Dispatches from the Rhino POW Camp

Commentary: Publius

Somewhere in the multiverse, in a world far away...

Golden and brimming with potential, the first rays of dawn filtered into a dank prison cell through a small window. The Prisoner lit a candle and knelt next to an icon of Liz Cheney, blinking incessantly. He was being held hostage, deep within the bowels of the Rhino POW Camp.

Suddenly, the euphonious sound of music emanating forth from a banjo resounded within the prison walls. That was the signal that it was time to rise and begin the day’s labors, full of toil and misery. Blowing out the candle, The Prisoner stood up and put on a wrinkled shirt, covering the face of Bill Kristol tattooed across his chest.

As the first order of business each day was breakfast, The Prisoner quickly made his way to the commissary. Arriving at the counter, he was greeted by The Commissar, who was also the cook. He was a jovial, ruddy faced man sporting a scruffy beard, a white cowboy hat, and a vest. A hearty blue collar union hall socialist, The Commissar was truly a man of the proletariat and a firm believer in seizing the means of producing delectable smoked meats. With a wide grin, The Commissar handed The Prisoner a plate heaping with delicious hot BBQ. Inmates at the Rhino POW Camp are served BBQ for all three meals, every day of the year.

The Prisoner took the plate of BBQ and sat down next to a sandy-haired man with a cane, and a secretary, both of whom were also POWs taken hostage by the Rhinos. “You know the worst part of being trapped here in the Rhino POW Camp?” exclaimed the man with the cain. “I don’t get to see my best friend forever, Ron Mertz. Ron has such a warm and fuzzy personality, and I miss him so much. I’d give anything to have a cup of tea with him again.” Before she was captured by the Rhinos, the secretary held the third highest office outside the camp. She was very intelligent and talented, and a great asset to the team. At first a loyal foot soldier, when she started having thoughts and ideas of her own, she ended up in the Rhino POW Camp. There was also a libertarian sitting by himself at the end of the table eating vegan chili with beans. He wasn’t a POW, but he hated roads and kept trying to create committees of ten, so not knowing what to do with him, they threw him into the camp.

The Prisoner returned his plate to the counter. “I’d give you seconds, but I have to get to my other job now,” said The Commissar. The Commissar took off his BBQ-stained apron and pulled a banjo out of a cupboard. The melodious notes of each string were amplified by speakers all over the camp. “These speakers are community property,” said the down home Menshevik. “Of course, to the Marxists, everything is community property.”

The banjo music was the signal that breakfast was over. It was time for “Two Minutes Hate”.

The prisoners were marched into a room with a projector screen. An image of a big Cajun fellow dressed up as Elvis Presley appeared on the screen. He was the Boogie Man, every Rhino’s sworn enemy and worst nightmare. Literally the Antichrist.

No one knew quite what came over them, but during the “Two Minutes Hate” the prisoners were worked up into a frenzy at the sight of the Boogie Man. He was said to at the same time be both a Christian Dominionist and a covert Muslim seeking to smuggle sharia law through the back door. Don’t ask how that works. Perhaps the idea that the Boogie man was a Muslim came about as a result of some subconsciously racially-insensitive old white ladies assuming that anyone who’s complexion is not as pale as their own must be a jihadist. At any rate, it has also been said that the Boogie Man was a Russian spy, although that would seem to contradict the previous theory, unless he was a Chechen.

“I truly do not think the Boogie Man is a bad guy,” the prisoner thought to himself. “Sure he can be a bombastic lout at times, and always seems to be spoiling for a fight, but he is also a hale fellow, well met. He’s exactly the kind of guy you’d want in your corner in a pinch. Also possibly the most talented musician this side of the pond. I hope he doesn’t consider me his enemy just because I’m here.”

Although the Boogie Man is now the primary subject of the “Two Minutes Hate,” in the past an enigmatic character named Eric Leifson was featured prominently as well. Eric Leifson is not to be confused with Leif Erikson, who discovered America after setting sail from Greenland, now the 51st state after being annexed by Donald Trump- the best deal in the history of deals. However, Leifson has not been tormenting the Rhinos with his instrument (said to be a gift from the Norse god Thor himself) as much in recent years. He retired to live in a castle he built himself out of Legos at the end of a gulch, and now spends his days happily climbing mountains barefooted and composing poetry about love and friendship. Leifson is also running for U.S. Senate in Missouri, with Trump’s endorsement.

