One of my favorite cartoon series of all time is Pinky and the Brain.
In the trailer that precedes every episode, Pinky, who speaks in high-pitched glottal stops, asks, "What are we gonna do tonight, Brain?" And the more intellectually adept member of the pair intones, "The same thing we do every night: Try to take over the world."
In nearly every episode, their efforts to achieve world domination fail. One of the exceptions comes in "It's Only A Paper World." In that segment, the resolute rodents use prodigious amounts of papier mache to construct an alternative world. After they finish, they lure Earth's inhabitants to it with free T-shirts. That, of course, leaves our entire planet empty, and thus ripe for takeover by our long-tailed heroes.
Paul Craig Cobb reminds me of them, except that he's not quite as endearing. In fact, judging from his intentions, he's anything but -- and, perhaps, dangerous. But, in a way, he seems to have been inspired by "It's Only A Paper World": He is trying establish his dominion over a place where there were no people (well, almost ).
However, while Pinky and the Brain try to seize control over the world because, well, that's what they do, this Cobb fellow has a less noble purpose: He wants to create a White Supremacist haven in Leith, North Dakota.
He moved into the town -- which had 16 residents in the 2010 Census -- last year and bought more than a dozen plots of land in the area. Now town officials are using municipal ordinances to crack down on his holdings, most of which are rundown. According to mayor Ryan Schock, the town is even considering dissolving itself and ceding its power to the county. "He would still own his property," Schock explained to the AP. "But he can't control the city if there's no city government."
At the end of "Paper World," Pinky and the Brain were left with a planet all to themselves, but no "world" to rule. That left them feeling pretty lonely. I wonder whether Paul Craig Cobb and his followers will feel the same way if they end up owning a few small pieces of the Great Plains but have no city -- no "world" -- over which they can seize control.
Even if that doesn't happen, his efforts will be as futile as those of the furry cartoon heroes. After all, there is a critical mass of young people who think the whole notion of white supremacy (and prejudice in general) is as absurd as the belief that the world is controlled by shape-shifting reptilians. Even more to the point, white people are simply becoming a smaller and smaller percentage of the U.S. -- and world -- population, which would make "supremacy" all the more difficult.
Such facts will not, however, stop Mr. Cobb and others like him from their quest, any more than repeated failures deterred Pinky and the Brain from theirs. The cartoon's writers and producers managed to milk three years' worth of episodes out of the redoubtable ratones' exploits. How long will Cobb and his ilk endure before they become dust in the prairie winds?
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