When MAGA Attempt Irony

Yesterday, in talking about forming one’s conscience in light of Church teaching, we noted that if your exercise of “conscience” always tends to get you off the hook from thinking about anybody but yourself and never binds you to any obligation to consider others, the odds are pretty good you are not a heroic victim-martyr bravely defying a tyrannical Church but are, in fact, just a narcissist who likes to cosplay martyr.

One of the many rich ironies of all this is that when MAGA selfoids attempt the feat of satire, they always wind up a) punching down and b) satirizing only themselves.

The point of satire, of course, is to punch up: to ridicule the powerful in defense of the powerless. But MAGA “satire” is always in defense of the powerful and cruel at the expense of those weaker than themselves, as when this powerful man mocked the disabled:

Trump Mocks Disabled GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Allegedly “prolife” MAGA cultists not only instantly made their peace with that, but pulled out the stops to blame offended members of the disabled community for victimizing this sadistic little bully, thereby making clear that they had not the slightest interest in the dignity of the human person when it stood in the way of their quest for raw, nihilist power.

Nor has anything changed in the next six years. On the contrary, the Cult has adopted the language of the people they hate, not to satirize it, but to make it their own in ways far more nihilist.

See, for instance, this:

(Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

This is imagined by the “prolife” MAGA Murder/Suicide cult to be the height of lib-owning satire. But in fact, it is simply the embrace of the evil that (some) prolifers used to sincerely warn against: namely, the denial of the right for others to live in favor of unadulterated selfishness. I am old enough to remember when, long ago, at least some of the prolife movement cared about the right of the unborn to live and asserted that this right was something they shared in common with all human beings from conception to natural death. The goal was to secure that right for all.

No more. The “prolife” MAGA cult now virulently asserts that their freedom frees them from any consideration for the health and lives of others, born or unborn. Indeed, unlike the pro-choice protestors of yore (many of whom simply did not come from a tradition that believed in the personhood of the unborn and honestly did not see themselves as harming human life), the MAGA “prolife” Murder/Suicide cult somehow manages to still trumpet themselves as “prolife” while defiantly and spitefully doing all in their power to kill both the born and unborn out of no other motivation than petty spite. And so we find protestors from Franciscan University mimicking the language of the pro-choice movement:

And for what? So they can fight to sicken themselves, as well as endanger and kill innocents, including the unborn–all in the service of a MAGA subculture of dogged, perverse, and evil selfishness, combined with a martyr complex that lives in a fantasy world where The Liberals[TM] are coming to take their Freedom.

The Holy Father has made clear that, “Morally everyone must take the vaccine. It is the moral choice because it is about your life but also the lives of others.” But with far less excuse than a non-Christian pro-choice protester ever had, MAGA Catholics at Franciscan University have made clear that no one and nothing stands between them and their selfishness. Even a mask is too much for many of them. That they somehow expect to retain a shred of credibility when they then turn around demand that women endure the challenge of a crisis pregnancy and motherhood would be laughable if it were not so nauseating. The signal achievement of the MAGA “prolife” Murder/Suicide Cult is to make clear that what matters to them is not the dignity and protection of human life from conception to natural death, but power over and punishment of women. And they are at war with the Church and the vulnerable to prove that.

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40 Responses

  1. I think this is just more pies into the food-fight. I doubt it will reach those who need to understand it.

    Catholic writers should be writing more articles about the theological reasoning on why you should get vaccinated and also exposing the false reasoning that supports vaccine refusal (and there are quite many of those kind in NCReg, Crisis etc on these, in addition to those by various Cardinals and priests).

    Perhaps those writings are out there, but it’s not getting the exposure it needs.

    Google could only find one article that’s even close to calling the false theology of the skeptics.( NCRep on Sep 30, quoting Lysaught form the Pontiffical. Academy of Sciences)

    ..These statements offer no reasons that would morally justify conscience-based vaccine exemption from a Catholic perspective,” she continued, adding, “The basis for moral argument no longer is reason, but rather individual feeling, the emotivism of personal preference championed by neoliberalism.”….

    Even in that article, there is no exegesis along that reasoning, (its just a news report after all).

    Sincere people are swimming in a sea of false theology, specifically written and targeted at them, by vested interests. Catholic media and clergy/USCCB have abandoned their mission.

