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Shitting At Shadows

It seems like all I do around here anymore is complain about politics. Sorry about that, but there are reasons:

- No one will pay me to do it anywhere else
- It turns out that every humor writer I've ever known was right: there's no market for literary humor
- Culture stuff goes to paying clients
- I have no personal life beyond eating and occasionally sleeping
- Politics keeps getting stupider, and this helps lower my blood pressure.

So you're stuck with this kind of nonsense. I had a whole thing planned about how the opposition to a mosque being built near Ground Zero is ridiculous, but it was even more pedantic and boring than these posts usually are, so I decided to drop it. But doraphilia reminded me of this, so blame her.

While I spend a lot of time railing against the various deceits, distortions, cruelties, and outrages of our political system, for the most part, I understand them. I stand on one side of the political spectrum and my opponents stand on the other, but I generally get why they want what they want, or don't want what I want.

Sometimes, though, the right -- and it's not that people on the left never do this, but I think it's more common on the right because an inherent aspect of conservativism is an almost reactionary resistance to change -- expresses some fear or concern that totally bewilders me, because it's a fear of something that's obviously not happening, and isn't going to happen. A perfect example of this is some of the more extreme Tea Party hysteria: I keep hearing people talk about how their Constitutional rights have vanished and they want their country back after it's been steered down the Stalinist path by the Kenyan usurper Obama, and I think: what the fuck are these people even talking about? What constitutional rights have vanished? What statist evil has been forced on us? As far as I can see, with the exception of a largely toothless health care reform program, this country is almost exactly the same as it was a year before Obama was elected. And that includes a bunch of stuff that we elected Obama to take care of.

So this thing, in an article about conservative Christian protests against the building of new mosques, just made my head spin:

"In Islam, a mosque means 'We have conquered this country,'" one man told a local CNN affiliate. "And where are they? They're in the center of Tennessee. They're going to say, 'We have conquered Tennessee.'"

Okay, first of all, that's not what a mosque means. But more to the point, even if it was, just SAYING "We have conquered Tennessee" doesn't mean they have conquered Tennessee. Even if they were to say that, which they won't, it doesn't make it true. Does this guy actually believe that Muslims are going to build a mosque and then the next day he'll wake up and be subject to shari'a law, his wife in a burqa and bacon no longer part of his nutritional breakfast? That's obviously not going to happen! We live in a world with plentiful actual things to worry about; why devote mental energy to worrying about things that are non-existent or impossible?

It's the same thing with these dolts who worry about how "multiculturalism" and "political correctness" have made it so that you can't learn Shakespeare in college anymore. That's not even remotely true. If you want to bitch about multiculturalism and the death of the canon, go formulate a decent argument and come back when you're ready to make sense. Don't come to me with sheer nonsense that can be refuted in five seconds. You can look at the course catalogs of any university in America and see that the teaching of Shakespeare and Milton and all those other Dead White Males is alive and well, and it's never going to disappear from higher education, ever. So why worry? Don't you have any REAL problems?


Jul. 22nd, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
I, for one, appreciate the political complaining you do!

And I definitely feel you on this. Corporate greed? OK, they stand to make a lot of money. It doesn't make it OK, but it makes it at least make sense in their evil way. But this doesn't make sense at all.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC)
Sure, sure, it's all fun and games until you wake up one morning to the sound of the muezzin and you're married to Maya Angelou!

My answer: No, they do not have any real problems. They are so flaccid inwardly and out that positing a looming dystopia they can combat with minimal, keyboard-centric effort is a thrill. It's a mighty state of boredom to which one prefers being in a hot lather for no reason. I've been there, but then I got a hobby, a good book and a gym membership.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
I think sometimes they do have real problems-- and don't want to admit that the people they trusted to help/serve them CREATED those problems to begin with.

I'm sure many Gulf staters thought that the Bush administration's refusal to tighten oil drilling regulations was a perfectly fine decision.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
don't want to admit that the people they trusted to help/serve them CREATED those problems to begin with

Jul. 22nd, 2010 08:53 pm (UTC)
Go easy on the poor guy from Tennessee. He's just trying to flatter himself that he and his state are worthy of conquest. For this he deserves more pity than scorn.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
A perfect example of this is some of the more extreme Tea Party hysteria: I keep hearing people talk about how their Constitutional rights have vanished and they want their country back after it's been steered down the Stalinist path by the Kenyan usurper Obama

Yeah, this is the most baffling thing to me. Obama's "crackdown on guns" has consisted of allowing gun owners to carry in national parks.

Culture stuff goes to paying clients

Tell me how to get that gig. I keep giving away my culture for free.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
this country is almost exactly the same as it was a year before Obama was elected

...but he's BLACK!
Jul. 22nd, 2010 10:15 pm (UTC)
It comes down to fear, I think. The right-wing spin machine convinces millions of people to act (and vote!) against their own best interests by drilling it into them that black is white and up is down, and they eat it up because they're afraid. Afraid of the Muslim socialist immigrants, the atheist communist Nazis, the pacifist homosexual elitists who want to raise their taxes and take their guns.

