Ahead of the Parade
by Sherman H. Skolnick
Sherman Skolnick is probably best-known as the founder of Citizens’ Committee to Clean Up the Courts, founded in 1963 to conjure up concepts of corruption and criminality that could be used as political leverage against judges and lawyers. While many of his targets would dispute his version of events then and now, it can’t be denied that more judges and lawyers have gone to jail because of his efforts than any journalist or politician who immediately comes to mind.
His take on politics is less reliable, as demonstrated in his book Ahead of the Parade. It’s technically his second book, but The Secret History of Airplane Sabotage (1973), which examined in excruciating detail the crash of United Airlines 553 at Chicago’s Midway Airport in December, 1972, never actually made it through the first printing–perhaps because he concluded that the crash occurred at the request of Richard Nixon, the master of dirty tricks, who wanted to silence the wife of Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt; she died alongside a US congressman and a CBS News reporter, and with a satchel packed with cash.
Skolnick’s writing style has real old-school punch, like a cross between William S. Burroughs and Walter Winchell. It would be fun to read on almost any subject, but that his chosen field is sabotage and dirty tricks is just delightful! His website is loaded with what is, at the very worst, the very best political satire available in English, and at best the finest conspiracy theory this side of Lyndon LaRouche. Until a better phrase comes along, it will have to be called that, though doing so begs the question of whether it is possible for conspiracy theory to ever be true. Having written more about Mr. Skolnick than any other living journalist, and being reasonably educated in many of the matters that come up in his work, I would say: Yes. Conspiracy theory permeates from game theory, and is a fundamental component of political science as an art form.
The shock would reverberate across the world if a fifth of Skolnick’s reports on national and international politics were ever proven true. A fun mind-game to play when reading Ahead of the Parade is to assume that, amidst all the questionable content, there is one line in it that is absolutely true–but which line?
A large portion of the book is devoted to the Illinois judicial scene–namely, the details of a lawsuit that sought to overturn copyright protection for Coca-Cola. He writes of judgeships and media anchor-spots being purchased, and of secret courts that do the elite’s bidding behind the scenes. Unless one has a passion for jurisprudence (or lack thereof), or like collecting dirt on one of the world’s most successful brand names, the reader will skip through much of this material for the meat–the dirty deeds of our nation’s elite. Bush, Clinton, Gore, the Pope, the Queen of England, the Rockefellers, Jesse Jackson, Marc Rich, Chandra Levy, even Simon Wiesenthal–very few escape his poison pen, and those who do are excoriated repeatedly on the website.
The visual is plenty amusing. An 80 year-old man speaking quite sincerely about how the Pope has killed people to keep up margins in the soybean trade. Or how Al Gore was nearly killed twice by air power in the week before JFK, Jr. died in similar fashion. It’s like a senile relative rewriting history. But there is a method to his madness, which centers on dissolving the reflexive belief that it is possible to exert real power in this nation while also holding true to professed morality. In that sense, Ahead of the Parade could be viewed as the sequel to the late William Cooper’s Behold a Pale Horse (1991), that classic of conspiracy theory that reads as more legit with each passing year.
If this book has any real flaw other than the questionability of its content, it is that the book could never come close to the sheer vicious joy of the website. A better idea would have been for Skolnick to anthologize his infamous “Overthrow of the American Republic” (OOTAR) series, now numbering 66 parts. But that would be too easy. There is something clearly quixotic about Skolnick’s quest to piss of the entire Western ruling structure, so to see a book under his name at all is pretty heartening for those Americans who truly value our (current) freedom of speech.