    It’s a hard world for truth when lies are funded orders of magnitude more than truth.

    1. This is an excellent point. The Christian Tradition has a long history of trying to convince through rational, going all the way back to St. Paul reasoning with interlocutors on Mars Hill. But anymore it seems like the goal of many would-be apologists see their vocation as being one of shaming and silencing rather than convincing. It’s as if we have lost the confidence in our transcendent truth claims.

      1. There is no point in attempting reason with people who have wilfully rejected the good of the intellect. Trying to blame people for not casting their pearls before swine or not giving what is sacred to dogs is a typical tactic of the cult that always uses accusation as a form of confession. The problem is the stupid, selfish MAGA cult of narcissists, not their victims who no longer bother trying to talk to wilful liars.

      2. I can’t stand Donald Trump or what has happened to the Republican Party. I am embarrassed on their behalf. My MAGA family members don’t talk to me because I am not enthralled at their would-be savior. I have never voted for Trump or Trump-enablers. But I also realize that a strategy of shaming the shameless even harder in hopes of converting them is a hopeless strategy.

      3. I’m not interested in converting them. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. I’m interested in defeating them and protecting the innocent from their narcissistic selfishness and stupidity. If they will not learn from wisdom, they shall be taught by their own self-inflicted suffering.

      4. Maybe you are more of a fighter than I am. I generally try to avoid fights to the death if at all possible on account of I just might find myself on the losing side of one. Maybe you will defeat MAGA. I would be grateful if you could, or maybe you will empower MAGA world by heightening the contradictions and demanding that everyone take a side. No one controls the outcome of a street brawl. You may not be MAGA but you certainly share their bare knuckle fighting strategies.

      5. I have grand-children whose lives are endangered by these selfish, deadly narcissists cosplaying as martyrs. I don’t have the slightest interest in the world in attempting reason with those who have wilfully killed the good of the intellect in themselves. I leave that to the Holy Spirit. My goal is to either force these people to do what is necessary to protect my grand-children or to force them to places where they cannot harm my grand-children. If that offends their precious feels, too bad for them.

        By the way, “both sides are the same” bullshit is what conservative Christians indulge in as they attempt to exempt themselves from responsibility for still, at this late date, giving aid and comfort to MAGA out of residual tribal loyalty to the GOP while pretending they are morally aloof and above it all. Selfishly killing children and defending them from killers is not the same thing and it is horse shit for you to lie that it is. Have some guts and pick a side.

      6. I didn’t say both sides are the same. I will never forget watching the horror unfold on January 6. I think Donald Trump is the most dangerous demagogue this country has seen in over a century. I think Trump’s media enablers, political toadies, and dark money contributors are building a monster that they think they can control but will ultimately destroy all of us and our form of government. What I meant to convey was that your sneering contempt, name calling, and dismissiveness are doing more to recruit folks like my blue-collar but middleclass cousins to the MAGA banner than anything that rat Tucker Carlson has ever said or done. Be careful with your criticism. Name names and specific allegations. Call out the lies and manipulations of Donald Trump, Sean Hannity, and Steve Bannon. Reveal their shamelessness to the masses and starve the beast of its voters instead of feeding it an endless supply of new recruits.

      7. “You may not be MAGA but you certainly share their bare knuckle fighting strategies” is a Both Sides lie. They want violent overthrow of our democracy and they don’t care if a million people die of plague. I want to be able to tell these swine to get the shot or they have no right to infect the public place to which my grandchildren have a right. Your claim that these are morally identical is crap.

        And it is horseshit to say, “your sneering contempt, name calling, and dismissiveness are doing more to recruit folks like my blue-collar but middleclass cousins to the MAGA banner than anything that rat Tucker Carlson has ever said or done.” Carlson has recruited millions of these selfish morons. I have recruited literally none. Not one. Your desperate need to find moral equivalence and blame everybody but these selfish morons for their own choices only makes clear (yet again) that conservative Christians find it almost impossible to stop blaming those they perceive as “liberal” for the things their demographic does. Put responsibility where it belongs: with your tribe and not with Normals who push back against them.

