By James Wigderson for Media Trackers
It turns out Bill Penzey is an old movie buff. The owner of Penzy’s Spices is remembering the 75th anniversary of Casablanca with another spice special in his latest email to customers. Conservatives, however, may find the spices a little bitter to the taste when they read what Penzey thinks of them. Trashing his conservative customers has become a Penzey staple and he’s previously claimed it hasn’t hurt business.
“Where once it was a telling of our past, history has turned full circle to the point where Casablanca is now ripped from today’s headlines,” Penzey wrote in the email. “We’ve let totalitarian nationalism take hold of the Republican Party.”
The good news, according to Penzey, is that watching Casablanca will save the GOP’s soul.
“To set it free will take a specialized set of skills,” Penzey wrote. “Casablanca has just those skills.”
It’s unknown when the Republican Party re-opened the concentration camps or when they decided to invade Poland and France, which is essentially what Penzey claims. Penzey did not return a call to his “Comments for Bill” line asking for clarification.
However, Penzey is a little muddled in his history and sees America as Paris in 1940 before the Germans marched down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Penzey the film critic sees the Paris of Rick and Ilsa not as a physical place but a dream.
“But for lack of a better word, Paris was, to those who experienced it in the ‘30s, a sacred city, much like how, to those who experienced it before this time of unlimited corporate political spending, America is a sacred country,” Penzey wrote, without noting the irony of his own corporate spending to advance his politics. “Both were about goodness and ideas and equality. To see places like these overrun by such brutality is just soul crushing and risks making it seem like the goodness was never there at all, that goodness itself is not real.”
Yes, to Penzey, America is just like Occupied France, “overrun by such brutality.” Foreign troops occupying much of the country while a puppet regime cooperates with the Nazi dream of making the continent Judenfrei. Worse, Americans are being subject to all sorts of economic deprivations and denial of free speech. Penzey had better be careful or the new version of Major Strasser might have him arrested, tortured or shot while “trying to escape.”
But Penzey sees a silver lining even if President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan are Nazis.
“If there is anything positive about Nazis it’s that nature does not produce many of them,” Penzey wrote. “There really are not that many Trumps and Ryans out there who, after a lifetime of having others do so much to help them, turn around and use the power they’ve been given to hurt those in need. The good news is, there are simply not enough of them to take and hold the world unless the world loses the will to resist.”
After that, Penzey takes a few shots at Trump’s personal life, including the story about the porn star he allegedly had paid off to keep quiet about an alleged sexual encounter, as if that is somehow contributing to totalitarianism. Somebody should explain to Penzey that Hitler was only married once if the spice-seller is going to make that analogy.
It’s also unknown if Penzey was just confused by Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris when Owen Wilson returned to the 1920s, not the 1930s. Regardless, by the time France was invaded in 1940, the country was deeply divided with more than a few Frenchmen sympathetic to Fascism (Coincidentally, some American Progressives were admirers of Fascism as well.) The division and fascist sympathies contributed to France’s swift surrender. Hardly a romantic, idealistic time for the City of Lights, and why Rick might have said, “It’s not my particularly beloved Paris.”
Actually, it’s shocking how little Penzey knows about Casablanca since he sees some symbolism in the “sigh” lyric from “As Time Goes By” – written before the movie and was considered a placeholder until another song could be chosen. Penzey also praises a script that was being re-written throughout the filming. And, contrary to Penzey’s interpretation, love is actually less important than resisting evil at the conclusion of the movie.
“Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of,” Rick told Ilsa right before she left with Lazlo. “Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”
Ilsa goes with Lazlo so he can continue his work while Rick goes with Captain Renault to join the Free French, quite opposite of love conquering all.
But these mistakes pale in comparison to calling Republicans, the Speaker of the House and the President of the United States – Nazis. Major Strasser and his flunkies may seem somewhat like comical villains, but the real Nazis killed six million Jews in Europe, killed countless others that didn’t meet the Master Race standard, and made war upon their neighbors killing millions more. Penzey should consider visiting a Holocaust Museum and learn a little history before he calls anyone a Nazi ever again.
James Wigderson is the Editor of RightWisconsin. He has seen Casablanca more times than he can count, including on the big screen, and has a framed picture of Rick and Ilsa.