After the “Two Minutes Hate,” the banjo started playing again, and the POWs were marched out to perform their labors for the day. Those who were able-bodied were forced to cut down trees under the blinding sun to provide wood for the camp under the supervision of a commissar wearing a New York Mets baseball cap. The nerds, of which The Prisoner was one, were whisked away to a room full of cubicles for a far more insidious task.

Under the watchful eye of the Rhino Queen, the prisoners forced to work in the Ministry of Truth toiled bitterly for hours on end churning out propaganda on behalf of the globalist elite. According to those outside the Rhino POW Camp, the Rhino Queen was said to be a powerful sorceress and the “Hidden Hand” behind everything wrong in their lives. Shrinking Republican margins in the suburbs? Clearly her fault. A flat tire? Also her fault. The recent drought? The Rhino Queen is responsible for that too. Just like the Rhino POW Camp had a “Two Minutes Hate” for the Boogie Man, those who have not yet been taken prisoner hold their own hate session featuring the Rhino Queen, although it’s probably more than two minutes.

As for The Prisoner, he did not think either the Boogie Man or the Rhino Queen were evil. Both were misunderstood by the other side, with those on opposite sides of the Rhino POW Camp wall assuming the worst of the other side and always assigning to their opponents the most sinister possible motive. “The truth is that both have far more in common with one another than they realize,” mused The Prisoner. “I know it probably sounds naive, but I bet if the two sides were to sit down and have a conversation in good faith they would find their differences to be quite insignificant. Tribalism is one heck of a drug. It has served our species well for the vast majority of our history, but in this supposedly more civilized age it works more to our detriment. Our cave dwelling ancestors probably didn’t even know how to make a point of order. But then again, do we?”

“I’m here to plan parities and bend every atom in the universe into accordance with my diabolical plans,” said the Rhino Queen. “And I don’t have any parties scheduled right now. Get to work!”

The Prisoner sat down at a typewriter and began to write. As he typed away, an elderly woman in a red dress wearing elephant jewelry held a Gom Jabbar to his neck. One wrong word, and he would be dead instantly. Now a tortured POW, The Prisoner was exploited and forced to read from a script. He remembered fondly all the happy days spent in the blissful naivety of youth with his friends on the outside. How it would break their hearts to see him now. “Everything was so much simpler back then. Everything was so black and white,” he thought. “The truth though, is always more complicated. True wisdom is being able to discern the lines between the shades of grey.”

See, The Prisoner is entirely incapable of independent rational thought. He is utterly unable to form nuanced opinions or positions without being told what to think and write. The only way he could possibly hold to opinions different than your own is if he is being tortured and forced to read from a script under incredible duress. That he could assess the facts on his own and come to a well reasoned conclusion is simply not possible.

While The Prisoner slaved away at his typewriter, a commotion just outside drew the attention of those guarding the walls of the camp. An unruly mob assembled under a giant statue of KEK, the Egyptian frog-headed god of primordial darkness. The mob demanded that Christ present himself to preside over their gathering.

Then Christ went out to confront the mob, as a lamb goes to the slaughter. He addressed the mob with grace and humility, wise as a serpent, but as innocent as a dove. “Have you come out as against a tyrant, with points of order and motions to adjourn? For three years I have sought to rebuild this party, and yet you are still trying to rewrite bylaws?” Then they tried to remove him, but they could not. Many bore false witness against him, but their witness did not agree.

Mr. Hyde turned to Christ and asked, “Are you a king?” And he answered him, “You have said it is so.” Then the mob cried out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Then they yelled in his face, flecks of spittle flying from their lips. They silenced his mic, shouted him down, and some slapped him, saying, “Point of order!”

At the front of the mob stood a Taliban Man, who got right up in Christ’s face. The Taliban Man used to run a feed store, however, he gave up that life and took to the mountains, vowing never to shave again. It is said that deep within his underground compound, he has a wardrobe containing hundreds of identical Magellan shirts.

Standing in the crowd was a woman named Mrs. McCarthy. She held up a large sign upon which was written in all caps, “CHRIST IS A MARXIST.” She shouted into a bullhorn, hoping The Prisoner would be able to hear her, “Is it really worth selling your own soul just for a plate of BBQ?” However, she had a very quiet voice, and the Prisoner, imprisoned in a cubicle, could not hear her, and he continued typing away under threat of the Gom Jabbar wielding women in red dresses.

