What if a race war could be fun?
Wait! I don’t mean the real, sad one with a two century winning streak. This is a purely fictional black uprising through a Robert Ludlum filter. The book Insurrection! is the most fun you’ll have with white anxiety short of dating in Florida.
Insurrection! is a novel (or novella, if you have grad school debt) about the black conspiracy to take over the country. Or at least I wish it was. It’s really about taking over three states, reflecting the tyranny of low expectations. If the white insurrection can breach Congress, I’d like the black one to at least shoot for the Supreme Court. We’ve feuded with the bench since 1857.
Before I dive in, I’ll confront two fair concerns. First, I’m not a white nationalist. I applied for a few groups, but they wanted someone “less simian.” I’m also not a hotep, since I have trouble believing black people created the Parthenon, Shaolin Temples, and Good Will Hunting. I simply love human madness and stupidity, two forces stronger in Insurrection! than man’s inhumanity to nearly identical man.
Author Dan Brennan starts things off slowly, with the secret cabal ruling Black America. All of it. The masterminds behind those damn marches interrupting Bewitched reruns have a simple plan:
I said simple, not sane. They’re seizing control of Minnesota by attacking a country club. If this sounds like Hideo Kojima rebooting The Boondocks, then your name is Dennard Dayle and you’re writing this article. Hi Dennard! You’ll find love eventually.
Maybe that’s not fair. Let’s see how Insurrection! summarizes its own plot.
Finally. A lifetime of Jean-Claude Van Damme, tabloids, and Greek incest plays trained me for this. The ultimate exploitation story. I’ve waited for an action thriller about Tucker Carlson’s subconscious since my thesis advisor asked if I was there to clean her office.
Sadly, we can’t start at the Country Club Kumite. Half the book follows a skirmish between the white nationalist “Minutemen” and the “black military underground.” The intent’s something along the lines of “extremists on both sides ruined the racial harmony America enjoyed before 1970.” Judge that for yourself. The black team gives us gems like Corp. Gasson:
Keep in mind: Gasson’s a willing front-line recruit in the war foretold by Anne Coulter. And this is how we meet him. His main motivation for taking up arms against the American Empire less than two years after King’s death is ass. He’s pro “big bottoms” and anti “bony bottoms.” You may be smarter than Corp. Gasson. You’ll definitely live longer (spoilers). But you’ll never have a more committed Hinge answer to “What are you looking for?” Gasson has transcended mortal stereotype and become the avatar of ass men.
Gasson’s teammates are more focused. Take Larry Johnson:
A little less fun than the ultimate ass man. I’ll give Dan Brennan points for efficiency. This character’s smoothly tagged with “likes books” and “KILLWHITEY.EXE.” Killbot Larry represents Brennan’s general thesis on humanity: we’re more than our race. We’re our race and a hobby.
It’d be tough to relate to this guy’s brother, wouldn’t it? Especially if he had the same bias, with poetry swapped for tennis? Keep that in mind later.
On the other team, enjoy the first conversation between white characters:
Here, we have a perfect snapshot of how dullards across the political spectrum imagine racism: robots waking up every morning, throwing the window open, and singing “What a Fine Day for Lynching.” Not normals like you and I, writing timely thrillers. It’s also worth noting they’re talking about Larry/the black Dylan Kleibold, so Brennan felt compelled to make them at least a little right.
The weirdest thing in this book? There’s a chapter that’s good. Not irony-good. Not so-bad-it’s good. Straightforward, semi-literary, junior year writer’s workshop good. The most schizophrenic move a book like this can make.
First, meet Smoke Johnson (I know), black tennis player and asshole.
He’s also KillBot Larry’s brother, implying Larry somehow isn’t a Terminator sent after Kid Rock. Smoke is less racist, e.g. the level of racist found outside of hate crime sentencing hearings. He’s got a game against Bob Volkund, white tennis player and double asshole.
Civility declines. Smoke takes out a few dozen pages of “black in 1970” on Bob’s life, through an exhibition game in a zero-contact sport. It comes off as cooler than all the conspiracy word salad that precedes and follows it.
