The Wizard of Oz -Revisited Again and Again -10-31-08


 The Wizard of Oz revisited Again and

A 19th Century Story Relevant Today!


Richard J. Garfunkel

October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

On the deserts of North Africa in 1941 two tough Australian brigades went
into battle singing:

Have you heard
of the wonderful wizard,

The wonderful
Wizard of Oz,

And he is a
wonderful wizard,

If ever a wizard
there was.

It was a song they had brought with them from Australia and would soon spread to England.
Forever afterward it reminded Winston Churchill of those “buoyant
days.” Churchill's nostalgia is only one symptom of the world-wide delight
found in an American fairy tale about a little girl and her odyssey in the
strange land of Oz. The song he reflects upon came from a classic 1939 Hollywood production of the story, which introduced
millions of people not only to the land of Oz, but to a talented young lady
named Judy Garland as well. – Henry
Littlefield’s introduction to his 1964 parable of “The Wizard of Oz.”

My great friend and mentor, the late Henry M. Littlefield, a
renaissance man if there ever was in my time, was the author of a famous
parable on the “Wizard of Oz.” Information on the “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”
can be found at
.Or, one just has to Google his name and much can be learned about Henry. He
was a great coach who settled in Mount
Vernon in the late 1950’s after a tour in the US
Marines. Henry had graduated from Trinity Prep in New York
and was a Columbia University man, earning his BA, MA and PhD’s at the Morningside Heights campus. Besides his academic
achievements, Henry starred both at football and wrestling at Columbia,
and after a stint in the U.S. Marines where he earned his officer bars, he
wound up in my hometown Mount Vernon,
NY, where I met him in 1961.
Henry coached football and wrestling, but it was in the latter sport that he
became famous. In his six full seasons, the Mount Vernon “grapplers” became one of the
finest teams in the state and maybe the country. After his first season,
Henry’s teams were never defeated in Westchester
County, won the Section I title
(Westchester, Dutchess and Putnam
Counties) five straight
years and the State Titles in 1966 and 1967. When he left Mount Vernon there were no other worlds left
to conquer in scholastic wrestling. In a sense his departure from my old town
foreshadowed many changes that were to come.

I knew and loved that great man for 40 years until his
untimely death in 2000, at age 66. He left Mount Vernon
High School for Northampton,
Ma, and eventually Amherst
College in 1967 at the
same time I had graduated from college. He came to my wedding and my wife Linda
and I visited him and his wife and daughters in his home on Massasoit Street in Northampton Ma. He
taught history at Amherst,
was the Dean of Men, was their outstanding wrestling coach, and by the way, he
lived in Calvin Coolidge's old home! Being trained as a historian, Henry wrote
some great pieces on Cool Cal. In the meantime, as those days and weeks faded
into years, I raised a family, ran a business, and we both talked on the phone
and wrote often to each other constantly. In fact, I estimate about 5000
letters were exchanged between us from September 1963, when I left for college
and the spring of 2000, when he left us. I never really saw Henry much over
those 33 long years. I could count on less than both hands our encounters. But
he was never far from my mind and pen.

Henry went out to Monterrey, California after nine years at Amherst. He was such a legendary figure in
the Amherst
wrestling room, that when he left, the team refused to have another coach.
Henry settled eventually in Pacific Grove, ran the York School as Headmaster,
taught and lectured at the Stevenson School on the Monterrey Peninsular and
created a whole new world for himself. He acted, he preached Church sermons; he
wrote poetry, and was a counselor to many. When Henry died of colon cancer, I
traveled out there with a protégé of Henry's, a wonderful former wrestler and
coach named Randy Forrest. Even though we flew to San
Francisco together, and drove down and back to Monterrey, it was a lonely journey. Neither
of us, both married with grown children and at ages 55 and 61, had ever been to
It was a brave sad new world for both of us. Randy a giant of a black man from
neighboring New Rochelle, was a legendary figure
to a nicely well off Jewish kid from Mount
Vernon. Though almost neighbors, we came from two
different worlds when we met in 1960. We wound up being two different and
distinct types of worshippers at the feet of this great and wonderful man. Even
though he was only eleven years older than I, and five years older than Randy,
he was our leader and mentor. As we traveled, we talked all the way to Monterrey and back. Once
there, we were part of an incredible throng of 1000 or more people that came to
his memorial service. Of those people, few even knew he had wrestled, or had
been one of the great coaches in America. If he had lived in the
East for that extra 24 years, maybe 10,000 would have come out! Unfortunately
it closed a marvelous chapter of my life. It was a tearful farewell to his
wonderful wife Madeline and their now grown children. I even could vividly
recall when their second child Mary was born in my sophomore year in high
school. Now both little girls were grown women. So Randy and I traveled back
after three long days together. We had not talked much in the last number of
years, but now we were totally immersed with each other. Can you imagine two
men married about 70 years combined, traveling without our wives for the first
time, and re-hashing wrestling bouts and events which were from 35 years
earlier? Strange! That was the last time I saw Randy. He moved to Virginia to be near his wife's family and left New York, Westchester
County and New Rochelle behind after 60 years. It was
fitting. I met him because of Henry, and over the intervening 40 years we
always talked about Henry, and now that Henry was gone, maybe our time was gone