      8. I am an insignificant nobody that you seriously tried to claim was doing more damage than a demagogue with an audience of *millions* in your desperate attempt to invent a moral equivalence argument that could exonerate the actual people who are actually responsible for the actual evils they do. I get that you are appalled by MAGA and I credit that. But you are still laboring to keep your conservative Christian subculture at arms length from the Frankenstein they have created and for which they bear 100% of the responsibility. It is not the fault of their hated culture war enemies like me that they make the choices they do. I have not caused any of these pathological sociopaths to do what they do. They chose it. Stop trying to blame their spite on the people they labor to spite. Stop making excuses.

      9. I didn’t excuse anyone of anything. I said you had a terrible strategy for dealing with a problem that vexes you that is likely to exacerbate rather than mitigate it.

      10. No. What you said was “your sneering contempt, name calling, and dismissiveness are doing more to recruit folks like my blue-collar but middleclass cousins to the MAGA banner than anything that rat Tucker Carlson has ever said or done”, which is utter horseshit calculated to assign blame for the spiteful, stupid actions of MAGA cultists on the people they hate and not on the demagogues and liars they freely choose to listen to. “You libs *made* MAGA do it” is one of the last desperate lies conservative Christians tell themselves in order to shield their tribe from the fact that they and they alone are responsible for their selfishness, stupidity, and spite. I am a nobody shouting into the wind at a tiny audience, whose sole concern is defending his grandchildren against these selfish bullies. The claim that I am “doing more” than a massively influential liar like Carlson is a desperate absurdity flung out to maintain the fiction of moral equivalence conservative Christians cling to in order to avoid facing their complicity in defending this evil cult.

      11. For the record: It wasn’t you alone. But it definitely was you. I live in the heart of MAGA country. I know MAGA voters in ways you never could. You and I (as college-educated office workers) both imagined that Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” line was a stupid throw away line. But folks in blue collar America took offense in ways that you and I cannot even imagine. You and I and Hillary and Barack and G.W. Bush, and G.H.W. Bush and Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer told the college-dropout working class exactly what we thought of them. Unfortunately, they were listening. At first I thought they were being overly sensitive. Then I thought they were being unreasonable. Then I thought worse things about their racial motivations. Then they elected an emotionally incontinent clown to the Whitehouse. Then they stormed the Capitol. Let me say this for the record: they are wrong and they are fools. But they are violent and engaged and they would rather tear down the system than admit they were wrong. They are dangerous. Shaming them only swells their ranks. We need to intelligently discredit them to their would-be followers and not appear to fear their ideas, only their actions. Either they are a threat to democracy or they aren’t. We need to act accordingly and not indulge our sinful desire to treat them as less than people made in the image and likeness of God.

      12. We agree on pretty much everything except the appeasement strategy. I think “Be Nice to the Monsters” is a terrible idea. The monsters have abandoned the good of the intellect and the Tradition says “Do not cast your pearls before swine, do not give what is sacred to dogs.” I don’t write to persuade selfish monsters. I write to embolden their victims. I believe that excusing them and appealing to their self-pity only makes them worse. I want to strengthen those who have been taught to feel ashamed for feeling anger at these murderous, selfish cruels and tell them they have nothing to feel ashamed of. I want to hearten them to defeat these people. The morons cannot be discredited in their own minds because they are pride blind. But the victims can be brought to see that they are not sinning for wanting to defeat them and can be brought to a place where they forgive them, but do not tolerate their shit. The Both Sides stuff you offer is precisely what keeps victims of these monsters ashamed and quiet. That’s why I protest it so loudly. Stop talking like JD Vance and get firmly on the side of the victims of these self-pitying bullies. (Today Vance is gleefully celebrating a hated culture war enemy’s accidental shooting of somebody, because his pity is reserved exclusively for self-pitying MAGA monsters.) You are almost there. Now take the final, logical step and stop talking as though the victims of these selfish, wicked people are the ones *making* them act the way they do.

      13. @ anson

        You can’t educate people and engage them intellectually if they have no interest in either.

        Ignorant is not knowing. Stupid is not knowing that you don’t know. Stupider is not knowing, and not caring that you don’t know. stupiderer is being proud of it that you don’t.

