Once upon a time, there was a shining castle on a hill. It was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that under the law all men are created equal.
Texts from the founders of the castle promised the people they could speak their mind, practice their religion and defend themselves and their belongings. The founders were revered for their wisdom, and in the castle were many monuments and statues to honor them.
The good people thrived, and more good people came. Like all people, they were flawed. But they were always striving for a more perfect union for themselves and their castle.
To fulfill their promise of equality under the law, over half a million castle dwellers died in a great civil war among themselves. Twice they sailed across the seas to save the world – once from fascists and once from socialists. They put men on the moon.
This castle was revered everywhere.
But the world descended into darkness, lies, confusion and evil. Fascists calling themselves anti-fascists looted and burned. Thieves stole property in the name of “social justice.” Monuments and statues of the castle founders were torn down. The texts promising freedom were “reinterpreted.”
Oppressors censored, intimidated, shouted down, assaulted and cancelled those who dared to oppose their rampage. It was a time of barbarism.
The barbarians were not the newcomers. No, the newcomers – the refugees, freedom-seekers and other people looking for a better life – cherished the castle.
Rather, the barbarians were the long-time residents. Unlike the newcomers, some of the long-time residents were privileged not to have witnessed the destruction wrought by barbarians elsewhere. They felt guilty that their castle was prosperous and free while much of the world was not. Others were lazy people who needed rulers because liberty was too much work. Some were just bitter losers at life. Some were violent sociopaths.
To protect themselves from these home-grown barbarians, the people reluctantly built a moat around the castle. Into the moat, they put a giant orange troll to keep out the looting, thieving and lying barbarians.
The troll’s weapons were usually just strong talk, a bad odor, an ugly appearance, a baleful glance and an offensive personality. He carefully cultivated all that and delighted in earning a deplorable reputation.
It was rumored that this rascally troll could breathe fire, which would account for his famous fatuous flatulence, but nobody had actually seen that. The fire, I mean.
It worked. Barbarians want free stuff, not a fight. They fled.
But the barbarian sympathizers in the castle protected by the troll were repulsed by him. “We’re better than that,” they swaggered. “The troll is hateful,” they said hatefully. “He’s colluding with the barbarians,” they argued even as they themselves egged on the barbarians.
They wished and therefore concluded, “Once inside our castle, the barbarians will become civilized. Let’s get rid of the troll, and welcome the barbarians.”
More and more castle dwellers joined in. “Defund the troll” became a fashionable chant among effete princes and coiffed princesses. Even the otherwise honorable Sir Mitt signaled his virtue with a vote to exile the troll.
The troll’s approval ratings in the castle dropped. There was talk of replacing him with an old, decrepit, hair-sniffing, favor-selling, addict-fathering gaffester with hair plugs and tooth caps who used to be simply stupid before he grew senile.
The troll didn’t fear any of this. He’d made a living by frightening barbarians, after all.
As for the castle quislings, the troll had often stood up to feel-gooders naively nurturing their guilt. He even taunted and mooned them from his stinky moat since he didn’t get invited to their Chardonnay parties.
But he felt unappreciated. He enjoyed scaring away barbarians as he frolicked in the mist but he also wanted a little love. Trolls are human too, in a misanthropic sort of way.
One grey night it happened. The mighty troll went away and ceased his fearless roar.
Many people of the castle celebrated. Others, however, wondered what the barbarians would do now that the troll was gone.
They soon learned. The very next night, the barbarians swam across the toll-free, troll-free moat. They slaughtered every man, woman and child in the castle and ate them. Then they tore down the walls and burned what remained.
To this day, barbarians live in the un-rebuilt castle ruins where they conduct periodic pogroms among themselves to cleanse the mob of whomever dares to question their latest lie.
The big orange troll? He lives in infamy. And in Troll Tower where he sadly watches the world burn from his penthouse apartment.
His head is bent in sorrow and a tear rolls down his crusty wrinkled face. He’s always looked horrible, and still does, but he loved those people and that place.