I remember so well Henry's constant interest in the
“Wizard of Oz.” He loved that story, and he loved mysticism. He was a
fan of Edgar Casey, read all of his books and loved science fiction. He always
talked about Baum and what he was trying to say. Henry always was searching for
the real meaning of life. He was always wondering about those elusive answers.
There was no one like him, and all who knew him will miss him forever. In 1964,
when I was in college, he wrote his now famous parable about Lyman Frank Baum’s
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” which was first published in 1900.

Frank Baum, while living in Chicago, was a supporter of William Jennings
Bryan and his candidacy and views inspired a great deal of Baum’s thinking and
philosophy.  From his book, Henry Littlefield
tells how a “fearsome cyclone that lifts Dorothy and Toto in their house and
deposits them ‘very gently- for a cyclone- in the midst of a country of
marvelous beauty.’ We immediately sense the contrast between Oz and Kansas.” Of course here
is where the problems begin and trouble ensues. The house landed directly on
the Wicked Witch of the East, and by the consequence of nature, “the cyclone
indirectly disposed of one of the two truly bad influences in the Land of Oz.” Author
Littlefield sees in Baum’s story the two evils of his time in the East and the
West, and one of those evils was now removed. Now in our time, we see the same
evil that emanated from Wall Street being re-visited, and like the Dorothy’s
house that crashed because of that cyclone, housing in America has now
crashed. “The Tin Woodman who Dorothy meets on her way to the Emerald City
in Littlefield’s eyes), had been put under a spell by the Witch of the East.
Once an independent and hard working human being, the Woodman found that each
time he swung his axe it chopped off a different part of his body.” In Oz the
tinsmiths could repair almost anything and soon the Woodman was all tin. “In
this way, Eastern witchcraft dehumanized a simple laborer so that the faster
and better he worked the more quickly he became a machine. Here is the populist
view of the evil influences on honest labor.” 
Of course today we look at American workers as the “most productive” in
the world. But where have their jobs gone? They have gone to the “Far East!” They have mostly disappeared. We are no longer
the manufacturing colossus of the world, but a country dominated by consumers
of “cheap” foreign goods.

Unfortunately, the problem with tin was, when it rains rust
sets in. Therefore, by the consequence of nature, the rusted Tin Woodman had
been locked in place for a year without moving until Dorothy happened along the
Yellow Brick Road,
discovered him, found an old oil can, and lubricated his joints. As author
Littlefield stated, the “Woodman’s situation has an obvious parallel in the
condition of many Eastern workers after the Depression of 1893.”  In his frozen state, he loses all emotion. He
does not hate or love, and therefore he feels he needs a heart to make him
sensitive again. So he goes with Dorothy to see if the Wizard can provide him
with a heart. In our time we are today witness to another Wizard, who promised
to be a “compassionate conservative.” This Wizard in today’s Emerald City
promised to watch over his people with prudence and with compassion for all. In
the Land of Oz, its capital, the marvelous Emerald City
was surrounded by deserts and was an oasis to all who came. The country also
had wonderful good witches who, though less powerful from the ones from the
East and the West, ruled benevolently in the North and the South. Of course in
the center of this land is Emerald City, and in the time of Dorothy it is
“ruled by the Wizard of Oz, a successful humbug whom even the witches
mistakenly feel is more powerful than all the rest of us together.” The Witch
of the North placed “the mark of goodness” on Dorothy’s forehead as protection
for her during her travels. “Goodness and innocence prevail even over the
powers of evil and delusion in Oz.” 
Classically author Littlefield thought that this was a basic tenant of
American wholesomeness, so Midwestern in its simplicity.

