The Answer to All Our Problems? Midnight Basketball.

I wish I had more time for a proper introduction, but I am very, very happy to introduce you to our very first Brit here at America’s Right, Ian Thorpe. Ian is a brilliant writer, has a long history of great work, and because of his accent can make even the menu from your local Chinese take-out restaurant sound positively Shakespearean.

I look forward to his sense of humour (he is English, after all), to his insight on the upcoming G-20 conference, and to what will hopefully be many future contributions to America’s Right.

– Jeff

By Ian R. Thorpe
America’s Right

One of the many negative aspects (are there any good ones?) of the so-called Obama effect is the disproportionate amount of media attention being given to the utterances of every African-American from comedians and gangsta rappers to the usual suspects, the preacher-politicians. Obama overkill is hard enough to bear, but the rest? They’ve been around for years — what makes anybody think they have anything new to say?

The latest of this ilk to come and give we British the benefit of his unique insight on the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything is The Rev. Dr. Jesse Jackson (D.Phil, University of Sendusthemoney).

The Rev Dr. was allegedly a mentor of Barack Obama in the early days of The President’s march to world domination. It is clear that Jackson was a major influence, as their oratory styles show a shared penchant for incomprehensibility.

Addressing an audience of politicians and media people at a recent event here, Dr. Jackson told them:

“There are children of light and children of darkness,” he said. “One grows tall and multiplies with fruit, the other is stunted. The stunted one is the inferior one. It was denied the light and photosynthesis.”

Multiplies with fruit? That’s either a copulation thing, or a math problem. Either way, this was serious stuff, absolutely vital for people entering the giant leek growing competitions so popular in coal mining areas. But surely Jesse Jackson had not come to England to talk about growing leeks. We have a little more of a clue as to his real meaning from his next nugget of wisdom:

“Children in the light are driven by hope, children in the dark are driven by fear,” Jackson said, apparently channeling Yoda. “There is global street violence and corporate violence. The wealthy are reprimanded, the poor go to jail.”

Reverend J.J. may as well have been talking about the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns. He might even have been talking about the unknown knowns, the things we know but don’t know we know. One of the known knowns was that nobody in the audience knew what he was talking about, and it seemed neither did he.

Eventually, the evangelist moved on to the subject of prisons.

“Prison does not work,” he said. “We have made an industry out of locking up our young men. There are a million African Americans and half a million Latinos in prison.”

From there, it was hard to guess where the lecture would go next. His pithy observations sounded more and more like Chance the Gardener in the film Being There, or perhaps even like Forrest Gump, minus the intelligence. Indeed, Jackson’s speech had now come to a fork in its path. One road pointed to the fact that having one-and-a-half million people banged up was a great way of disguising how bad the unemployment had really become. The other was signposted “fiscal stimulus” as the prospect of letting loose a-million-and-a-half thieves and crooks would certainly trigger a surge in demand for cars, televisions, computers, camcorders and small, expensive, portable items when people replaced stuff that had been stolen.

Some left-wing commentators had spoken of Jackson’s delivery being as mesmeric as Obama’s. It is a sad reflection of the failure of British education that journalists no longer know the difference between mesmerising and stupefying. The politicians were just too polite to interrupt.

A senior Conservative Member of Parliament was the first to break. He stopped The Reverend and reminded him that prison had worked in Boston.

“That was in a period when there was Midnight Basketball,” was the riposte.

Midnight Basketball? Is this the answer to all the ills of our inner city communities? With bated breath the live audience and those of us listening on radio awaited the great revelation of how Midnight Basketball might work for the common good. Alas it did not come, the speaker had not finished with prisons.

“In school they got five free meals a week, in prison they get twenty-one. It’s a step up.”

Hang on a minute, wasn’t he just complaining about young men being sent to prison? So is this a suggestion that prison inmates meals be reduced to five a week? Does he want the poor lads to starve?

The second Parliamentarian’s veneer of reserve was broken. Martin Salter, a Labour MP, tried to goad Jackson into condemning violent video games by asking if such pastimes made the situation worse in inner city areas. One could not help but hope for a reply to the effect that, if the boys could play Midnight Basketball, they would have no need to play Grand Theft Auto or shoot at hos. Alas, it was not to be, as Jesse had further to go into the realms of the surreal.

“Freedom is victory over indecency, equality requires investment,” he proclaimed, continuing is current track. “We must fight the disease with values, a lot more psychologists are needed.”

Leaving aside the obvious question, what was he on and can we have some please?, and the less obvious question, has he not read “Running With Scissors?”, the most fascinating issue Rev. Jackson raised was Midnight Basketball. Everybody was mystified by it. Was it something to do with a type of Urban Zen, a raised state of consciousness? Would people one day say of a great teacher, “he quit crime and debauchery to devote his life to Midnight Basketball?”

Alternatively, perhaps it was a reference to an imagined time of peace and plenty when everybody drove a Cadillac and nobody had anything to do but play Midnight Basketball. Or, perhaps, was it a coded reference to a forbidden pleasure in the way that, in England, the term “French Polishing” more often mean a service offered by ladies of negotiable affection than anything to do with antique furniture?

Perhaps Midnight Basketball is simply a phrase that conjures images of The Golden Age that exists in all our minds and always seems to slip from the future into the past without touching the present. The way to evoke such emotions in Englishmen of a certain age is to recall the days we could take our girlfriend to town, see a show, have supper with wine in a good restaurant, be killed in a terrorist incident as we waited for a cab, have a respectable funeral and still have change out of five pounds.

All that, of course, was in a period when we had Midnight Cricket.