        Mrs. Clinton was bang on. Deplorable. They don’t live in the same world the rest of us do, and they are proud of it. Guns, god, and now anti vax, anti mask, pro covid. Go to sorryantivaxxers.com . It is a veritable epic of what they think and how they act. I don’t need to treat them as less than created in the image of god. They are doing that all by themselves, and they show that that is exactly what they think of everyone not in their tribe and in their bubble.

        I agree with you that they are dangerous. Covid statistics show this overwhelmingly. But if their imminent demise from an entirely preventable disease is not enough to convince the deplorables that show up at sorryantivaxxers.Com, i can’t image what possibly could.

      14. We are obviously at an impasse and it is difficult to determine what more can be said. You worry about the damage MAGA can do your grandchildren through their irresponsible refusal of the vaccine, while I worry about the damage MAGA can do to my two youngest children (ages 5 and 2) through their irresponsible refusal of the vaccine. The difference is that (through no fault of their own) my 5-year-old and 2-year-old live in one of the lowest vaccinated states in the U.S. and they live there for no other reason than it is where their parents (who know no other home) grew up. Tomorrow the MAGA legislators in my state meet in special session to try to figure out how to thwart common sense public health attempts to vaccinate the public. I don’t have the luxury to worry about appeasing the deplorables. I live alongside them. I always have. Would I appease them now if I could in order to get more of them vaccinated and protect the two little guys that live with me? Yes. Every day of the week and twice on Sundays. But I live where I have lived since before my memory began. And I have seen every perceived antagonism result in increased petulance, rather than changed hearts. I don’t care who wins the political moment. I want to continue hugging my sensitive 5-year-old and precocious 2-year-old while I tuck them in at night.

      15. I am sorry you face this hostage situation and I pray that God protect your little ones from these selfish monsters. Appeasement will never work with them. They will have to be beaten. I write for a national, not local, audience and I do so to hearten the opponents of these monsters to push back. I would urge you to stop telling those who are doing so that they are engaging in some sort of moral equivalence to the monsters. They are not. They are doing the hard work of stopping them. There are going to be local defeats. That is how such struggles go. But the more people stand up and say “NO!” to these bullies, the weaker they will get, not matter how much they scream “YOU MADE US DO IT BY BEING MEAN TO US!” Face down these child killers hiding behind the unborn and using them as human shields.

      16. I honestly think the Cowboys for Trump thing proves my point, not yours. It didn’t take a bunch of people denouncing him as a nihilist and xenophobe. It took someone pointing out that the things the Con Man had promised were not the things delivered. Your strategy is yelling at the marks. My strategy is yelling at the grifters.

      17. No. What it took is what it always takes with these sociopathic narcissists: the experience of their own personal suffering, which they love to inflict on others. He was crushed by two things: that the suffering he hoped to inflict on his culture war enemies never came to pass and that he himself suffered. Zero empathy for anybody but himself. Nothing learned about empathy for other from his own pain. Just me, me, me, me, me. These people only grasp pain when it is their own. Everybody else’s is unreal or an object of mockery. Thus, the cult is currently enjoying the death of innocent woman because it affords them a chance for a roaring good laugh at Alec Baldwin, who they hate as they hate so many people. They only learn (and even then only poorly) from self-inflicted pain. This guy learned very little: just that Trump doesn’t care about him. It’s a bare start. But it’s not something that shows much beyond pain response in a sociopathic narcissist personality.

      18. Do I need to preface each comment with: MAGA is bad? Okay. MAGA is bad, and continues to be bad. People who support Donald Trump are disastrously misinformed and incapable of crtical thinking. If I could, I would have all of them legally adjudicated incompetent and stripped of their vote. But I can’t. So I am going to try to engage them rather than pretend them away. You are hoping that your moral superiority will win the day. It won’t.

      19. No. You just need to stop trying to slap a happy face on conservatives doing evil and stop pretending that things are better than they are with them. There are lots of reason to hope, but there are almost no reasons to think the MAGA cult has learned a damn thing. The fundamental pathologies that created it are not even close to changing yet. Their sociopathic inability to relate to any suffering but their own, their gloating vengefulness against their perceived enemies, their contempt for the weak, their racism, their fathomless sense of self-pity are all intact. And most of them have, in addition to that, a bulletproof pride that (as in that guy’s case) requires intense self-inflicted suffering to crack even a little bit. Now and then, a few of them are forced to face the fact that Trump lied to them. Yet none of them seem to have figured out they lied to themselves. God alone is judge, of course. But we are commanded to weigh the fruit. I see precious little evidence of the thought, “How did my selfishness contribute to this?” and tons of evidence of people like him complaining, “Trump failed to help me be as selfish as I want to be. That is is true failure.”

