National Review Online: The Manchurian Candidate III

National Review Online

The Manchurian Candidate III


Paradise on earth.  But our hero, young fifth-grader RAYMOND SHAW, is not happy.  Half-Kansan and half-Kenyan, he’s spent much of his childhood in Muslim Indonesia, where he’s learned to recite the Koran in Arabic.  Although Hawaii is multi-racial (Japanese, Chinese, Hawaii, Filipino, Samoan, and white, both native-born and military), the black/white structural paradigm so beloved of the New York Times does not obtain there, since there are precious few African Americans in the islands.  

Heroically, Raymond does what he can to impose an artificial, Bull Connor narrative on his life, but with white people — politely called haoles in pidgin English and effin-haoles in common parlance — making up less than a third of the population, it’s tough to pretend he lives in the Deep South.  Alone and nearly friendless, he consoles himself by shooting hoops and writing bad poetry and, later experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

Destiny takes a hand when his typical white grandfather, a disaffected midwesterner who has drifted from Kansas to radical Mercer Island, Washington, to lefty Honolulu, introduces Raymond to FRANK, a “progressive” who advocates the destruction of capitalism and its replacement by socialism.  Frank had once been a columnist for the Chicago Star, a “labor-community organizer” newspaper in the city that had given birth to the Communist Party USA 1919.  

Raymond thrills to Paul Robeson recordings and the older man’s denunciation of the “racist white power structure,” while raptly listening to tales of a magical and wondrous placed called “Chicago.”  Chicago is not only the city of Al Capone, Moses Annenberg, and Dion O’Bannion, it’s also the center of Black Capitalism, the successor to Harlem as the mecca for blacks.  It’s home, too, to the “Nation of Islam,” whose close-cropped adherents wear simple dark suits and narrow ties — a costume Raymond himself will later adopt.

One night, Frank looks at Raymond and says: You are the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life, and hails the boy as “the Expected One.” Raymond vows that, someday, he too will go to Chicago and become a community organizer… and perhaps even more.  Frank gives the boy a copy of Dune. 


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