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Apocalypse September!

Walter Brasch: It's probably just a coincidence, but 1988 was also the same year that George Bush, whom Sadaam Hussein called The Great Satan, was elected president.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This column was written in 1994 when Harold Camping made his prediction for the apocalypse. He now says he's certain—absolutely, positively, 100% certain the rapture begins at 6 p.m., Saturday, May 21. But, what's telling is that America hasn't changed since 1994—the issues noted lightly in the column are still here. The facts change, the problems don't. So, enjoy this light-hearted look at history—and contemporary America.

The world will end in September [1994], at least if Harold Camping has his way. Camping, an engineer and former Bible School teacher, says his research has convinced him that in 1988, 13,000 years after what he believes is the earth's creation, Satan broke forth from the underground. It's probably just a coincidence, but 1988 was also the same year that George Bush, whom Sadaam Hussein called The Great Satan, was elected president.

Nevertheless, Camping claims the Christian church has been teaching false doctrine the past couple of thousand years, and that his calculations reveal the truth. Normally, it'd be easy to dismiss Camping's Day of Doom forecast, especially since all the other religions have the "absolute truth." But, Camping is a media-savvy apocalyptic kind of guy. He has written two books about it, and owns a network of 40 radio stations, all of them belching airwaves of impending doom to the thousands of Americans who believe in the media--and have donated at least $12 million during the past year to his stations.

Alas, with so much opposition, especially from religious leaders who are upset that Camping has better slide rules than they do, Camping needs all the support he can get. Fortunately, a little known tenet of the Coppola Theory of Apocalypse Now states that a wave of stupidity will wash over the people prior to the final holocaust. There have been many clues in the past few months alone. Here are just a few.

In Philadelphia, an orthodontist who admitted he fondled a couple of hundred girls and young women who trusted their teeth but not their bodies to him was convicted of a charge of molestation, and stripped of his license. Psychiatrists say Dr. Warren Graboyes (yes, that's {italic} really {end italic} his name) has a bad case of frotteurism--a fancy name for putting your hands somewhere other than in a patient's mouth. So, Dr. Graboyes has sued his insurance company, claiming that because of his illness, which he says is incurable, he is disabled. For that disability, he demands $5,000 a month.

If every time newspapers reported a stupid act by a government official, the carriers would need forklifts not bicycles to deliver their newspapers. But, now and then something just has to be reported. In Scott Twp., Columbia County, Pennsylvania, where residents pay one of the highest rates in the state for their new sewer system, the township supervisors are having trouble disposing of some problems--like not knowing where all its records are and for failure to pay its own taxes on time. To save money, the Supervisors asked for volunteers to help staff the telephones. A retired college professor and a retired CPA volunteered. But, the supervisors turned them down.They said the volunteers (and there's no way I could be making this up!) were "overqualified."

In Allentown, Pa., an official wrote a former employee, who had charged her employer with discrimination, that he was finally closing her file after more than four years because, "You died August 10, 1990." He did advise the woman that she still had a right to bring a private legal action, and that if she wished to do so, she must file a suit within 90 days of receiving the letter.

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For the first time in years, there are no members or former members of Congress in prison, a truly cataclysmic occurrence. If we can survive September, maybe we will see balance restored with the impending imprisonments of Reps. Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois and Pennsylvania's own Joseph Dade.

Haitian leaders are now using voodoo to put curses on American policy-makers. While we may think the Haitians may have a few pins short of a full cushion, does {italic} anyone {end italic} believe there has been much intelligence put into whatever it is we think our government's Haitian policy is?

His Royal Pontificate, Rush Limbaugh, claims there is no evidence that nicotine is addictive. This tells us one of two things. Either it was Satan who convinced thousands of scientists, including the entire U.S. Public Health Service, to fake the data in their gazillion tons of reports that prove nocotine {italic} is {end italic} addictive, or else Satan recently blew smoke past the Mouth That Roared.

Even Rush Limbaugh can cause others to act stupid. The National Education Association has asked its members to stop buying orange juice. The NEA is upset that the Florida Citrus Commission is using Limbaugh, an occasional teacher-basher, as its spokesman.

And speaking of Orange Juice . . . Did anyone else think it a sign of the impending apocalypse when thousands of people stood on freeway overpasses to cheer O.J. Simpson in his 60-mile slo-mo touchdown dash to his arrest? Does anyone doubt there is a wave of stupidity that affects the 15,000-20,000 people a week who take the time and energy to write letters of encouragement to O.J., while no one seems to be writing letters to the families of Nicole Simpson or Ron Goldman?

Finally, there's a better than average possibility the news media will miss the apocalypse since they would still be covering the O.J. case. While the networks devoted hours of prime time television to follow the chase, cleared time for every news magazine to do one-hour features and analyses about O.J. and his life, ran 5- and 10-minute O.J. news blocks in their evening news, and updates almost every hour, and while CNN aired all-day live coverage of the preliminary hearing, there were major floods in Georgia (which received all of 20 seconds on one night's network newscast), continued massacres in Rwanda and Bosnia, and at least a thousand other murders in the U.S.


Walter Brasch

Walter Brasch's latest book is BEFORE THE FIRST SNOW: STORIES FROM THE REVOLUTION, available in pre-order