Ironically the Midwest is now the part of America which sees this “innocence and
simplicity” through the eyes of our new Dorothy, the Alaskan governor Sarah
Palin, who is making her own roundabout journey to the Emerald City!
And what of the heartless libertarianism, or social Darwinism within the soul
and consciousness of “Joe the Plumber,” who like the Tin Woodsman, wants to be
free of the shackles that bind him. “Joe” wants to do away with Social Security
so he can invest his own money in his own way. But in truth, our modern day Tin
Woodman, one “Joe the Plumber” is not exactly what he pretends to be! Has that
reality affected our modern day Dorothy on her journey along the Yellow Brick Road?
Is “Joe the Plumber” now a Republican Midwestern metaphor for all American
working guys who want to experience the American Dream? Or is “Joe” just a
temporary tool of the moment to be discarded in a few weeks, and to be always
remembered as an arcane piece of “trivia” found along the long and winding road
of “Election 2008?”

Baum’s Dorothy sets off to the Emerald City
with the Witch of the East’s magic Silver Shoes, no doubt, according to author
Littlefield, like the silver from Wall Street. (In the movie it was the “ruby
red” slippers, they photographed better in Technicolor!) In the same way that
William Jennings Bryan talked about silver, Glinda, the Witch of the South
said, “All you have to do is knock your heels together three times and command
the shoes to carry you wherever you wish to go.” (p.257)  This simplistic answer is not much different
then what we are fed today, money solves all problems, just leave it to the
experts! And of course our current Wizard has all sorts of money, and his
designated heir has seven homes and thirteen cars.

Eventually along the dangerous Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy meets the Scarecrow.
The Scarecrow lacks self-confidence, has an inferiority complex, and believes
that his salvation will come through the acquisition of a brain. Author
Littlefield wrote about William Allen White’s 1896 article, “What’s the Matter
with Kansas?”
“In it he (Allen) accused the Kansas
farmers of ignorance, irrationality and general muddle-headedness. “What’s
wrong with Kansas
are the people,” said William Allen White. But Baum sees the people differently
and the “Scarecrow soon emerges as innately a very shrew and very capable
individual.” But in truth, it maybe “the people” that White was talking about.

 William Allen White (February 10, 1868 –
January 31, 1944) was a renowned American
, politician, and author. Between World War I
and World War II
White became the iconic Middle American spokesman
for thousands throughout the United
States. White purchased his hometown
newspaper, the Emporia Gazette for $3,000 in 1895. He
rocketed to national fame and influence in the Republican Party with an
August 16, 1896, editorial entitled “What's the Matter With Kansas?
White developed a friendship with President Theodore Roosevelt in the 1890s until Roosevelt's death in 1919. White was to say later, “Roosevelt bit me and I went mad.” The two would be
instrumental in forming the Progressive (Bull-Moose) Party
in 1912 in opposition to the forces surrounding incumbent Republican president William Howard Taft, White supported much of
the New Deal.
As the Sage of Emporia he spent the
last quarter century of his life as an unofficial national spokesman for Middle America. This led
President Franklin Roosevelt to ask White to help generate public support for
the Allies before America's entrance into World War II.
White was fundamental in the formation of the Committee
to Defend America
by Aiding the Allies
, sometimes known as the White Committee. White spent much of his
last three years involved with this committee.

Is the Scarecrow really symbolic of today’s
Kansas, where the State Board of Education recently mandated that “creationism”
be taught on an equal footing with “Darwinism?.”

From the NY Times, November 8, 2005 -TOPEKA,
Kan., Nov. 8 – The fiercely split Kansas Board of Education
voted 6 to 4 on Tuesday to adopt new science standards that are the most
far-reaching in the nation in challenging Darwin's theory of evolution in the
classroom. The standards move beyond the broad
mandate for critical analysis of evolution that four other states have
established in recent years, by recommending that schools teach specific points
that doubters of evolution use to undermine its primacy in science education.
Among the most controversial changes was a redefinition of science itself, so
that it would not be explicitly limited to natural explanations. The vote was a
watershed victory for the emerging movement of intelligent design, which posits
that nature alone cannot explain life's complexity. John G. West of the
Discovery Institute, a conservative research organization that promotes
intelligent design, said Kansas
now had “the best science standards in the nation.” A leading
defender of evolution, Eugenie C. Scott of the National Center
for Science Education, said she feared that the standards would become a
“playbook for creationism.”

Have we not been experiencing the emergence
of a new brand of “flat earth” thinking from the “Bible Belt” and from the
mouths of the evangelicals? How many of those fine Midwestern folk believe in space
visitor landings and UFO sightings in and around the American Southwest? How
many of these fine folk believe that we never landed on the moon, but it was
all choreographed in Hollywood,
where today’s Wicked Witch of the West resides? How many of these fine folks
believe that the world is 6000 years old and that the flood wasn’t long after
that weeklong period of creation. Of course the same William Jennings Bryan
survived just long enough to serve as one of the prosecutors in the famous
Scope’s Monkey trial in 1925. Baum’s hero finished his career forever mocked in
the film “Inherit the Wind.”

The “Scopes Trial
(Scopes v. State, 152 Tenn. 424, 278 S.W. 57 (Tenn. 1925), often called
the “Scopes Monkey Trial“)
was an American legal case
that tested the Butler Act, which made it unlawful, in any
state-funded educational establishment in Tennessee,
to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach
instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.
” The
case was a critical turning point in the United States' creation-evolution controversy.

John Scopes,
a high school teacher, was charged on May 5, 1925 with teaching evolution from
a chapter in a textbook which showed ideas developed from those set out in Charles Darwin's
book On the Origin of Species. The trial
pitted two of the preeminent legal minds of the time against one another.
Three-time presidential candidate, Congressman and former Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan headed up the
prosecution, while prominent trial attorney Clarence
spoke for the defense.

As Dorothy (Sarah Palin), the Tin
Woodman (Joe the Plumber), and The Scarecrow (maybe Mike Hucklebee- who could
be better than the former governor of Arkansas, who’s an ordained preacher!)
skip down the Yellow Brick Road they come in contact with the Cowardly Lion
(maybe Vice-President Dick Cheney, who rattles swords often but stayed out of
the draft and Vietnam along with many other of his “Chicken Hawk” compatriots!)

When Dick Cheney, who had flunked out of Yale and was arrested and
convicted twice for DUI, became eligible for the draft, he was a supporter
of the Vietnam War
but did not serve in the military. Instead, he applied for and received five
draft deferments. In 1989, The Washington Post writer, George C.
Wilson, interviewed Cheney as the next Secretary of Defense; when asked about his
deferments, Cheney reportedly said, “I had other priorities in the '60s
than military service.”[17] Cheney testified during his confirmation hearings
in 1989 that he received deferments to finish a college career that lasted six
years rather than four, owing to sub par academic performance and the need to
work to pay for his education. Initially, he was not called up because the Selective Service System was only taking
older men. When he became eligible for the draft, he applied for four
deferments in sequence. He applied for his fifth exemption on January 19, 1966,
when his wife was about 10 weeks pregnant. He was granted 3-A status, the
“hardship” exemption, which excluded men with children or dependent
parents. In January 1967, Cheney turned 26 and was no longer eligible for the

The Lion as the “King of Beasts” quickly
“learned that if he roared very loudly every living thing was frightened and
got out of my way.” Of course since he was, “born a coward, he sobs, and
‘whenever there is danger my heart begins to beat too fast.” That seems to fit
the current Vice-President who suffers from rapid heartbeat, heart disease, and
has had five heart attacks. He is rarely in the news these days except when he
is seen shuttling back and forth to Bethesda
Naval Hospital
for emergency treatment at our expense. Of course to Baum, The Lion was
represented by Bryan himself, who often roared. The Lion initially attacked the
Tin Woodman, knocking him to the road, but his claws slid off his metallic skin
and The Lion was worried about his claws being damaged. Here author Littlefield
points out that Baum felt that the Eastern workers were pressured into voting
for McKinley and his support of gold by their employers and therefore
abandoning the pacifist Bryan and his anti-imperialist views. Of course the
King of Beasts, The Lion, was not very cowardly and neither was Bryan or even
Cheney, who for sure doesn’t seem anti-imperialist or a pacifist. Dorothy
weathers the stormy confrontation with the Lion, and soothes him with her
charm, good looks, winks, and the might of her powerful and magical Silver

All together they march onto the Emerald City
as did “Coxey’s” Army of tramps and indigents march in to Washington ask President Grover Cleveland
for work in 1894. Also, wasn’t it a “Bonus Army” that surged upon Washington,
in Herbert Hoover’s waning days, and demanding a promised veteran’s “bonus” to
be paid immediately?”

