Log in

No account? Create an account


Ramming Speed, Starring Bill As Speed

One never likes to judge before the facts are in, but I'm pretty sure that Bill Whittle is the most ridiculous person in the world. (NOTE: That article is a few months old, but it hasn't gotten any less stupid since it was first published, and I don't see why I should be the only one still having to suffer from it.) The fact that he is paid to voice his ludicrous opinions in any public forum is proof that there are people who watched Duck Soup and said "What Hollywood needs is more of that guy who played Ambassador Trentino".

I could go through "The Iceberg" and point out its innumerable lies, distortions, exaggerations, misinterpretations, and hysterical pants-wettings, but it would just waste even more time than it took to read the thing in the first place. An honest, intelligent analysis of the column would be like writing an academic paper on the utterances of the wealthy dowager in the Three Stooges shorts: even the guy who wrote it doesn't really intend for us to pay much attention to it.

Instead, I'll just point out that he takes the story of the Titanic -- perhaps the most serviceable, all-purpose metaphor of the entire 20th century -- and manages to fuck it up, not once, but many times. Whittle dips his toe in the treacherous waters of the comparing-things-to-other-things game by suggesting that the lesson of the Titanic wasn't about man's hubris, or the folly of believing one could achieve perfection impervious to damage: no, the lesson of the Titanic was that the Titanic was awesome:

Had the lookout on Titanic seen that iceberg only a few seconds later, she would have hit it straight-on. It would have crumpled the bow, and a few hundred people would have been killed in the collision – but she would have stayed afloat, and instead of 1,490 people drowning in those icy waters, she would have limped home to New York, been refitted and repaired, and continued to do what she was built to do: bring people to America – to freedom. She represented what was best in us: vision, industry, ingenuity and hard work. That ship deserved to come home.

Some people would suggest that the bolded comment represents just the sort of blinkered exceptionalism that led to the ship sinking in the first place, but those people are communists. Whittle goes on to mix his metaphor like Tom Cruise mixes drinks in Cocktail -- that is, in a flashy but utterly incoherent and, in the end, unappetizing way. We ("we" being decent, God-fearing, white American capitalists) are the Titanic, and the iceberg is progressivism, liberalism, communism, the Frankfurt School, Hollywood celebrities, and people who think slavery was bad. Only, see, the iceberg is HOLLOW! Which means that what we should do is RAM the iceberg (commies) with the Titanic (us) at full speed, because that means that we (Americanism) will shatter the iceberg (the Red Menace) into a million pieces! The alternative, Whittle assures us, is too awful to contemplate:

We need to put in all the power we have – all of the power – and go right at the heart of that monster. Because everyone talks about what the iceberg did to Titanic, but no one talks about what Titanic did to the iceberg.

Boy, that's true! I never thought of it that way! That iceberg could still be out there, murdering innocent capitalists to this very day! Who will bring the iceberg to justice?

So, to recap, here is what the master of metaphor manages to do with the most un-fuck-up-able metaphor in history:

1. He suggests that the problem with the Titanic wasn't that it was thought to be so invulnerable that hubris led it into a dangerous situation, but rather that everyone remembers the dangerous situation instead of how awesome and invulnerable the Titanic was.

2. He suggests that capitalism (which he is apparently attempting to defend) is like the Titanic, which sank with all hands aboard and killed almost everyone, while progressivism (which he is apparently attempting to attack) is like the iceberg that destroyed the Titanic.

3. He further suggests that capitalism should attack progressivism with its full strength, which, in the context of his metaphor, means that what the Titanic should have done is hit the iceberg even harder than it actually did.

4. He goes on to suggest that the result of this action (the Titanic ramming the iceberg at full speed) would be that the iceberg would sink, because it is hollow.

5. He implies in passing that the Titanic might have actually done a great deal of damage to the evil iceberg, but nobody ever talks about that, probably because of political correctness where everyone just focuses on the vast loss of innocent human life and ignores our glorious victories against the villainous masses of frozen water.

To their credit, even some of his readers (who, being Pajamas Media readers, are hardly the brightest stars in the firmament) get on Whittle's case about this absurdist masterpiece ("Uh, wait, so we in the ship are supposed to intentionally run into the iceberg?"), but that doesn't stop Whittle from promising that in his NEXT column, he will spell out specific program-related steps we on the Titanic can take to "whip these communists out of their boots". Regardless of that stirring language, which no doubt fires the hearts of all God-fearing Americans circa 1952, I'm not too worried that he's going to start handing out firearms and floor plans to National Public Radio HQ. This, after all, is the guy who took a year-long hiatus from his blog to actually plan some kind of floating city in the sky for he and his fellow Libertarians to live in, and then never mentioned it again after it became clear even to his fans how completely full of shit he was.


Sep. 29th, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
Are you sure this isn't just some publicity stunt for a future BioShock game?
Sep. 29th, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
This, after all, is the guy who took a year-long hiatus from his blog to actually plan some kind of floating city in the sky for he and his fellow Libertarians to live in,

Sep. 30th, 2010 03:17 am (UTC)
Holy shit, where did that come from? That's amazing.
Sep. 30th, 2010 04:15 am (UTC)
Bioshock Infinite, the... I dunno, "sidequel" to Bioshock, where instead of being in an underwater city in the late '50s that went nuts due to Objectivism, you're in a floating city in the '20s that went nuts due to nativism and fired on an European city after the World's Fair. If the gameplay video is to be believed, that "masterpiece" is pretty much the first thing you see in game.
Sep. 30th, 2010 07:42 pm (UTC)
Ah, I wasn't sure how much Columbia's attitudes paralleled Rapture's.

I'm still waiting for someone to show up at a Tea Party rally with that. Extra points if they aren't a stealth satirist.
Sep. 29th, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC)
It probably goes without saying, but one should probably avoid getting on a boat with this ass clown at all costs.

"Attack everything head-on whether it's a good idea or not" is a strategy I don't put much faith in, but I look forward to the results of Whittle's fistfight with the Himalayas.
Sep. 29th, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
I wonder if it has ever occurred to Bill Whittle that the capitalism of the 1910s was more like the Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic? She avoided any encounters with icebergs and went on sailing until 1935, when the depression finally sent her to the scrap heap.
Sep. 30th, 2010 01:25 am (UTC)
He's right, if they'd just left the deck chairs as they were everything would have been fine.

Sep. 30th, 2010 03:19 am (UTC)
I guess I'm another victim of Poe's law? I mean, seriously, everyone talks about what the iceberg did to Titanic, but no one talks about what Titanic did to the iceberg is exactly the kind of thing I'd write if I were writing a parody of shoddy, half-assed public punditry.


flavored with age
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator
Ludic Log


Leonard Pierce is a freelance writer wandering around Texas with no sleep or sense of direction. If you give him money he will write something for you. If you are nice to him he may come to your house and get drunk.

Latest Month

December 2016
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow