Thomas Paine and the Parallel Universes in America Todayby Ian RuskinAge of Reason Productions
I have written a one-man play called
To Begin the World Over Again: the Life of Thomas Paine
and in the process have discovered just how politically isolated we are from each other.
MyGoogle Alerts for Paine have enlightened me as to many web sites, events and points of view,including the YouTube videos of Bob Basso. These videos have inspired me to respond onYouTube atyoutube.com/thelifeofthomaspaineand present the actual words, work and beliefs of Paine, who already leads a distinguished list of the misunderstood in Americanhistory (the “filthy little atheist” was neither filthy nor small, and he was a committed Deist).But Basso’s contributions to the misunderstandings are quite breathtaking and important tochallenge.Yet no one that I know or have met, none of my friends and acquaintances, no one in myaudiences, has heard of Basso, although he has an interesting bio. He is a former televisionshow host in Hawai’i, known for a certain flamboyance, such as reporting the news whilestanding on a large pile of manure, an actor (most recent IMDb listing being Mr. Bob in “OneWest Waikiki, 1996), a motivational speaker, one of the inspirers of the Tea Party, calling onpeople to send a tea bag to their representatives, and one of their favorite speakers. But mostsignificant to me are these videos he that began posting on YouTube in 2009, calling for, ormore accurately ranting, raving and shouting about “taking back the government” and“stopping the illegal invaders from south of the border” and “it’s the UNI –culture that isyour strength”, not to mention talk of “traitors” and “you better get yourself a gun, you’regoing to need it”.Mr. Basso has a right, I suppose, to say all these things as a private American citizen, but hedoes it all dressed up as Thomas Paine, and here I object. This is a complete distortion ofPaine’s words and work and beliefs. Basso might as well dress up as Gandhi and promote the