As all this tumult was going on, a pigeon descended from nowhere, smelling of whiskey and cigars. It squawked unintelligibly about “muh secession” and “rhino hunting” or something like that for what seemed like hours, but was probably more like ten minutes. Everyone pretended that it had actually said something quite insightful and profound, hoping it would toss them a few dollars. However, it left only a mess, as pigeons do, and as quickly as it had appeared it flapped away into the sunset.

Meanwhile, for The Prisoner, the days’ work was finally coming to an end. His wretched, ink-stained fingers ached as he returned to his cell. However, there was one bright spot to this day: He had a visitor.

It was his old friend, Mr. Jacket. Although prisoners in the Rhino POW Camp were not allowed to have visitors, Jacket possessed certain “rhino skills” which allowed him to get in. Literally a “Country Club Republican,” many suspected Jacket to be a rhino himself.

Jacket was the smartest person in every room he entered, and women swooned in his presence. Many people are saying that he is the most talented political operative since Lee Atwater, however, due to his humble and unassuming demeanor, he would never say that himself.

Besides Mr. Jacket, The Prisoner had two other friends on the outside who corresponded with him regularly since his imprisonment. One of those friends was Wilhelm, who slipped letters in past the guards by writing them in code: misspelling words, capitalizing random letters, and otherwise breaking the laws of grammar in creative ways. At first glance, if you did not know the code, they were unintelligible, however, once you deciphered them, they were actually full of valuable insight. The other friend was a very devout Christian and a famous Norwegian YouTube celebrity best known for his association with the prominent Swedish YouTuber PewDiePie, having been featured on his channel. He was said to be preparing for a major undertaking, although just what it was he would not say.

“I’m sorry I helped you end up here,” said Mr. Jacket. “All those Thursday afternoons at Molly’s instructing you in the dark tenants of rhinoism.” “That’s ok,” The Prisoner replied. “They’re going to put you in here eventually when you support Ron DeSantis’ primary challenge to the orange god-emperor.”

“I have a few things for you to lighten your misery,” said Mr. Jacket. Out of his jacket pocket he pulled out some contraband he had smuggled past the guards: a bottle of Guinness, a tattered old National Review, and a cup of chocolate pudding. “You didn’t bring me a spoon,” complained the prisoner.

“Tell me,” said The Prisoner,”What do they say about me on the outside?”

“They say you have gone over to the dark side,” said Mr. Jacket.

He continued, “Mrs. McCarthy says you are clearly a Marxist now. Ron Mertz says you are the worst kind of human of all: a Never Trumper. He thinks you actually voted for Evan McMullin and says because you do not support Trump, you should not be allowed to be an election judge.”

“Also, you have been replaced by this very earnest young fellow as the token young person who says things the boomers like to hear- although he is somewhat less original.”

That instant, the voice of a rhino was heard, saying, “We will get him too. Before the bull moose bellows, the young earnest fellow will deny Pat Buchanan three times. Only then can he become ultra-based, like David French.”

“Tell me, old friend,” asked The Prisoner, “How are things going in the outside world?”

“Idiotic,” ranted Mr. Jacket. “Everyone who disagrees with me is an idiot. So much idiocy everywhere. Idiocy! Idiocy!”

Suddenly, Mr. Jacket explained that he had to go. “I have a date with a certain sultry senator from Arizona,” he swooned. Who’s going to tell him?

Darkness had fallen on the land. The kingdom was ruled by a doddering old windbag who’s cunning advisors whispered in his ear. The orange god-emperor was said to be breeding an army of orcs to seize the kingdom. It had been obvious to The Prisoner from the very beginning that the emperor had no clothes, however, perhaps he would soon get an orange garment to match his orange skin. The masses cried for bread and circuses. Uncouth mobs roved the countryside with torches and pitchforks, burning down everything in sight. The righteous remnant like St. Elizabeth were persecuted as heretics, and casino magnates who cheat on their wives with pornstars were venerated as saints. However, nightfall is always promise- a promise that dawn is just around the corner.

The events and characters in this story are entirely fictional and any imagined resemblance to real-life people is purely coincidental.

Published by Reagan Reed

Reagan is a journalist and educator from East Texas. He has been involved in numerous campaigns, worked at the Texas Legislature, and covered Texas politics for years as a journalist.

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