Coxey's Army was a protest march by unemployed
workers from the United States, led by the populist
Jacob Coxey.
They marched on Washington D.C. in 1894, the second year of a
four-year economic depression that was the worst in United States
history to that time. Officially named the Commonweal in Christ, its
nickname came from its leader and was more enduring. It was the first
significant popular protest march on Washington
and the expression “Enough food to feed Coxey's Army” originates from
this march. For many years, the low value Pinochle meld of four Jacks was
called Coxey's Army. The purpose of the march was to protest the unemployment
caused by the Panic of 1893 and to lobby for the government
to create jobs which would involve building roads and other public works
improvements. The march originated with 100 men in Massillon,
on March 25, 1894. Various groups from around the country
gathered to join the march, and its number had grown to 500 with more on the
way from further west when it reached Washington
on April 30, 1894. Coxey and other leaders of the movement were arrested the
next day for walking on the grass of the United States Capitol, and the rest of the
men scattered.

L. Frank Baum was among the
throng witnessing that ill-fated march, Many writers, including Henry
Littlefield, have said, that his book, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, may have been
inspired by Coxey's Army. In the novel, Dorothy, (innocence personified), the
Scarecrow, (the American farmer), Tin Woodman (the industrial worker), and The
Cowardly Lion (political leader), march on the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald
City, the Capitol (or Washington DC) of Oz. They demand help,
guidance or inspiration from the Wizard, who is interpreted to be the
President. Dorothy's Silver Shoes are interpreted to symbolize the using of free silver
instead of the gold standard (the road of yellow brick) because it was the
shortage of gold that precipitated the Panic of 1893.

That faux army was dispersed
peaceably, but the later Bonus Army that arose out of the depths of the despair
that gripped the Nation during the Great Depression, had another experience:

The self-proclaimed and designated Bonus
Expeditionary Force
was a collection of about 40,000 participants, of
whom over one-third were World War I veterans, who protested in Washington, D.C.,
in and throughout the spring and summer of 1932. At The nucleus of The Bonus
Marchers or the Bonus Army were
world war veterans who sought an immediate cash payment of Service Certificates
granted them earlier by a law passed in 1924. Each Service Certificate, issued
to a qualified veteran soldier, bore a face value and accrued interest.
Unfortunately the certificates matured twenty years from the date of original
issuance, thus, they were un-redeemable for another thirteen years. Their
leader was one Walter Waters a former enlisted man, but they were encouraged by
the wildly popular retired Marine General, Smedley Butler.

At 4:45 p.m., commanded by Gen. Douglas
, the 12th Infantry Regiment, Fort Howard, Maryland, and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, supported with six
battle tanks commanded by Maj. George S.
, Fort Myer, Virginia, formed in Pennsylvania
Avenue while thousands of Civil Service employees left work to line the street
and watch the U.S. Army attack its own veterans. The Bonus Marchers, believing
the display was in their honour, cheered the troops until Maj. Patton charged
the cavalry against them — to which action the Civil Service employee
spectators yelled: “Shame! Shame!” against the charging cavalry.

After the cavalry charge, infantry, with fixed bayonets
and adamsite
gas, entered the Bonus Army camps, evicting veterans, families, and camp
followers. The veterans fled across the Anacostia River, to their largest camp;
President Hoover ordered the Army assault stopped, however, Gen.
MacArthur—feeling this free-speech exercise was a Communist
attempt at overthrowing the U.S. Government—ignored the President and
re-attacked. Hundreds of veterans were injured, several were killed — including
and Eric Carlson; a veteran's wife miscarried; and
many other veterans were hurt. The sight of armed U.S. Army soldiers attacking
poor American veterans of the recent Great War
later prompted formal veteran relief funds, and, eventually, establishment of
the Veterans Administration. As member of Gen.
MacArthur's staff, Maj. Dwight D. Eisenhower had strong reservations
about routing
the anti-Bonus Army.

