A HISTORY LESSON, PART 2.
The silence lasted for nearly a full thirty seconds before Mr. Bristol skittishly murmured under his breath and nervously rubbed his hands. The students of room 3003 all looked at each other, at Jesse and their teacher, and into space, and could not rationalize how to react to what they were witnessing.
“I appreciate your passion, Mr. Maith,” Bristol said, “but you can’t sit there and tell me with a straight face that their efforts weren’t in vain! Do you see armed soldiers on every street corner like in China to enforce state loyalty? Do you see criminals executed without trial like in Brazil? Do you see cameras on every streetlight like in England; which, by the way, is why I came here? To escape it?! I threw my union jack flag in the rubbish bin when I came to the DRF!”
“And you don’t think those things aren’t coming to the DRF, too?!” Jesse passionately rebutted. “Are you blind?! Sir, I get you uprooted your family to come here, and that took a lot of courage! But now, being a Freedomer, surely you know the two golden rules we live by!”
“Peace or death, Jesse!” Bristol replied while exhaling all the air out of his lungs to inflect his syllables. “And treat others the way you want to be treated, mate!”
“Wrong. The second rule is do not violate the Third. Yes, Freedomers are a happy folk. We subsist charitably while fostering a sense of community and safety. But does anyone here want to tell me with a straight face they are free when you must abide by a life-or-death mandate?! In you-know-who’s former United States, its citizens could inexorably criticize him without fear of persecution or imprisonment. But here, in the DRF, criticism of the Ultimate Minister is a practice analogous to walking a legal tightrope, and God help you if you do not walk it carefully! Why do you think we have to say you-know-who, and not the man’s name itself? When you lived in England, sir, you had to refer to the King or Queen as Their Majesty, right?”
“Your point is well-taken, Mr. Maith,” Bristol replied, “but you don’t believe Freedomers understand that?”
“Half of Freedomers don’t, I can tell you that. Nine-percenters like us either tolerate you-know-who, or they praise him, depending on if the basis of your happiness is exorbitant wealth. Some pryvies are trying their best to forge a prosperous life, but the rest believe that living in tent cities, living off rationed food and power, and watching reality TV at nights and football on Fridays in dilapidated buildings is a by-product of their Joshuan faith! The only way pryvies have any chance to become a nine-percenter is if they join the military – which, again, is by design – and if they don’t watch trashy TV and take the time to educate themselves and learn to read and write better. Shockingly, a lot have! How can such poverty possibly be construed as ‘freedom?’”
“Because that’s their faith, ya muppet!” Bristol snapped.
“No, it’s because they are blissfully ignorant and apathetic! They take pride in their ignorance! Why? Because in this country, any modicum of conflict, whether military, interpersonal, or religious, coupled with saying the W word to describe it, is considered offensive, and they lack adequate education like, thus they lack critical thinking skills! Why is the pursuit of owning a holoTV so important to your social standing? Why do prvyies spend whatever pennies they earn putting down payments on one instead of buying food?”
“You’re implying that because pryvies don’t attend a place like Everton, that they can’t realize the nature of their reality?”
“Turn on FNN if you dare. They interview prvyies all the time, especially those that validate their echo chamber! I mean, they freakin’ praise the DRF as a corporatocracy although they live in poverty, and they will never benefit economically! The tax laws in this country are designed so prvyies never, ever reach the nine-percent! They’ll never secure seven-figure-per-year or more jobs and cultivate economic, political, and social influence! Economic imbalance means power! You-know-who wants it this way! And pryvies will fall in line because they think it was all Joshua and God’s will! If…if they ever, ever could comprehend that the DRF’s literacy, math, science, geography, English, and history scores rank ninety-five percent less than New Alaska, Russia, and China, the three most ‘evil and religiously uncleansed’ countries on earth, as FNN calls it?! What then? They would revolt! But they won’t! Their irrational fear of not possessing holographic entertainment technologies – which has come to symbolize Freedomian patriotism - completely outweighs their desire to engross intellectually challenging and enriching pursuits such as reading, partaking in the arts, or furthering their education! Brazen entertainment, to them, is fine art, and the opera, theater, or art exhibits are sanctimoniously considered unbefitting of attention or respect!”
