By Hunter S. Thompson
Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist (1968-1976)

This country is so basically rotten that a cixious, bigoted pig like John Wayne is a great national hero. Thomas Jefforson would have been horridied by a monster like Wayne - and Wayne, given a shot across the time-span, would be proud to pistol-whip a "radical punk" like Jefferson.

John Wayne is a final, rotten symbol of everything that went wrong with the American Dream - he is our Frankenstein monster, a hero to millions. Wayne is the ultimate & perhaps final "American." He beats the mortal shit out of anything he can't understand. The brainwaves of "The Duke" are like those of the Hammerhead Shark - a beast so stupid and irrationally vicious that scientists have abandoned all hope of dealing with it, except as an unexplainable "throwback." The Hammerhead, they say is no different today than he was in One Million B.C. He is a ruthless, stupid beast with only one instinct - to attack, to hurt & cripple & kill.

There is no evidence in modern science that the Hammerhead Shark had any ancestors - and no descendants, either. But science is at least half-wrong on this count. Like many another species, the Hammerhead survived by moving to a new habitat. The most advanced of them came out of the sea and learned to walk on land. They learned to speak American - despite their tiny brains - and a few of them moved to Hollywood, where they found themselves much in demand as extras & even as heroes in hundreds of "cowboy" films.

The New Hammerhead was a perfect cowboy. He was vicious & stupid & ignorant of everything except his own fears and appetites. He beat the mortal shit out of anything that made him uneasy, for any reason at all. The Hammerhead was a perfect warrior. He defended the flag. Any flag. He learned to understand words like "orders" and "patriotism," but the secret of his success was an ancient taste for blood. He thrived on action. But he was brainless; he had to be aimed.

The Hammerhead was the one you hired when you wanted to kill Indians. He was also available to whip Niggers. And then to hang Wobblies. He was given a badge and a club, and by 1960 - or maybe even 1860 - the Hammerhead Ethic WAS the American Dream.

The press created a whole pantheon of Hammerhead Heroes: J. Edgar Hoover, John Dillinger, Audie Murphy, Joe McCarthy, Ira Hayes, Lyndon Johnson, Juan Corona . . . but the king-bitch stud of them all was "The Duke," John Wayne, a cowboy movie actor whose one real talent was an almost preternatural genius for brainless violence. The Duke wasn't satisfied with just killing people, he beat them into bloody, screaming hamburger.

Which made him Numer One at the box office - the ultimate Hammerhead, a total American Hero. Thomas Jefferson was a useless artifact at this point, and even Horatio Alger was little less than a convenient myth. By 1960 John Wayne was more American than Studebaker, he had the whole Dream in his fists.

And it was just about then that the Duke took his gig to Vietnam. Both the Negroes & the Indians had been beaten to jelly, the Beatniks were finished, the Hippies were on the ropes . . . and only the Gooks remained.

(historical pause)

The rest is history, as the say. The Duke ATE IT over there in The Nam. And he took all his relatives down with him: Westmoreland, McNamara, Bundy, Rostow, Rusk, Taylor, LBJ - a whole generation of King Hammerheads went down with the Duke in Vietnam . . . and by 1971 the only real question was whether or not Nixon, whom even the Hammerheads scorned, was stupid enough to link his name forever to some kind of horrible, nightmare echo of Dunkrirk . . . an army of wild junkies fleeing in terror along some broad and bloody highway that Texas contractors built with personal Income Tax money from Saigon to that beach on the South China Sea . . . and then wading, under fire, into the timeless surf toward a handful of broken lifeboats.

A Nation of Hammerheads going back to sea. A panic worse than anything lemmings ever dreamed of . . . an indescribable tragedy for those who will die there, with lungs full of blood and seawater - - - but not for the Main Hammerheads, they will toss another log on the fire down in Texas, and polish their gold plated memoirs.

The filthy truth is that 50 years from now our gandchildren will be herded, by law, into stylish jail/bunkers that will still, even then, be called schools . . . and they will be forced to buy millions of expensively bound "history books," which they will study under the watchful eyes of a new generation of enforcers who will still, even then, be called "teachers" . . . and they will learn from their texts and their teachers that men like Richard Nixon and Lyndon Baines Johnson were "American Statesmen." And other names, like Agnew and Humphrey - along with Rusk, Rostow, and Bundy - will fade away into footnotes.

That is the horror of it: That in 1995 the standard/text high school history books will not say that America in the 1960s was ruled and effectively gutted by a gang of cheap thugs who also happened, for reasons of political necessity, to be Mass Murderers. The history books will not say that Lyndon Johnson was more vicious than Mussolini and more stupid than Hitler. They will not say that Robert McNamara's hands were so bloody that after five years he forgot what blood smelled like . . . and that the ranking Generals with "honoroed West Point names" like Taylor & Westmoreland & Abrams were still screaming, all the way to the end, for more blood and bombing and fire . . . and that even in 1971, with the awful truth so obvious that even Senators could see it, the ranking fixers who still ruled the U.S. Congress were threatening editors of The New York Times with "prosecution for Treason" because they finally published documented proof of what a whole generation of young Americans had been screaming in the streets for five years - while fifty thousand others died senselessly to protect a dozen or so wealthy dope-dealers who were also Generals and occaisionally Presidents of the cancerously corrupt little finger of Asia called "South Vietnam."

These dirty truths will not appear in the history texts of 1995. The hired fixers will take over just as soon as this undeclared war is unoficially finished - just as soon as the last shark is called off and brought home for an angry rest. And not one of these blood-hungry Hammerhead scumbags will ever be nailed to the final whipsaw judgement they all deserve.

Not because of what they did. But because they did it in the name of a Dream & a Human Possibility that was fragile from the start, but strong enough to survive almost every abuse and cruel failure that human beings were capable of . . .

. . . except the Hammerhead Ethic, and the beasts who rode it to power. These were the swine who found their model in a brutal freak like John Wayne.

If it won't salute, stomp it. Break it. Destroy the goddam queer dirty thing. Rip its lungs out . . .

Then nail that coonskin to the wall, like LBJ said. If there is any real justice in this world or the universe, God has already dug a special hole in Hell for LBJ and the Duke - a pit full of rancid blood & fang-leeches, which the bastards will never escape from.

But there is not much evidence in history of either God or Justice. The best we can hope for is Truth. Not often, and a pretty thing gruel even then. The Hammerheads get all the meat.

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