As they enter the fabulous Emerald City they must all wear green glasses.
It seemed that without those colored lenses the city would seem white!
According to Baum, “The Wizard, a little bumbling old man, hiding behind a
façade of paper mache and noise, might be any president from Grant to McKinley.
Today he could be a combination of George W. Bush, an incredible incompetent,
unpopular and bumbling figure, and possibly his heir apparent John McCain, who
is certainly old, certainly living on a past reputation, and certainly
dependent on bombast. As they enter the throne room of the palace, to ask the
Wizard for their favors, they all see him in different form, shape, or
illusion. To Dorothy he appears as an enormous head, (“the apt image for a
naïve and innocent little citizen”- maybe someone from the tundra of Alaska!) the Scarecrow,
a fairy-like gossamer figure, (“a most appropriate form for an idealistic
Kansan farmer’) to the Tin Woodman, a horrible beast (“as would any exploited
Eastern laborer after the trouble of the 1890s,” or the Big Government that
frightens “Joe the Plumber” with taxes and payroll withholding for Social Security).
As to the Cowardly Lion, like Bryan
or our modern day Dick Cheney, he sees a “Ball of Fire, so fierce and glowing
he could scarcely bear to gaze upon it.”  Is this image yesterday’s “shock and awe,” the
flames of Baghdad
that blew back to fringe the Lion’s whiskers. Is it the flames of an unending
war that has singed the neo-cons who expected a quick victory?  Like The Cowardly Lion, who “tried to go
nearer (the flames), he singed his whiskers and he crept back trembling to a
spot nearer the door.” (p.134)

As to a condition regarding their
requests, the Wizard asked, “them all to kill the Wicked Witch of the West.”
The Yellow Brick Road
did not lead them to the Witch, but they “must follow the sun, as many pioneers
in the past.” To author Littlefield, Baum sees The Wicked Witch of the West as
nature, and she will use all the natural forces at her command to thwart their
effort. Is our current Wicked Witch, our own adversary Osama Bin Ladin who
maybe hiding in the dangerous and foreboding terrain of Afghanistan? Our
modern day Wizard assures us with hollow platitudes. Our current Wizard talks
about the inherent strength of our economy, our need to triumph in far off
lands, and the “axis of evil” that threatens our very existence. His anointed
heir is a bit confused. He is on one hand a self-described “maverick” not bought
or owned by any one group, and at odds with the current Wizard. He talks often
of his sacrifice, his experience, and his ability and judgment. But he
confounds the middle mass of our electorate with erratic and somewhat
irrational tactics. He looks to the dramatic when he cancels the first day of
his party’s convention because an impending hurricane threat. The current
Wizard failed miserably with his hurricane as an American city was inundated
and almost lost. McCain halts his campaign and rushes to Washington to influence his party’s caucus
over the exploding financial meltdown, and has yet to explain what he did
there, and what he stands for. Of course it is the current Wizard who had
presided over our current financial meltdown. And in the most erratic and
irrational act of the campaign he elevates his own “Dorothy” as his successor.
He takes this young and inexperienced so-called innocent, and tells his
loyalists and the rest of the country; trust me on this one. He then sends her
out to the frontier to slay the Wicked Witch of the West, which she attempts
with gleeful fervor.

Of course it wasn’t going to be
easy for Dorothy and her travel companions to find the Wicked Witch, but for
sure The Witch found them. She first sent a phalanx of forty wolves against
them, then forty mean-spirited crows and finally a vicious cloud of black bees.
Eventually, after thwarting these attacks the Wicked Witch directs the flying
monkeys to swoop down on their group and they capture Dorothy. It seems to
author Littlefield that the monkeys were really the plains Indians and they
confessed to Dorothy that they were “once a free people, living happily in the
great forest, flying from tree to tree, eating nuts and fruit, and doing what we
pleased without calling anybody master.” They weren’t born evil, but eventually
when they were dominated and controlled, they were forced to do the bidding of
others. Though they capture her, and they see she has the power of goodness and
innocence, they cannot take her back to Kansas.
“We belong to this country alone, and cannot leave it.” (p.213). Of course the
same could be said of the Native Americans. Where could they go? Are the new
hordes of Indians now the Evangelicals? Isn’t this their country? Are they not
the descendents of the pioneers? Aren’t they with their new young leader, Sarah
Palin, been here forever? Aren’t they afraid of being dominated by the growing
numbers of foreigners, immigrants, the undocumented and non-whites? Is this not
a demographic war? This election seems to answer that question with a
resounding yes!