“What if they want it this way? Why can’t you let them live that way, and be grateful for your privileged life?”
“You think I want this privileged life? You think I like being a nine-percenter? You think me throwing a few touchdown passes on a Friday night changes anything? Not as long as you-know-who is in charge!”
“And you know this - how?”
“You-know-who is one of the great used-car salesmen of all time. When he was US President, he was one of the first of his faction to acknowledge the existence of man-made climate change, and he proposed numerous initiatives to combat it. His movie-star looks that accentuated his charisma coupled with his manipulation of young voters got him elected President at forty. His victory was a miracle, especially considering his predecessor attempted to start a nuclear war against a foreign nation that was no threat simply for the sake of flexing their steroidal military muscle, expanding an energy monopoly, and to prove a point to their detractors.”
“How is that relevant to the DRF now?”
“You-know-who may not look like a Hollywood hunk anymore, but he is still the same clever, paranoid, and calculating rassie he was before the Endgame. Take the Third, for instance. One of the great sell-jobs in history; a bolshie and supercilious addition to the Divine Treatise personally penned by the man himself! And now, the Third is a concession that Freedomers accept implicitly and existentially. It is an abstinence of criticism by name of its highest-ranking government official they take in exchange for a subsistence deficient of government interference. The most patriotic of Freedomers will scream that to your face, but what they’ll blindly refuse to believe is that their hypersensitive leader and Joshua worshipper equates disparagement of him, even trivial attacks on the sound of his gratingly authoritative baritone voice, as a crime against the state. And it also produced a sickeningly genius result: The Third is psychologically omnipresent and palpable within all Freedomers. We not only refrain from audibly criticizing our pseudo-dictator, but we recognize the cognizance and supremacy of The Third as a sort of virtual neighborhood watchdog agency in our minds, stationed there to avoid treason. You-know-who sold it as the key to maintaining a peaceful, non-interventionist society, not only allowing Freedomers to practice ‘peace or death’ without fear of experiencing another deadly military conflict, but allows him, and anyone who supports him or believes in him, to worship money and Joshua Evans in peace!”
After a brief pause, the students clapped in approval. Shortly after, Bristol sarcastically commenced a golf-clap, seemingly suggesting both reverence for his prized students’ applied knowledge, but also contempt for usurping his educational aptitude.
“Well, Mr. Maith,” Bristol deadpanned, “congratulations, you’ve successfully managed to sum up the philosophies of all those bloody stupid conspiracy sites on the interlink!”
“Are they?!” Jesse sternly challenged. “Will you be saying that when you’re forced to take a loyalty oath at laserpoint?”
“Okay, that’s enough!” Bristol snapped, pounding his fist on the desk in front of him, “get out! Again!”
“You got it!” Jesse roared, his retinas streaming crooked lines towards his retinas, like a river delta of red flowing into the ocean. He yanked his backpack off the floor, and walked by Bristol, gritting his teeth as he passed. When Jesse stood in front of Bristol’s desk, he turned back toward his teacher, completely ignoring the mortified looks of his classmates. “Oh, and did you know that FNN and NOR are state-owned?” he continued. “You-know-who designed it that way to foster the illusion of free thought and choice! That’s why NOR has not been wiped off the face of the earth despite their constant criticism of him! They walk that tightrope! Successfully! Someday, that Third Indentation will no longer appear on that mural over there!”
“OUT! NOW!” Bristol cried as his right arm nearly fell out of his socket after reaching it out to adamantly point his finger.
“PROJECTDRIHT.LINK! THIRD SPELLED BACKWARDS! LOOK IT UP!” Jesse screamed, “LEARN ABOUT THE SHANGHAI SOVEREIGNTY BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE! LEARN ABOUT THE REAL ENDGAME!” Jesse continued as he disappeared into the hallway.
Once again, the tenants of room 3003 sat silent, incredulous. Then, strangely, the class’ attention turned toward Matt. However, as his classmates watched him with anticipation of a perfectly timed quip, Matt remained perplexed.
“What?!” Matt cried. “I’ve never heard of the word driht!”