We Baby Boomers remember this story with great delight...and the younger set has seen it on those old Twilight Zone reruns...but it certainly spot-on as to what's happening in our nation today with all the propaganda flying around from everywhere:The Monsters Are Due on Maple Streets
by Marty Kaplan
The power has gone out in a typical American town. Wait -- it's not just the electricity. The phones don't work, either. Portable radios are dead. Cars won't start.
But then lawn mowers and cars and lights inexplicably start and stop on their own. What's going on? A meteor? Sunspots? Or are there, as Tommy's comic book suggests, aliens among us, preparing for a takeover? Suspicion poisons the air. Neighbor turns on neighbor. A scapegoat is blamed. A shot is fired. Panic, madness, riot.
And while the humans behave monstrously, the real monsters watch from a nearby hilltop, working a little gizmo that messes with the power on Maple Street, and marveling how easy it is to manipulate these earthlings into destroying themselves.
In what is arguably the best Twilight Zone episode ever, "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," Rod Serling wrote a suburban Lord of the Flies, a parable about the fragility of civilization, paranoia and the susceptibility of nice folks to manipulation.
Watching it when it first aired, in the depths of the nuclear arms race, people thought it was meant to ward off a witch-hunt for Reds under the bed. Today, watching what's been going on in Madison, Wisconsin, as well as in Washington, D.C., I can't help thinking that the real monsters are chortling at their success in pitting neighbor against neighbor, and I can't help marveling at their genius for distraction and unaccountability.
The monsters aren't Wisconsin's public employees whose right to collective bargaining has helped their families lead middle-class lives, and who have repeatedly declared their willingness to return to the table and negotiate a shared sacrifice. The monsters are on Wall Street, where state pension funds were sunk into toxic sub-prime mortgage-backed securities. The monsters are on K Street, where lobbyists are fighting financial industry oversight. The monsters are the politicians who are using Wisconsin's deficit as a pretext to demonize public employees and bust their unions.