It is June 2018, and a panel discussion is set to begin. Some of our guests have time-traveled from the past and have just received a download of information into brain microchips about the history of the time they have missed in their great sleep. In fairness to all of the panelists, our contemporary guests have also received historical downloads to fill in the gaps in their knowledge base. On our panel, we have Toussaint Louverture, the most famous leader of the Haitian Revolution of 1791. We also welcome Lady Mary Wortley Montagu who traveled and wrote in the 1700s. We are pleased to announce we have uncovered the writers of the Treatise of the Three Imposters from 1719, but we are still not revealing their names at this juncture. They will answer as a group from behind a darkened screen. Last, but certainly not least, from the time of the French Revolution, we have the women of the Third Estate who petitioned the King on behalf of all women in 1789. On the panel of contemporary leaders, we have Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. All of the panelists have had a few weeks to get over the shock of the historical record, and are now ready to discuss what they consider to be their “ideal society.” Welcome everyone.
Donald Trump: I’d just like to say for the record that I think this is totally unfair, and sad, very sad. I know the fake media is going to twist everything I say. You can’t trust them. They got me indicted and fired. It was a witch hunt. A very huge one. Huge. It was so huge you have no idea. Not fair.
Moderator: Duly noted Mr. Trump. Please take your seat. That is not the matter at hand. Let’s begin.
Donald Trump: Not fair.
~ Trump sits with the rest of the panelists, and we begin.
Moderator: First, let’s welcome all of our guests from the past. What a journey you have made. Congratulations! Technology is a marvelous thing. Let’s give them a round of applause for their amazing time traveling.
~ Audience applauds with fervor.
Moderator: And now, Mr. Toussaint Louverture, please tell us a little bit about yourself and what your ideal society would consist of, please.
Toussaint Louverture: Merci. This is an amazing time I must say. I am only saddened to hear that my home of Saint-Domingue, oh, pardon me, Haiti it is now called, has not fared very well. My brothers did win our freedom with the Haitian Revolution as you call it, but I have seen the conditions of poverty there now. As you all know, I was born a slave, but became a man of freedom on the island of Saint-Domingue. It was my fate, and God’s wishes that I die among my captors in France in 1803 (Wikipedia.org 2017). And, it is God’s good fortune that has brought me here today. My ideal society has been both realized and not realized in this time since my death. Those of us who share African ancestry are no longer slaves to the whites. Some would say this is miracle enough, but I have learned of this bitter racism and socioeconomic inequality which infects people today. When I lived, we believed that no longer being slaves would be enough—that we would henceforth be seen as equals among men. It is a great pleasure to sit here with Mr. Barack Obama, who might have been a slave in my day, but became the first African to become President of this high country. He is a testament to how much the world has changed. Unfortunately, his successor is a testament to how much things have not changed.
Trump: Not Fair. Lies. All lies.
Moderator: Mr. Trump, please hold your comments.
Toussaint Louverture: I do not lie, but am used to the ways of the men who would have us subjugated. When I lived, we had to fight them for our very lives and our freedom. Here it is something so similar I cannot even believe it. I have heard of the lives of Black men and women, and the Black Lives Matter movement. How, after all of this time is it still that we need to fight merely for our Black lives? This is the unchanging face of this racism as you call it. A racism that elected a man who ran on a ticket which dismissed and ridiculed people of color, women, the disabled, and others. But, he will fade into the racist history I am sure. My ideal society is becoming. The world will turn against this infection of racism eventually. When I learned of the ways of change that have happened throughout the world—ways in which equality has triumphed—I cried for the men who would have given anything to learn that the future was so bright.
Hillary Clinton: Yes, men and women Mr. Louverture.
Toussaint Louverture: My pardons, madam. Men and women. I am just learning about the strides of women. It is remarkable. We never even considered that women would be where they are today, but it makes sense to me now. In my ideal society, both men and women of all races as they are called, would be equal and live with freedom, peace, and prosperity.
Trump: I have the best black friends Toussaint, truly. I’m the biggest supporter of them. Women too. Women love me, because I love them. You know, I run the best beauty contest to showcase the most beautiful women you have ever seen. You would love it! Everyone loves it.
Toussaint Louverture: Umm…?
Moderator: Mr. Trump, thank you, please wait.
Trump: Not fair. Totally unfair. Hillary said something, and now you are telling me to be quiet?!? Soooooo unfair. Typical. Let’s just be fair. That’s all I’m saying. Because in my “ideal society” it would all be fair. I’m about fairness. I’m a hugely, bigly fair guy. You can ask anyone. I’ve never been unfair to anyone. I don’t tolerate that—that unfair stuff.
Moderator: Let’s move on to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what your “ideal society” would be like Lady Montagu?