      20. By the way, you keep talking as though these people are the center of the moral drama (a conceit conservative Christians tend to indulge in their sense of privilege). The notion at the back of what you write that the central struggle is the drama of narcissistic sociopaths who happen to like Christian aesthetics and my need to persuade them, rather than notion that the people they victimize, bully, rob, harm, and kill is at the center. What I’m telling you is that MAGA are not my audience. They are not the Center of All Things, they just think they are and even conservative Christians who reject their MAGA cult still tend to place them at the center of the story and fret about the failure of people like me “win” them.

        I am not writing to persuade them or win them over. I do not cast my pearls before swine. I am writing to hearten their victims to resist them. They cannot be taught by reason because they have rejected the use of reason. They learn–as this guy learned–through their own self-inflicted pain, and even then only barely. The work of grace necessary to bring this guy to metanoia still lies in the future and that is the Spirit’s job, not mine. I pray he finally receives that grace, but it is not mine to infuse it in his heart, mind, and soul. That’s up to God. Meanwhile, I write to help his victims and the Normals trying to fend off the effects of his intense sociopathic selfishness. It’s not All About MAGA Christians. The preferential option is for the poor, not their selfish oppressors filled with an aggrieved sense of entitlement.

    2. The mandates are seemingly designed to keep the food fight going. Each side is fundraising on this, and they both think they have the correct message. I am vaxxed because my doctor gave the OK, and I will get the booster if she says OK. But the mandates are absolutely counterproductive.

      1. The mandates are doing a find job of cleaning the worst people out of law enforcement, health care, and other public sector work. Just because they offend the worst people in the world does not mean they are counterproductive.

    3. “Catholic writers should be writing more articles about the theological reasoning on why you should get vaccinated and also exposing the false reasoning that supports vaccine refusal.”

      Here is an example from another tradition:

      “We wish to clarify that there is nothing in the Bible, in our historic confessions of faith, in our theology, or in our ecclesiology that justifies granting a religious exemption from vaccinations against COVID-19.” – Official statement from Mennonite Church Canada.

      Now we just need similar statements from other and larger church bodies.

      – joel

    4. @. MArk

      You might find this interesting from The friendly Atheist.

      In this 14-minute segment from VICE News, we get a glimpse inside how QAnon conspiracies are invading the walls of evangelical churches — on, in the case of hate-preacher Greg Locke, the curtains of his circus tent.

      https://youtu.be/rYMIozCKxGE

      It’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but it’s still a damning indictment of conservative Christianity. If your faith can’t stop you from believing obviously conspiratorial bullshit, then what’s the use? Why should anyone take you seriously?

      And if you’re a pastor concerned about Q supporters in your congregation, then you have an obligation to speak out against right-wing talking points. That’s not “getting political.” That’s keeping it honest… at least as much as a pastor is allowed to be, anyway. If right-wing extremists are allowed to take up space in your church, it’s only fair that the rest of us blame your church, your faith, and yours leaders. Unless more white evangelical preachers openly denounce the MAGA cultism in their midst, they can’t act shocked when they’re lumped in together with the extremists.

      They’re extremists, too. They just don’t realize it yet.”

  2. Mark, I’m afraid that your justified aversion to MAGA is getting the best of you.

    Why do you assume that those who do not want to get vaccinated are selfish? Some surely are, but I know a good many who are truly and sincerely *terrified* of the vaccine. They fear both imaginary short-term harms and potential long-term ones. I have a very-MAGA friend who had to get vaccinated for work. She did so, but even now, weeks later, is an emotional wreck because of the fear she has about what the vaccine may do to her.

    It may be true that these fears are irrational (fear often is) and, no doubt, these fears are fueled by her consumption of right-wing media. But she is no more selfish than someone who throws up at the thought of getting on an airplane. And calling her selfish isn’t going to help her — or millions of people like her — one bit.