Dorothy is brought to the Wicked
Witch of the West, today seen as Hollywood,
the entertainment business, the media, and the coastal elites. The Witch seeing
the mark on her forehead and the Silver Shoes begins to “tremble with fear, for
she knew what a powerful charm belonged to them.” (p.150) She realized the
power of the Silver Shoes, and author Littlefield says that “Baum again uses
the Silver allegory to state the blunt homily that while goodness affords a
people ultimate protection against evil, ignorance of their capabilities allows
evil to impose itself upon them.” The Witch, not unlike “Mark Hanna or Banker
Boss,” or today’s image shapers in Hollywood or Madison Avenue, with their
message of material and celebrity can manipulate, and therefore control people
through their weakness of  “innate
innocence.”  Dorothy is now under the
power of the Witch, and is enslaved. She works without resistance, and with the
thought that hard work will eventually keep her safe, she is thankful that the
Witch has decided to spare her. Of course the Witch needs her and does not have
the power to kill her. Author Littlefield understood that “many Western farmers
have held these same thoughts in less mystical terms.” Again, if the Wicked
Witch of the West is this powerful force of nature, then another equally
powerful force must contravene to eliminate her. As we all know, “Dorothy
destroys the evil Wicked Witch by angrily dousing her with a bucket of water.”
Water, of course, is that contravening force of nature which the
drought-plagued farmers always needed. In the Baum story water liquidates the
Witch. To Henry Littlefield, “plain water brings an end to (the) malign nature
in the West.” In today’s metaphor, our modern day Dorothy rails at Hollywood,
the media elite, the money-hungry of Wall Street, the sophisticates of the
coastal regions, by speaking plainly and addressing the answers to the
questions she wants to be asked. She won’t be enslaved by “trick’ questions
formulated to make her seem foolish in the eyes of her idolaters. So with a
simple truth, she washes away, with the cool clearness of pure water the lies
of the powerful that have their own agenda to pervert America with
class warfare, re-distribution of income (communism), abortion, free love,
birth and population control. Our new Dorothy becomes the modern day Huey Long,
Father Coughlin and Joe McCarthy, railing against the excesses of the left, the
social engineers, the tax and spend liberals and the university “eggheads and

With surprising success in hand,
Dorothy and her friends make there way back to the capital of Oz, the Emerald City. It is at this time that they
realize that the Wizard is a little nobody, who has made a career of fooling
everyone with his myriad of tricks and his “smoke and mirror” show. The Wizard
answers their bewilderment with him and says meekly, “I have been always making
believe.” He is a fraud, he is really powerless, he been pulling the proverbial
wool over everyone’s eyes, and now his popularity rating has caught up to him.
He has assuredly outlived his usefulness. He is now the most unpopular leader
Oz has ever known, and a change is in the wind. He has packed his bags,
inflated his balloon, and is off to parts unknown before the Munchkins really
get wise. Maybe even an election by the people is in the offing!

“The Wizard’s deception was of
long standing in Oz and even the Witches were taken in,” writes author
Littlefield. According to Baum’s text, “It was a great mistake my ever letting
you into the Throne Rooms.” Of course even visitors to the Oval office of our
current Wizard are always consummated by awe and respect for the office, but
that soon can wear off with enough visits and with the knowledge that our
current “Emperor has no clothes!” Baum then complains, “Usually I will not see
even my subjects, and so they believe that I am something terrible.” (p.184)
History would repeat itself in the wake of the atomic bombings of Japan as their
emperor became human! No citizen could look upon their God-Emperor. Even his
voice was never heard by even his court no less his subjects. But times do
change, and serious consequences for the nation state call for different

In the days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Emperor Hirohito,
the Magnanimous-Exalted, the Sublime Majesty, the Imperial Son of Heaven of Dai
Nippon (Great Japan), in whose reign the Japanese nation was fated to attempt
to carry out the Emperor Jimmu's command., spoke to his advisers at the start
of hostilities on September 4, 1941.
At this point, the emperor astonished all present
by addressing the conference personally, and in breaking the tradition of
Imperial silence left his advisers “struck with awe.” Recovering from
their shock, the ministers hastened to express their profound wish to explore
all possible peaceful avenues. The Emperor's presentation was in line with his
practical role as leader of the Shinto religion. But of course the “shock and awe” abated and
the plans for war continued. Their God was rejected!

