Gabriel San Roman
Slingshot: Dana Rohrabacher Sure is a Riot!
Updated: Jun 22, 2021
On Election Night 2016, former Huntington Beach congressman Dana Rohrabacher gave a thumbs up for photographers at a Skosh Monahan's watch party in Costa Mesa. The gesture resembled the one often employed by his hero, then-President-elect Donald Trump, for photo ops.
Wearing a red "Make Surfing Great Again" hat, Rohrabacher had much to be pleased about. Trump pulled off an electoral upset that night, one Rohrabacher fervently believed in unlike most other GOP elected officials in Orange County.
More than four years later, a finally unseated Rohrabacher believed Trump won a second term. But instead of partying it up in OC flanked by two blondes, one a plasticized cougar, Dana donned a black beanie and marched alongside the multitude during the pro-Trump Jan. 6, 2021 rally-turned-riot in Washington D.C.
Rohrabacher, who now makes his home in Maine, eluded all recognition until being identified in footage earlier this month by "capitolhunters," an anonymous Twitter account true to its name. Once outed, the ex-congressman confirmed that he attended.
"I marched to protest, and I thought the election was fraudulent and it should be investigated, and I wanted to express that and be supportive of that demand," Rohrabacher told Maine's Press Herald. "But I was not there to make a scene and do things that were unacceptable for anyone to do."
Dubbed "Putin's favorite congressman," he blamed leftist provocateurs for encouraging Trumpers to storm the Capitol Building. After multiple news outlets picked up the story, Rohrabacher doubled down on the conspiracy theories in a post on his website. As the most high-profile politician identified at the march and rally, he reiterated that his participation didn't include any breach of police barricades nor presence inside the Capitol Building (footage places him on the West lawn past such police barricades).
"At one point I saw a guy with a Confederate flag and a rope with a hangman’s noose," Rohrabacher even writes. "He was no right winger. When I pointed out that he was a provocateur trying to smear us as racists he ran away. Had he been a dumb racist he would have stayed and argued his case."
The former congressman would have folks believe that confederate flag-waving protesters at the Capitol riot were really leftist plants tasked with providing bad optics for the day.
It's unlikely that Rohrabacher's would-be Rebel was Kevin Seefried, the alleged rioter who infamously hoisted the Confederate battle flag on his shoulder as he strutted through the Capitol Building. Seefried, according to an affidavit, traveled to DC from Delaware and stormed the Senate Building with Hunter, his son, through a broken window.
Hunter, who helped clear glass from the window, bragged about his participation in the Jan. 6 events only to have a coworker contact the alphabet boys afterward. If only the courageous truth-telling Rohrabacher had confronted the Seefrieds before, he could've scuttled those false patriot antifa provocateurs!
For Dana, dumb conspiracies are nothing new. He deemed the Charlottesville race riot in 2017 "a total hoax" and claimed leftists manipulated Civil War cosplayers to put Trump on the spot.
Of course, there's also the moronic musing of dinosaur farts in response to a report on global warming, making a young undocumented OC woman cry in his office and cosplaying with the mujahideen in Afghanistan back in the 80s.
But for Capitol Riot coordination, Rohrabacher needn't look further than the man who spoke alongside him at a Dec. 2020 "Stop the Steal" rally in Huntington Beach.
Alan Hostetter, a former La Habra police chief, was recently indicted on conspiracy charges related to the Capitol Riot. His American Phoenix Project helped organized the HB rally. There, he called for the execution of the phantom coup's ring leaders. The feds accuse Hostetter of using his nonprofit to advocate for violence against his political opponents.
Rohrabacher's ears must've been balled with wax that day. After being outed at the riot, he insists "there was no indication that violence was on the agenda."
- Gabriel San Román
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Your Mouse Muckraker / Photo by Federico Medina
Two of my chief academic curiosities--Chile in the 1970s and Disney--couldn't seem more remote. But those worlds collide in Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart's How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic. The classic interpretive tome from 1971 has since been translated in multiple languages and sold more than half-a-million copies around the globe.
So why am I only getting my hands on it now?
The only other country where a copy proved hard to find besides Chile, where fascist solders tossed the book into pyres in the wake of the Sept. 11, 1973 military coup ousting President Salvador Allende's socialist government, was the United States, whose government backed the overthrow of democracy. Republished in England, a copyright quarrel prevented a modest shipment of books from reaching readers stateside. Even after a ruling against Disney, only a handful of copies were allowed in.
In 2019, OR Books in New York teamed with the UK's Pluto Press (not named for the Disney doggy) to finally bring How to Read Donald Duck to the land of Disney.
Dorfman and Mattelart tackled Disney comics in Chile during Allende's government as a form of cultural imperialism. It may baffle gabachos to know that South Americans have had to battle an influx of movies, music and comics from Tio Sam just to get their own voices heard over the decades. In Chile, this proved no different as ABC's Disneyland program invaded television screens and Disney comics vied for the imagination of young chilenos.
Under the aegis of Allende's Unidad Popular government, Quimantú, a publishing house, formed to combat Disney hegemony with How to Read Donald Duck among its chief weapons. The authors plucked Donald Duck, so to speak, feather by feather to unveil an original critique of Disney comics. It becomes a sphere where sex is as absent as mothers, where uncles and nephews seemingly spring from nowhere. Similarly, the production of the proles is nonexistent even as Scrooge McDuck swims in a vast sea of gold coins.
Of course, the people of the global south are treated as savages who don't realize the wealth of their resources and give it freely to the enlightened beings from Duckburg.
The book's core thesis is eloquently stated with the said accompanying excerpts of Disney comics that offended the Mouse House's copyright lawyers.
Consider this summation:
"Beyond the children's comic lies the whole concept of contemporary mass culture, which is based on the principle that only entertainment can liberate humankind from the social anxiety and conflict in which it is submerged. Just as the bourgeoisie conceive social problems as a marginal residue of technological problems, so they also believe that by developing the mass culture industries, they will solve the problem of people's alienation."
Now you know why the reopening of Disneyland amid a pandemic was met with tearful Mouse-eared masses (at limited capacity, of course!).
But for all the brilliance of How to Read Donald Duck, it comes with a creepy caveat after the fact.
Filmmaker Roman Polanski, who fled to Europe rather than do time for his crime of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl, adapted Dorfman's Death and the Maiden play into a 1994 flick. When Polanski was arrested in Switzerland en route to a film festival where he was to receive an award in 2009, a petition with heavyweight signatures came to his defense, including Dorfman's, referring to the crime as a "case of morals."
Dorfman became a barf-worthy apologist of the worst variety, even as his younger self made salient points about Disney's ideological corruption of childhood and innocence.
In a #MeToo era, the writer was later questioned about Polanski by an NPR reporter and, while he admitted the filmmaker should do time for his crime, Dorfman also revealed that he handpicked him to adapt his play in an otherwise tortured exchange.
Lead photo: Danasauras! / Photo by Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons