Saturday, January 7, 2017
Imitate Your Identity
P.T. Barnum was a genius. Around 1835, when white people would pay good money to see other white people in black face pretending to be black people but would not pay a cent to see an actual black person dance, Barnum rubbed burnt cork on the face of William Henry Lane and stuck a black wig on his head. William Henry Lane was already black. And so with the help of Lane, who managed a better imitation of a black man than any white man had yet done, he cleaned up. Barnum’s level of dishonesty and sheer chutzpah was perhaps never exceeded in America until Donald Trump decided to don his orange coif and run for president. It’s a shame, however, that the glory days of the circus are over. He’ll make a shitty president. He’d make a shitty clown. But he might do a damn good job as a barker.