Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dumb all over, a little ugly on the side

In which I discuss matters that have no bearing whatsoever on jazz. Except to the extent that jazz, I imagine, would suffer too if we end up having an all-out civil war in this country.

Wait, did I say "civil war"? I meant "debate over health care."

Anyway, you heard about this dude who brought his only special friend to a recent Obama protest, right?

And then you probably read or saw how he was just one out of many! And it's all legal and shit!

"I come from another state where 'open carry' is legal, but no one does it, so the police don't really know about it and they harass people, arrest people falsely," the man, who wasn't identified, said in an interview aired by CNN affiliate KNVX. "I think that people need to get out and do it more so that they get kind of conditioned to it."

I love how this guy was concerned about the dangers of being "harassed." His concern was particularly evident in the great care he took not to harass other people. Cuz nothing says "I'm not harassing you" like an assault weapon at a political protest.

I love too the invocation of revolutionary times (ya gotta check the video for that little gem). Cuz the founding fathers were all about arming their African-American friends. (Wait: they weren't? Double wait: they didn't have any African-American friends?!)

Tim F. at my beloved Balloon Juice has a spot-on take:

The sad part is that we do not even have to wait to see what happens next. Half a mile from my house a relatively ordinary freeper/stormfronter shot three policemen because he thought Obama would take his guns away.

All these guys need is one martyr to put on their t-shirts and name blogs after. Nobody needs to get shot, although they would love it if someone did. Their intense police state paranoia will be validated enough when a local cop confiscates some bubba’s precious AR-15. Rumors were enough to send several recent crazed shooters over the edge. How many more need just one aggrieved victim of guvmint overreach with a photo and a name?

The second funny thing is that I don’t think that any of these guys have any idea what to do when they have their little revolution. I suppose they hope to take power just by making America ungovernable by anyone else.


Honestly, I would pay good money to watch people who associate book learnin’ with the enemy try and fail to produce a modern-day Federalist Papers. If they do manage something it will be the first book ever written in all caps.

* * * * *

Do you remember that moment, back on the playground, however many years ago, when you were involved in the sort of well-meaning roughhousing that kids do, and suddenly there was this transition? Such that said roughhousing instantly morphed into a whole other kind of situation, one in which it became apparent that someone was really going to get hurt?

We're living through one of those moments right now, I do believe. Writ large and in very slow motion. (And I say that knowing full well my own proclivity for overcautiousness about such things. Though I'll repeat: one should never underestimate the power of a fringe, especially a fringe with laptops.)

The left cries "foul" (understandably) whenever Obama pulls back from some stated campaign goal, some longed-for move toward progressive change. We decry the urge toward bipartisanship as naive, Kumbaya-drenched nonsense. We pass around our little hoax posters. We argue that Bush, who we never agreed with, at least had the right strategy for getting shit done. It was (surprise!) a simple strategy: he just did it, and damn the consequences.

But it's more complicated than that, isn't it? Bush was a white president in a majority white country. He never faced the threat of armed insurrection. No one ever questioned his citizenship. No one ever accused him of being in cahoots with terrorists. He was compared with a chimp, it's true, but never a chimp shot dead by cops in the street. He could throw his political muscle around, even in the face of his own illegitimacy, because he had the weight of tradition on his side.

Which is not to say that no progressive ever longed, in a fit of rage, to punch Bush in the nose. But the idea of violence against that president was only ever raised in jest. And even then, it was immediately booed by progressives themselves. Instead, we chose to fight back with words. Of course, that didn't work out as well as we hoped, cuz Bush realized, in his oddly, perhaps accidentally postmodern way, that words were merely tools, and that you could say whatever you wanted, and it would be "true" if you repeated it enough and gave it an aura of gravitas. And in the end the worst physical threat he ever faced was a friggin' shoe, thrown (inaccurately) by someone from another country, after the target was already a lame duck. It's just not the same.

Which is also not to say that progressives should take the pressure off Obama whenever it appears he is giving up on an important principle (in fact, I suspect that he welcomes such pressure). Or that any of us should be intimidated into submission by the rabble-rousers -- that's exactly what they want. But even as we insist on follow-through, we have to see the administration's dance, such as it is, in a realistic context -- one that includes this bullying, ignant, violent, worst-of-the-60s-style survivalist bullshit.

[Photo credit: peterPIPERpickedTHEpeppers.]


Numinous said...

With all of this 'bringing a gun to political events' nonsense, I'm reminded of a quote the Jeff Goldblum character in Jurassic Park said about bringing back the dinosaurs, the scientists "were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

While I'm all for exercising your rights, it's hard not to see a self-fulfilling prophecy possibly happening: some accident with one of these guns at a rally, causing a crack down with the gun-advocates get up in arms (both literally and figuratively) and a 'see I told you" attitude, making things much more caustic and dangerous.

I do wonder how much of this is motivation by racial concerns (the 'brother-with-the-gun' aside)? If asked certainly most of them would say no, but it is hard to see that it doesn't have some effect. Would this be happening if Hillary were President?

Anonymous said...

There was a good op-ed in the L.A. Times today, which made the point that the mainstream media, including Lou Dobbs at CNN, deserves some of the blame for fostering this hysteria.,0,3225096.column

And as horrible as the assassination would be in and of itself, just take a few seconds to imagine the aftermath. Jesus F. Christ.

Jason Parker said...

The fact that Lou Dobbs is considered part of the "mainstream media" is a crime in and of itself. Before cable TV he would have been a fringe loony. Too bad he didn't stay that way...

And the self-fulfilling prophecy is likely, not probable.

Can't we all just get along??

Andrew Durkin... said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, all. That LA Times piece is very well done.