“Yes, we have no bananas” was a hit song from the 1920s. Here a Greek fruit vendor answers all questions with “yes,” even when the answer is negative.
In today’s America, we have lots of bananas.
First, of course, are the curved yellow fruits sold in bunches. You may be living in Alaska or Massachusetts, with a foot of snow on the ground and the temps in the twenties, but after you’ve shoveled the snow from the driveway, you can drive to the grocery store and pick up some bananas imported from South or Central America.
We have another kind of bananas here in America too, homegrown and plentiful. In this case, the word “bananas” occurs as an adjective rather than a noun, as in “going bananas,” meaning wildly excited, going insane, or crazy. Heaven knows there are plentiful examples of men and women going bananas.
Some people, for example, deny the realities of biology and declare themselves to be of the opposite gender. Not only does Ted decide he is now Alice, but he also insists the rest of the world must acknowledge him as female, and he claims the right to compete against biological women in his university’s track events.
Bananas also defines many of those social justice warriors who have torn down statues, burned cities, and are now going after American literary classics like Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird. Some of the more rabid members of the cancel culture mob are also bananas—or to add a couple of more foodstuffs, nuts and crackers—as they harass some poor soul who had the misfortune to Tweet a politically incorrect comment as a teenager.
Bananas describes our politicians who keep racking up so much debt that Americans will never be able to pay the bill. Members of Congress who blather on about helping the American people while often working to do the complete opposite are also bananas.
Ideology makes a lot of us crazy. We politicize everything from driving our cars (climate change), to our skin color (check your privilege), to the curriculum in our public schools (America is evil). Even the rollout of the new coronavirus vaccine became a political football, with politicians and others arguing race should be a factor in deciding who should receive priority access to the vaccine.
Then there are banana republics—and I don’t mean the clothing chain. A banana republic originally referred to countries in the southern hemisphere that depended on exporting one product, like bananas, for much of their GDP, and whose governments were often volatile and dictatorial. Presidents of these places came and went like dust in the wind, with elections often being rigged. Attaching the phrase “democratic republic” to a country’s name made an even greater mockery of reality.
Now this variety of bananas has entered the United States as well. Nearly 40 percent of likely voters believe mail-in voting “led to unprecedented voter fraud in this election,” while almost 50 percent “say it’s likely that Democrats stole voters or destroyed pro-Trump ballots” in order to help their candidate, according to a recent Rasmussen survey. Given the amount of ink already spilled on this situation, I won’t recreate the laundry list of wrongdoing and lies that have shaken the foundations of our republic.
Those who could battle most effectively against America becoming a banana republic—our federal and state legislators, our judges, and certain federal law enforcement agencies—have fallen strangely silent, either complicit in the deceit or too gutless and intimidated to protest the steal.
In Woody Allen’s movie Bananas, a Castro look-alike in the fictional banana republic of San Marcos becomes dictator. When he first speaks to the people, his newly acquired power has driven him mad. Among other regulations, he declares Swedish to be the new language of the country and requires citizens to change their underwear every half hour.
If you want a laugh, you should watch this short scene. What’s less humorous is that we Americans may well see more outlandish laws and regulations than those fanciful imaginings enacted in the near future.
As you can see, we do indeed have bananas—plenty of them.
Jeff Minick lives in Front Royal, Virginia, and may be found online at jeffminick.com. He is the author of two novels, Amanda Bell and Dust on Their Wings, and two works of non-fiction, Learning as I Go and Movies Make the Man.