The hospital treatment, perfectly suited for the amount of sunlight, worked:
I don’t know what this chapter’s doing in this book. It’s off-tone, off-topic, and wholly lacking in cougar fights. My operating theory: the Ghost of Writers Future visited Dan Brennan. It left a cryptic message in graveyard dust:
“Fifty years from now, a Jamaican—No, that is not in Africa—a Jamaican-American nerd will find your book. If you want the future to know you could put two words together, add something of substance. After that, find and slay Edward Zuckerberg. His spawn kills hope. In fact, forget the book.”
The country club also features this veteran, who keeps a vigilant eye open for unannounced jazz-Americans:
I can relate. This is how I felt when I spotted Vlad Tepes, immortal lord of Dracula’s Castle in my neighborhood. Something unnatural was afoot, and a whip was the answer.
Col. Davidson assumes the first black guy he sees in his country club is the angel of death. In every book printed after Insurrection!, this would spark a ponderous speech about tolerance and therapy. Here? I left out Larry’s name. Col. Davidson is totally right. He’s like racist Batman. If you thought Batman is racist Batman, please find a second thought and/or brain cell. Your friends hate you, either quietly or loudly after you leave the room. You are the Chicken Little of prejudice. The author of this racist fever dream from 1970 has a better grasp of literature, race relations, and silence than you.
The glue for this lunacy? The author actually knows things about guns, knives, and tennis. Not so much people. The fight between the black Illuminati and klan benchwarmers unfolds with Tom Clancy efficiency, and none of his awareness of how other people think. And yes, I mean by Tom Clancy standards.
In this plot thread, Brennan also takes the time to caricature indigenous people. The character’s a bit like Tonto, plus forced labor, minus the indignity of Johnny Depp.
If it helps, Smith doesn’t have a good time. Despite his confidence in John Wayne’s Guide to Native American Magic, he gets captured. Earning a role in the book’s best action set piece.
Think of the long, fun history of black guys captured by patriotic vigilantes. Then imagine the race war’s taken a literal turn. What happens to a black soldier captured by the klan’s sister school? Place your bets. Options include “megalynching,” “a week in the Wisconsin court system,” and “forced marriage to a lesser Jenner.”
Did you guess “arena cougar knife-fight?” No. No you didn’t. History’s cruelest slave-owners only got as creative as pitting slaves against each other. Only the mad genius Dan Brennan thought to bring back the coliseum.
Sidebar: while writing the above, I googled “Did mandingos fight cougars?” The results weren’t informative.
Writer’s rooms around the country have an adage. “How do we get paid like the pretty people? Why do cameras turn away from our blighted, twisted forms?” After the wailing dies down, they also say “Always come through on genre.” It’s important to fulfill the promise the audience sat down for. Insurrection! does this with verve, dedicating thirty unforgettable pages to the military siege of a country club.
I’d like to call for unity. Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you think about crosses and kerosene, you should be laughing. This is a cartoon. A mescaline-fueled one from the 70’s alt comics scene, but a hilarious cartoon nonetheless. The image of the mega-Panthers calling in artillery strikes on Norman Rockwell families is hilarious. At this moment, I’m less of a commentator and more of a medium.
The finely-trimmed hedges burn. To what end? Build-up for the best threat in fiction. The black military underground sends a national ransom note to the leader of an atomic superpower. One with nukes, and a button that shoots nukes at the nukeless. Nuclear bombs, nuclear rockets, and for some benighted reason nuclear landmines. And yet:
That’s 1970s money, when one million dollars made you a baron. And let’s be clear: the White House would firebomb every golf cart in the nation before giving up half a Virgin Island. The president responds the way 45 out of 46 commanders-in-chief would: resegregating the country and shooting everyone in decent shoes.
In comedy, some words are crutches. Overusing them can lead to people misinterpreting you. This, in turn, leads to fleeing Comedy Central and agreeing with Joe Rogan about who is and isn’t human. I’m going to risk it here, because I can’t, in good conscience, refer to this scheme and its outcome as anything but the niggapocalypse.
Anyway, I hope you got something from this. Sleep well, knowing there’s no plot against your declining empire. I’m late for the meeting.