After more than three years of disastrous war, and before the smoke and the
fires of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had drifted from the dead
and dying  high into the atmosphere above Japan, the God-Emperor of Japan,
Hirohito, the 124th scion of a dynasty started in
660 B.C.E., finally spoke to the people.

His surrender speech noted that “the war situation has developed not
necessarily to Japan's
advantage” and ordered the Japanese to “endure the unendurable”
in surrender. It was the first time the public had heard the Emperor's voice.
He was purposely vague, because the Emperor of Japan was not regarded merely as
a human saying “We surrender to the Allies,” but rather, was viewed
as the sacred symbol, embodiment, and leader of Japan, and as such this required a
vague tone that preserved this mystique. Indeed, the formal, stilted Japanese
used by the Emperor in the speech was not readily understood by many common
Japanese. According to historian Richard Storry in A History of Modern Japan,
the Emperor typically used “a form of language familiar only to the
well-educated” and to the more traditional samurai

The Wizard was formerly a mimic,
a ventriloquist and a circus balloonist. The people of those days, as it seemed
to author Littlefield, were quite vulnerable to those sorts of skills when it
came to political charade, in the same way that a floating balloon would
attract a circus crowd. The Wizard’s skills of “smoke and mirrors” and his
employment of self-delusion could satiate easily the needs of the Tin Woodman,
the Scarecrow and The Lion.  But how was
he going to get Dorothy back to Kansas?
In Baum’s world of the late 19th Century there were many myths
regarding the “delusions, myths and foibles” of the populist movement. But in
reality, as author Littlefield writes, “The fearsome Wizard turns out to be nothing
more than a common man, capable of shrewd but mundane answers to these
self-induced needs. Like any good politician he gives the people what they
want. Throughout the story Baum poses a central thought; the American desire
for symbols of fulfillment is illusionary. Real needs lie elsewhere.” In the
same way, the Emperor of Japan could no longer stand by as this mythical
God-like figure and watched his nation being vaporized. He came down from his
exalted and aloof perch and shocked his nation with two truths, the reality of
his manhood and the desperation of their status.

So of course, Dorothy is never
brought back to Kansas
by the Wizard, but by the power of her Silver Shoes. She flies from Oz to her
home, and during the flight the shoes drop from her feet and are forever lost
in the desert below. The Wizard’s promise of a new leadership comes true. The
now suddenly wise Scarecrow succeeds the Wizard and rules over the Emerald City. The Tin Woodman now rules the West
and the Lion protects the smaller beasts in the forest. According to Henry
Littlefield, “the farm interests achieve national importance, industrialism
moves West and the Lion, represented by Bryan
commands a forest full of lesser politicians.

What have we all learned here
from “The Wonderful World of Oz,” the immortal fairy tale from L. Frank Baum,
or the allegory from the pen of Henry Littlefield? He saw Baum using symbolism
with all his characters. He saw Baum telling a story somewhat in the way that
Mark Twain did with Huckleberry Finn. Unlike Tom Sawyer and his clever ways of
avoiding work, like painting the fence, Finn tells a serious story of his time.
In the same way Baum, through Henry Littlefield’s bold analysis we see a lesson
for all of time. That lesson can be easily applied for today’s world. We always
value and applaud innocence, but we also understand its dangers. As to the
other characters who have traveled upon that legendary Yellow Brick Road, many parallels can be
seen through our storied and convoluted history.
In the end, The Wizard of Oz says much about America and its long winding Yellow Brick Road.
Frank Baum of course had Dorothy say in closing, “And oh, Aunt Em! I'm so
glad to be at home again!”  Isn’t
that what we all say after a long journey!


PS: The page references were from Baum’s “The Wonderful
Wizard of Oz,” and Henry Littlefield’s remarks were from his allegory! Other
information was found on the Internet.











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