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  • Jerome Kocher

#17. From The Silk Road to the Red Carpet.

For the last two years I have been anticipating my trip through Central Asia following in the footsteps of The Silk Road through eight countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. It’s thirty days of travel through the more unknown “stan” countries. The suffix “stan” simply means “land.” But I’m not going to the “stans” that are in the news like Pakistan or Afghanistan. No. But I would be following an ancient route of trade from the Far East meandering towards Turkey and the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, the first large scale “mall” of the ancient world where you could find anything and everything.

But, for obvious reasons, that has been put on hold due to the pandemic. So at the end of February I will do the next best thing, sort of, by going to four “lands” in a remote corner of the North American Continent - Orlando, Florida. Yes, Disneyland, or to be more exact Disney World with its four lands of the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot. Since it’s February and still winter, I will pass on the Disney Water Park.

My reason for going is to step outside the seriousness of the current moment and the double standard and hypocrisy around us and just have a little fun, even indulge in frivolous distraction. Why not! And besides, it’s in the Free State of Florida where business, schools, sports and entertainment have been open for months, unlike California which has destroyed people’s livelihoods, business, education and yes, high school sports.

But the “happiest place on earth” is not so happy today. I thought I could escape the cancel culture and suppression of free speech by cueing in line for the newest Star Wars attraction, the Resistance. But not so fast. It turns out I am headed into the Belly of the Beast, not Beauty and the Beast. Disney Inc. just canceled (“fired”) Gina Carano of Mandalorian fame. I’ve never watched it, nor do I know who she is. But now I do.

Disney claims Carano is a bigot, a psychopath, a transphobe, and an anti-Semite. LucasFilm declared that Carano’s “social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.” So what did she do? In an Instagram post she compared our current political environment to Germany in the 1930’s where neighbors were encouraged to turn people in for incorrect speech. She was not invoking the Holocaust comparison, but only observing that a culture of canceling and politically silencing any dissent can lead to greater tragedy.

So Disney proves her point by silencing her, firing her. Meanwhile on Capitol Hill the impeachment managers are comparing Trump to the “Fuhrer” and his followers as Nazis. That means me. Now I’ll have to leave my uniform at home. Bummer!

So what about my trip to Disney World. When I go there, I’m sure that if I wore a MAGA hat in the Magic Kingdom, the local citizens (cast members) would notice and something would be said to me or worse. Cancel my Disney MagicBand bracelet? Oh, no! But I’m a coward. I’ve spent way too much money to be there so I won’t ruin it all by opening my mouth or dressing inappropriately. I’ll wear my mask and a blindfold so as not to see the hypocrisy of “happy.”

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