Calling All Enfant Sauvages

Stephen Kuusisto, Letters to Borges

Everyone knows what the “enfant terrible” is and to the extent one values resistance to conformity may have a private E.T. Hall of Fame. I’ve had one since junior high school. There are no photos or news clips scotch taped to my walls. It’s all in my head. So who’s in there?

Samuel Beckett; Rosa Parks; Robert Nesta Marley; Sojourner Truth; Leon Trotsky; Carolyn Forche; Wislawa Symborska; John Lennon; Cesar Chavez; Pentti Saarikoski; Frederick Douglas; Richard Wright; Langston Hughes; Chance the Rapper; Voltaire; The Clash; Rodney Dangerfield; Groucho; Allen Ginsberg; all graffiti artists; Wanda Sykes—they were all young and pesky at one time or another—and yes its a long list and unending so long as I have consciousness….Desmond Tutu; Malala despite her saintliness; the young people of Hong Kong and Puerto Rico….

Now a group of enfant terribles is called “enfant sauvage” which means just what you think it means—a savage collection of children. The current putative president of the United States is just now launching his campaign for reelection and his strategy is to label the opposition party enfant sauvages which is to say, primitive, dark skinned, extremist, and dangerous. What’s worse than a socialist? A woman socialist wearing a scarf.

Trump is clever. He will bill his racializing slanders as simple ideology. That will be enough to get the older infants in his corner. We’re going to need a lot more young and angry voters and those formerly known as savages to come out and vote. This is obvious. What’s less clear is whether opposition candidates can sidestep the conditioned interview questions we’ve come to live under—no one questions the questions. The enfant terrible resists conformity. Trump pretended to be one. I think we need a genuine fighter from the left.

I’ll vote for a former savage child but only if she or he understands the plight of Americans who’ve not been helped by Trumpism. By this I mean “deeply” understands. Without such a viewpoint and without this fire the 2020 election will be a humiliating debacle.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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