The Wizard of Is

Posted on June 9, 2021


Many of you will remember seeing the movie about The Wizard of Oz. I know I am dating myself and will probably eliminate at least half of my readers. Look it up in Wikipedia.

At the end of the movie Alice discovers a wizard behind a curtain who is manipulating everything, a wonderful old happy geezer pulling handles, squeezing triggers to make everything happen. I’m letting my memory, rather than doing research on the Net, to add details, and maybe even generalities. It was quite a surprise to Alice, played by Judy Garland, when she pulled the curtain back hiding the Wizard. And he was genially surprised too.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“Alice, and you?” she threw back.

“I am a Wizard.” Rent the movie on your Netflix. Your kids will love it. So will you.

I thought about the Wizard as I pondered today’s world, complicated by so many problems that contradict rationality and, indeed, our history. I thought, as a scholar and historian, I really need to research the origins of such idiocies as cancel culture, critical race theory, systemic racism, and communist movements like Black Lives Matter gaining not simply notoriety and momentum, but also acceptance by people who ought to know better. Although I just read where BLM is on the decline in public approval ratings, perhaps because the avowed communist founder is now enjoying capitalism and four new homes she bought with profits from BLM operations. Something about hypocrisy in all this.

So, where did all of this begin, I asked? Is there some inscrutable Wizard–like the one in Oz who Alice discovered– manipulating us all? Some great hidden power we cannot access and/or control? Are the rules of capitalism or Marxism inflexible and unchanging, dictating the whole show? Are we mere puppets on a gigantic stage with the Wizard of Is pulling all the strings? Is he a dingbat Wizard?

People are behaving like dingbats, supporting ideas and issues without any regard for reason or clear thinking. “It is this way because I want it to be this way” kind of thinking. It crosses modern political boundaries by the way.

For example, despite science, many claim the world is going to hell in a handbasket, polluted and warming and flooding and filled with hurricanes and cities going under water. That’s the way it is. Never mind that the earth has gone through cold and warm cycles before, has somehow or another weathered the worse that man can do. We need to do something now!!! Buy your electric car now and go reduced emissions. Who, by the way, is going to produce the electricity for your new pollution free car?

 “Ah, don’t bore me with details Clayton. You don’t understand! How can you? You are simply an old white racist without a whit of morality and compassion in your soul, exploiting all the rest of us [fill in the blank: Blacks, Hispanics, females, LGBTQs, Asians, etc.]. We need to act NOW. More taxes to improve everyone’s life across the globe. Get with it! I wonder if the old Wiz, a white guy by the way, has anything to say about all this?” BTW, where is he when we need him?

Alas, you, not the government, the Church, your family, your friends, the Squad, ex-President Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, now-president Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, or the Wizard is the master of your fate.

The love of your mother and father and close relatives was put in their hearts by God and nature. They will—at least they should—take care of you until you are ready to spring forth, perhaps by the time you are sixteen or seventeen.

In a dog-eat-dog world, perhaps the real Wiz is a messenger from God, like the Word in Scripture, with God’s rules written out for us clearly in the Bible. We are not made in the image of dogs, but in the image of God (try Genesis 1:27), although I sometimes feel like dogs ae better and more loyal friends than humans seem to be to one another these days.

The Wizard of Oz, or Is, or even Id, is not manipulating the handles and buttons behind the curtain. He was a wonderful, colorful, imaginative invention to give Dorothy some comfort about her strange journey in the land of Oz. She escaped with her dog Toto and then made it back to Kansas where she lived happily ever after.

We need to recapture that comforting innocence of childhood, now lost in the modern monsters of media, all shrieking at us as they descend from a videographer’s tortured imagination to wreck us in maelstroms of raw sex, language, drugs, guns, and violence. Even the [not very] Wicked Witch of the West loses in the end, although scaring Dorothy and the wits out of the rest of us who first saw the movie as kids.

There is evil and good on the earth. There is also creative genius among those who brought Dorothy and the Wizard to life and planted in us the memory that goodness always wins out.

Published as “The Wizard of Is” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday June 7 2021

Posted in: Life in America