    1. Fair enough. But I am talking about the people who are clearly doing this to “own the libs” and deploying sarcasm in order to rationalize their acts. If they deserve charity for their fears, don’t pro-choice people acting from conscience on behalf of women in crisis pregnancies deserve charity in kind? But the Cult *love* to indulge in contemptuous mockery, not express their fears, but their *hatred*.

  3. @FdS

    There are several defining characteristics of MAGAtry. One of them is uncritical consumption of clear BS on a grand scale. One of them is calling everyone else a whiny little snowflake. And one of them is projection.

    There are more of course. But these would seem to cover your friend.

    There is an interesting website called sorryantivaxxers.com. It is not for the faint of heart, because the lEvel of anger and disgust with the antivaxxers is epic. They are not necessarily sorry, of course, but they are frequently dead or hospitalized. Almost every single person featured therein is a Trumpanzee, a republican, and a bible believing Qhristian. Very nearly everyone of them exhibits nothing but contempt and despite for liberals, atheists, vaxxed people, science, logic, reason, democrats, facts, reality, common sense, history, sound medical and public health practice….

    For a short list.

    One of the things that also defines the vast majority of those making their star appearance is selfishness. I don’t have to look out for you. i don’t have to think about you. My imaginary freedom is more important than your real life. (Same arguments the gun nuts use). We are better than you. My body my choice, and your body my choice as well. I don’t have to care about our society. I don’t have to care about the common good. I don’t have to care about anything or anyone except for my tribe. And the unending drumbeat below it al is trumptrumptrumptrumptrumptrump.

    I have no idea about your friend. But her refusal actually to educate herself is a good indication of where her head is at.

  4. Just a few hours ago I was talking to a teacher who lost his father to Covid two weeks ago. He was only 63 and unvaccinated. He said something to this effect:

    “He watched his parents die of Covid and still refused to get vaccinated. He was a born again Christian…brainwashed by his Facebook friends…”

    If it is illegal to yell “Fire!” in a theater, why does Facebook continue to host misguided people who promote lethal lies? They only care about their revenue stream and amplify algorithms that confuse and incite.

    1. Yah, I’ve been on Facebook 12 years now, but I’m thinking it won’t be much longer before I drop it. FB is an incredibly convenient way to stay in touch with old friends and family, but the harm that FB is doing to society at large is becoming impossible to ignore.

      – joel

      1. I have always had a visceral reaction to Facebook that I can’t entirely explain. It made me feel like I was objectifying my life and my family back when I was on it. Displays of abundance or physical beauty or intelligence just for the sake of being admired makes me cringe. If I wanted to, I could make my life appear 10 times more amazing/admirable than it is–but to what end? The ideas of millions (billions) of people garnering attention in this way seems to me like millions and even billions of people willing to tell a little lie.

        Instagram is similar but in some ways can be the exact same thing as Facebook. When I post things, I try to capture images of beauty that will elevate rather than create jealousy or any form of controversy. I am almost never political. I go to the site to feel good about life and people…Instagram doesn’t make me feel as exploited (or that I am exploiting others) but now that Facebook owns it, it makes me feel a little bit dirty in the same way that Amazon makes me feel dirty.

  5. @ taco

    I agree with you 100%. My friends are all on facebook, and they ask me why I am not. My basic position is that if they want to communicate with me, then talk to me. But I really don’t expect them to care that I went to Macy’s yesterday,

    i don’t know if this is what you are saying, but I don’t need electronic validation that my life is real.

    1. Yeah, I agree Ben. I don’t feel closer to my friends when they document what they did, wore, cooked, ate, redecorated, how much they hate/love politicians or support the fact that it’s Nation Indigenous People day … cringe.

  6. We are our brother’s keepers (our brothers’ blood cries to God from the ground otherwise). We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are not to lie.

    The virus is the enemy of all humanity. Do not listen to the QAnon liars.

    Protect yourself. Protect your family. Protect your community. Vaccinate.

  7. This is one of your best masterpieces, Mark. Although I don’t have the guts to articulate the irony of Trump and the GOP quite the same way, I applaud you for doing so. You have helped restore my faith and hope in Christ and His Church. Thank you for defending the vulnerable and standing up to MAGA bullies. I would give my right arm for half of your spine.

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