But what they're really afraid of is the civil rights, the slow but steady progress that's been made over the past half-century, because shit, if we start giving rights to women and gays and transpeople and brown people and poor people and immigrants and the disabled, it'll erode the privilege they were told they'd earned by virtue of their birth as "real Americans," and that's fucking terrifying.

These people feel like they're under attack, and they are: little by little, the hearts and minds of the mainstream are leaving their entitled narrow-minded xenophobia behind. So these lies—"you can't learn Shakespeare anymore because multiculturalism," "Obama's secretly a jihadist who wants to destroy America," Sarah fucking Palin's motherfucking "death panels"—are transparently, demonstrably false, but they feel true, and they're a tangible target for hatred and fear in a way the zeigeist isn't.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
Your political writing is appreciated here, too. My theory about movement conservatism's steady detachment from reality is that it's immaturity and cognitive dissonance - that they, bluntly, can't handle the truth. Not any truth more complex than "if we kill the right people, all the problems will go away."
Jul. 22nd, 2010 11:19 pm (UTC)
Muslim "takeover" of Baptist stronghold?
There are already six mosques in the greater Nashville area.

There are approximately 648 Baptist, Church of Christ, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Christ Scientist, 7th Day Adventist, Episcopalian, Assembly of God, Nazarene, Church of God, Pentacostal, Church of Christ Prophecy, Latter Day Saints, Christian Reform...

Hell, the fucking Southern Baptist Convention has a corporate fucking headquarters downtown that covers most of a city block and bears a crucifix that's about 18 stories high.

And they're worried about some Islamic Center taking over what was once a Carmike Cinema multiplex? (They were outbid by a state technical college, but the Muslims were going to pay cash rather than finance, so a mosque it will become... that is, if the screaming ninnies trying to kibosh the deal don't get their way.)

It's almost comical, if it isn't so sad. The sole Democratic candidate for governor was recently asked about this "issue," and he said that "mosques don't belong in neighborhoods." Apparently they belong in abandoned railyards, in highway medians, or in an unincorporated warehouse district far from human habitation. He cited how disruptive that they are, and I was just thinking, "Man, there's that one mosque over in that 12 Ave. South neighborhood where the pernicious influence of shari'a has just steamrollered THOSE THREE GAY BARS that are situated right between it and Mecca!" Somehow, they manage to coexist.
Jul. 23rd, 2010 03:51 am (UTC)
Re: Muslim "takeover" of Baptist stronghold?
And there's Murfreesboro. People there are yelling about a mosque that could be set up there. The best thing to come out of this was that local stores stopped carrying the "Murfreesboro Reader," a loony right-wing rag. The owner claims that someone went around calling the stores and asking them not to carry a "racist" publication.
Jul. 23rd, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
One theory I entertain about the recent uptick in old white people protesting about things, political or otherwise, is that for their entire lives they have envied the left for their protests. Protesting can be fun, I‘ve enjoyed it even while believing sincerely in the issues I was protesting about, and it looks like your Tea Party people are having the time of their lives, waving their signs and shouting and getting all heated up and being surrounded by people who really really agree with themselves. I‘ve seen this before in Australia when they organised protests against such things as bike lanes and increased taxes on petrol. They seem to wade into the protests with triumphant glee as though they were thinking “Now it‘s our turn to protest, isn‘t this grand!“
Jul. 24th, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
I think the far right is quite enamored of "the big lie"; it fits so nicely in the Nazi toybox that they so much admire.

Did you see Krugman's column in the NY Times yesterday? The GOP are desperately trying to "rehabilitate" the presidency of "Bush 43" by whitewashing out-and-out lying about it, so that they can carry on its policies even more than Obama has.

"On the economy: Last week Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, declared that 'there’s no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue, because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy.' So now the word is that the Bush-era economy was characterized by 'vibrancy.'

"I guess it depends on the meaning of the word 'vibrant.' The actual record of the Bush years was (i) two and half years of declining employment, followed by (ii) four and a half years of modest job growth, at a pace significantly below the eight-year average under Bill Clinton, followed by (iii) a year of economic catastrophe. In 2007, at the height of the 'Bush boom,' such as it was, median household income, adjusted for inflation, was still lower than it had been in 2000.

"But the Bush apologists hope that you won’t remember all that. And they also have a theory, which I’ve been hearing more and more — namely, that President Obama, though not yet in office or even elected, caused the 2008 slump. You see, people were worried in advance about his future policies, and that’s what caused the economy to tank. Seriously."

I'm surprised that the far right wing-nuts haven't been fulminating about how 9/11 was actually masterminded by the crypto-Islamofascist socialist currently in the White House. Give it time, give it time....