Ian Thorpe is a British satirical writer. Before retiring at a rather tender age following a serious illness, he was a consultant specializing in integrated digital networks. His projects involved him in utilities, banking and finance, oil and chemicals and many branches of commerce and government. He had some writing success in the 1970s and 1980s but had to put that aside because consultancy paid better. He has been contributing at America’s Right since March 2009.



  1. Anonymous says:

    Ian, you’re good. Yes you are.

  2. Gail B says:

    If you have read the techniques in the paper on hidden hypnotism, which is what Obama uses when he reads (I’d like to say “speaks” but he reads his TOTUS), you will understand that Jesse Jackson uses the same lull-into-a-comfort-zone and then-catch-them-off-guard technique when he speaks.

    Although I did not understand WHAT he was talking about (and no one else did either, judging from what you wrote about it), I understood perfectly what he was DOING.

    You confirmed what I suspected about Jackson. I’ve not heard him speak since I learned about the hidden hypnosis, but he is awfully buddy-buddy with Obama. That’s damning enough!

    Ha-ha-ha! Never heard it called “French Polishing” before!

    Ian Thorpe, you are going to be a refreshing and interesting read. Thank you for joining Jeff’s very talented team of writers at America’s Right.

    (And, I hope I haven’t said anything that has another meaning that would be construed as offensive in the British way of speaking.)

    BTW, Jeff emailed me this a.m. about 3:30 about you. He is very happy and excited over having you write for us!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this post – i needed the laugh! Seriously.


  4. Anonymous says:

    OK, now that was hilarious!!

    It’s amazing that even the British press drool over The Reverend’s mumbojumbo like this guy fathered the Chosen One (well, maybe he did …).

    Jeff–is there any way that an audio link could be provided to combine Ian’s insight, delivery, and accent. That would make for some great entertainment in these dark (no pun intended) days.

    Thanks for a wonderful article, Ian.


  5. Laurie says:

    Welcome Ian!! Glad you joined us. Great article…but only one question, “How in the world could you have listened to this long enough to write your article?” My lord I just sat shaking my head at every turn….what was JJ talking about? ..and I have to agree with you…pass around whatever it is he is on.

  6. BlueWater says:

    Welcome! Swimmers are always welcome here.


    Dang, I hadn’t heard from him in a while and was hoping he had passed away.

  8. Laurie in Hutto says:

    It just doesn’t get any better than that! Thank you for the smiles!

    1 of 58,343,671 who didn’t drink the kool-aid
    (bumper sticker of fellow Austinite!)

  9. LIFE COACH says:

    How about children and young people get the 8 to 10 hours of good sleep that they require each night instead of staying up all night perpetuating the black myth that all black kids will play NBA ball. Let’s get back to basics fools.

  10. Gail B says:

    Midnight Cricket!

    Now, that’s good!

  11. Anonymous says:

    At least he’s not as bad as Al Sharpton…JJ’s good intentioned…I think… Although much of what he says, like Al Sharpton, is whacked, but that that was just hilarious!

  12. goddessdivine says:

    Jackson is a babbling fool. Why people give him any credibility is beyond me. Why again is he famous?

    It’s nice to know there’s a Brit who ‘gets it’. Welcome aboard!

  13. Ian Thorpe says:

    Thanks for your welcome. I’m looking forward to doing more. And as someone mentioned audio link, I am working on audio / video now as traffic for written humour is going down the pan. I just bought a sofware package that will allow be to take a still of a person in the news and turn it into a talking head.

    Now al I have to do is get the accents. I’m OK with Gordon Brown’s Scottish and my wife can do The Queen brilliantly. Obama might take a bit of work though.


  14. Ian Thorpe says:

    Gail B,
    (reply to your comment 2nd in thread)

    I’m aware of the tricks motivational speakers use to carry their audience, also how much it depends on people’s desire to to stand out from the crown.

    There is something very dangerous going on in the world, Jeff and one of his contributors touched on it a few weeks ago, a self apponted elite seem to propose a global monoculture and suggest there is only one correct worldview.

    Anyway I will write more about that another time.

    BTW I didn’t listen to Jackson’s speech in full but recorded it then read a transcript and cherry picked the bits I could use. Most of what he said was just racial waffle which is pointless in Britain. Despite some Black activists trying to claim we have similar levels of racism to the US (and I think they exaggerate the problem in America) we generally do quite well on tolerance. Anyone who does not behave aggrssively or speak with a pseudo Gangsta / Yardie accent will be generally accepted. And no matter who we are there are always going to be some people who respond to us in a rude or hostile way.

  15. Lilly says:

    Ian! Warm welcome to America’s Right! Thanks for the MUCH needed humor for the day and glad not all people across the pond are falling for these jokes!

  16. Still a Patriot says:

    Thanks, Ian. That was a welcome respite – laughter is good medicine! I would like to know – what was he doing there? Is he part of Obama's extravagant entourage?
    I'm looking forward to hearing from you again & soon. Thanks, Jeff, for bringing us another brilliant perspective!

  17. Gail B says:

    Thanks, Ian. I appreciate your comment very much, and am looking forward to more articles from you.

    I readily understand why Jeff was so excited over you!

  18. Colin says:

    I noticed you did not give credit to Douglas Adams. Too tired to think up your own joke?

  19. Ian Thorpe says:

    In my opinion the Life, The Universe and Everything reference was so obviously a reference to Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy it seemed spurious to credit it. I used it to highlight the surreal quality of Jackson’s lecture.

    As someone who has done stand up (never full time, I made too much money at my day job)and written for ridio and television I’ll tell you a secret. In the world of comedy we all borrow from each other.

    Would you ask B.O. to credit the originators of the phrases he borrows so freely from British Labour party politicians?

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