The Very Proper Gander: A Fable for Our Times

I just finished rereading The Thurber Carnival. A lifelong fan of James Thurber dating back to my childhood phase reading dog and horse books (I cried over his beautiful piece "Snapshot of a Dog"), I have always been charmed by his writing style and am willing to overlook his dated references to his African-American housekeepers and the like. My fondness is perhaps increased by his nearsightedness, since I'm blind as a bat (and now getting farsighted to boot, which is Just. Not. Fair.).

Many years later I am much more equipped to appreciate the impact of his fables. This one bears repeating in full while the "Occupy Wall Street" movement is in full swing worldwide and people exercising their constitutional right to free speech are being condemned as un-American.

The Very Proper Gander
Not so long ago there was a very fine gander. He was strong and beautiful and he spent most of his time singing to his wife and children. One day somebody who saw him strutting up and down in his yard and singing remarked, "There is a very proper gander." An old hen overheard this and told her husband about it that night in the roost. "They said something about propaganda," she said. "I have always suspected that," said the rooster, and he went around the barnyard next day telling everybody that the very fine gander was a dangerous bird, more than likely a hawk in gander's clothing. A small brown hen remembered a time when at a great distance she had seen the gander talking with some hawks in the forest. "They were up to no good," she said. A duck remembered that the gander had once told him he did not believe in anything. "He said to hell with the flag, too," said the duck. A guinea hen recalled that she had once seen somebody who looked very much like the gander throw something that looked a great deal like a bomb. Finally everybody snatched up sticks and stones and descended on the gander's house. He was strutting in his front yard, singing to his children and his wife. "There he is!" everybody cried. "Hawk-lover! Unbeliever! Flag-hater! Bomb-thrower!" So they set upon him and drove him out of the country.
Moral: Anybody who you or your wife thinks is going to overthrow the government by violence must be driven out of the country.

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