was fine as far as it went, but as he grew up and his experiences varied he found that his assertions were not as certain as he had once believed. He had spent the first twenty-two years of his life stating categorically that white people were mentally and physically superior to black people, but he had to let go of this notion after getting the shit beaten out of him by a Kenyan semiotics professor. As he tended his wounds, Wesley had no choice but to admit that he was wrong. He resigned from the Aryan Brotherhood and set about finding a new group of people to discriminate against.

Undeterred, he set about proving the inferiority of women, declaring himself to be an unrepentant misogynist and seeking at every turn to denigrate the female gender. Although his constant invective made him a social pariah, he nevertheless managed to convince a naïve young woman to marry him. This, he thought, would be a chance to really prove his point about the superiority of men, which he did with a constant barrage of physical and mental abuse. Finally, when she could take it no more, his wife responded by stabbing him with a carving knife. The wound almost killed Wesley, but when the chain of events leading up to it was read out in court, the judge (a man) declared the assault as justifiable self-defence and ruled that Wesley should pay damages. Wesley was forced to conclude that men were not superior and another avenue of hate was closed off to him.

He remained undaunted, however, and set out to find a new group of people to hate. He tried anti-Semitism, but found he had a real taste for matzo ball soup and thought Woody Allen and Jackie Mason were hilarious. Similarly, his attempt to wage war on Islam came undone when he actually read the Qu’ran in order to ‘know his enemy’ and actually found it to be rather beautiful.

It was depressing. It seemed all people, no matter what shape or hue, had their merits. Wesley was starting to think that maybe he wasn’t cut out for the prejudice game after all. It was then that a bright idea struck him. Rather than concentrate on a section of humanity to despise (and then have to revoke his prejudice when it was proved false) he should concentrate his efforts on creatures that were by their very nature sub-human. He would turn his bigoted eye on the animal kingdom and prove that he was at the top of the food chain.

Well, not at the top, exactly. He couldn’t claim superiority over the creatures larger than him. He wasn’t about to pick a fight with a lion. Or a bear. Or an elephant, shark, alligator, rhino, gorilla, tiger or octopus. In fact, he didn’t feel comfortable having a go at any animal larger than him, so that ruled out horses, cows and even some large pigs. And, if he was honest, he didn’t like the idea of antagonising anything poisonous, so he decided not to pick on snakes, squids, frogs or lizards. He had no great love for dogs, but had to concede that they helped blind people and were useful for finding drugs in airports. Cats were small enough to be picked on, but were too aloof to take any notice of his ranting and as such made frustratingly unsatisfying victims. And he really couldn’t be bothered chasing mice, voles and hamsters around.

That left insects. Those bastard insects, coming into our homes and gardens, eating our sugar and buzzing on our windows. They would have to pay.

Pleased that he’d finally found an indisputably inferior victim, he set about taking his prejudicial actions to new extremes. Having rounded up a collection of maggots, he created a small concentration camp to house them in. This, he decided, was the perfect way to show them the error of their ways. Wesley’s position as prison warden only lasted a few weeks, however, after which the maggots turned to flies and buzzed away over his carefully modelled guard towers.

Non-winged insects, then. They were the real problem. They were the ones coming here and ruining everything for us decent, two-legged mammals. Reworking his concentration camp into a work-farm, Wesley installed a colony of ants – racially inferior ants – to work as his slaves. Occasionally, he would fry one or two with sunlight and a magnifying glass, but found this lacked the visceral impact he was after. After a short period of experimentation, he created a small gallows using a bonsai tree and fishing wire, which he used to hang the occasional ant as a warning to the others.

Truth be told, however, it wasn’t that satisfying. Asserting yourself superior to ants didn’t seem that much of an accomplishment. Besides, Wesley had to admit a sneaking admiration for the way the ants worked together. It was like they were all striving for some greater good. Like communists.

That gave him a shock. His dad had always told him that communists were evil – the puppeteers of blacks and jews. His dad had been a great racist – never questioned his beliefs or thought about what he was saying. Wesley had never really been able to live up to his dad’s standards of bigotry and now that the old man was dead, he would never know if his own discrimination would have pleased his father. Perhaps, then, the best he could do was try to live a good life and be happy.  Perhaps it wasn’t necessary to express hatred of a group of people just to honour the memory of one dead racist. Perhaps, Wesley thought, he should just try to be nice to people. It sounded like a good deal to him.

He took his concentration camp into the garden and let the ants run free. Staring out into the afternoon sun, he felt good about the world for the first time. So what if he turned out to be a communist, or a liberal or even a socialist? It wasn’t the worst thing that could happen.

It was at that moment that a bee stung Wesley. In and of itself, this would have been simply unfortunate (and slightly ironic given his reformed view of the world), but matters became decidedly worse when Wesley had an allergic reaction and went into anaphylactic shock. He was dead in seconds.

Freed from the mortal plain, Wesley’s spirit entered a state of awareness that the living can never experience. He was aware of the universe both as a whole and as each individual component and saw that each and every part was equally necessary. Every dimension became clear and Wesley’s consciousness was able to see how his life had touched those around him and how his actions had rippled out throughout the totality of space and time. Past, present and future were as one and formed the true holy trinity. Wesley’s consciousness reached out to his father and they stood together, finally able to see and share the breadth and beauty of all creation. In that moment, Wesley turned to his father and said that he got it now, that he could see that everything was connected and the idea was to harmonise and spread love throughout the universe.

His father turned to face him, his eyes shining with tears and in a wavering voice said:

“Fucking poof.”

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