Lady Montagu: Thank you. I am Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. I am from London and was a part of the highest society there. My husband was Edward Montagu, and was an ambassador to the Turkish court for a time. My husband and I traveled with our children to the Turkish court, and saw some amazing sights along our route, which I wrote about in letters to friends (Jacob 2001, 138). Unlike Mr. Louverture, I do not understand this “Black Lives Matter” nonsense. Quite frankly, it is beneath me to even comment on it, but I will if I must. You see, I know the quite a lot about the world, and have seen the most delightful things in my travels—glorious gardens (Lady Montagu 1716, 139), plays with gilded vessels (Montagu 1716, 141), and even a “field being yet strewed with the skulls and carcases of unburied men, horses, and camels…[from the battle at Carlowitz] where the last great victory was obtained by Prince Eugene over the Turks” (Montagu 1717, 146). I have seen all the great leaders, I assure you, and none of them are “black” as you call them. I know that “the dark people of North Africa” and the rest of that dark continent could never be admired (Jacob 2001, 138). It is sad, but true. They just have not developed like the rest of us in civilized society. I understand if they are not slaves anymore, but Africans will never be like the English. Obviously, the Americas have devolved if they have elected an African to their highest office. The Americans were never very trustworthy anyway. As for my ideal society, I believe I have experienced some of it in my life. The glorious wealth and superiority of the English life is definitely ideal. Now I’ve learned of all of the great technological achievements that have been made, and I would love to travel the world by this airplane you have. It sounds so adventurous. I’ve heard now of women gaining the vote and what you call equality. Well, we must realize that some women are more equal than others if we are honest. Some women, well, it would be to their detriment to have voting powers. But yes, women like myself should definitely have power in society, because we are educated and enlightened enough to provide solid guidance in world affairs.
Moderator: Mrs. Clinton would you like to respond?
Hillary Clinton: Yes, thank you. Lady Montagu, I understand that you are a product of your time. A lot has changed, and the United States is the most powerful country in the world now. We have of course realized that equality is a fundamental part of an ideal society. As a white woman with privilege, I’ve had to really study to understand the Black Lives movement. After Mr. Trump won the electoral college in the last election, I took the time to really invest in learning about Black Lives Matter. I can honestly say, that during the election I did not understand what I understand now. As you are also a white woman of privilege with a fine education, I think it would behoove you to undertake learning about Black Lives Matter. You might begin by reading some of the books written by Barack. He is a fine example, an eloquent speaker and writer, and I’ve learned a lot from him. I might have been a bit dismissive of him when we were running against each other, but we are good friends now.
Barack Obama: Thank you Hillary.
Hillary Clinton: No problem Barack. I know now how big the fish are that we need to fry. Hahaha.
Barack Obama: Yes.
Trump: If that is an inside joke about me, that is unfair. Look at them. They can’t gang up on me like that. Moderator you need to say something. Don’t let them talk!
Moderator: We are here to talk Mr. Trump. Please sit down.
Trump: Unfair. So unfair. Sad.
Moderator: Now the authors of the Treatise of the Three Imposters will speak.
Authors of the TOTTI: Thank you. We will not reveal our histories. We would just like to say that our ideal society is a world in which everyone realizes the folly of their god delusions. As we’ve said before, “one should therefore not be astonished that the world is filled with vain & ridiculous opinions; nothing is better able to give them currency than ignorance” (Anonymous 1719, 95). Also, we should repeat that “if the people could understand into what an abyss ignorance throws them, they would soon shake off the yoke of unworthy leaders, for it is impossible to let reason act without its discovering the truth” (Anonymous 1719, 95). And yes, Mr. Trump, you are an unworthy leader in our opinion. We have no qualms about saying that after what we have seen and read.
Trump: No. Not fair. I won the election by a landslide. Everyone loves me, they truly do, except for the bad ones, like the bad hombres and the feminists. I don’t care. Feminists are all too ugly to get a man anyway. I’ve seen them. They are just ugly. Right Hillary?
Hillary Clinton: No Donald. We’ve had this discussion before.
Moderator: Please sit down Mr. Trump. Let’s hear from the women from the Third Estate in France.
Women of the Third Estate: Vive la révolution, Donald!
Trump: What? No! So unfair! Did you see that?
Moderator: Sit down Mr. Trump.
Women of the Third Estate: As we were saying, we have recently learned how women no longer have to grovel at the feet of a king. We will never grovel again. When we wrote in 1789 how we wished for “permission” to be heard, and when we said we did not write “in order to usurp men’s authority, but in order to be better esteemed by them, so that we might have the means of living safe from misfortune” we meant what we said to an extent (Women of the Third Estate 1789). We had to write that way. Now we don’t have to write that way. Women have achieved so much that we were also brought to tears when we learned of the brightness of the future. We have also been moved by the general impetus towards the equality of all people, and acknowledge that any ideal society will include complete equality for all people. We have much to learn about the lives of Black people. We admit we never considered it before, but we will make it a priority and invite Lady Montagu to do the same. As most of us have grown up as worshippers, we have never considered a world without a God and the worship of God, but we also never thought about time travel, yet here we are. We agree to hear out the authors of the Treatise of the Three Imposters. We might not agree with them, but we will see. It is amazing to us that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are leaders in this world. We are sad Mrs. Clinton was not elected. We all agree that Trump is a buffoon.
Trump: What?!?! You are all just ugly feminists that no one would ever touch! Look at them. Am I right people?
~ Audience is silent.
Hillary Clinton: Oh what a tangled web we weave…
Barack Obama: What is that about the chickens coming home to roost again?
Moderator: And with that, we will end this discussion for now, so that we can give each panelist a break. Thank you all for coming today. We will continue this discussion tomorrow. Let’s have a round of applause.
~ Audience applauds.
~ End of scene one.
Anonymous. 1719. Selections from Treatise of the Three Imposters in The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents by Margaret Jacob 2001. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Jacob, Margaret C. 2001. The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley 1716-17. Correspondence in The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents by Margaret Jacob 2001. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Wikipedia. 2017. “Toussaint Louverture.” Accessed June 15. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toussaint_Louverture.
Women of the Third Estate. 1789. “Petition of Women of the Third Estate to the King” in The French Revolution and Human Rights: A Brief Document History by Lynn Hunt 1996. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.