March 30, 2007
That Was Then, This Is Still Then. To Them. You Dig?
Just a few Spring mullings...
The more I ponder the Democrats, the more amazed am I at their anachronism. They insist upon living in the past. But unlike Civil War reenactors or the Society for Creative Anachronism, the Left also insists that the rest of us live in their past, as well.
Virtually every position they actually take -- and there aren't many -- is an attempt to relive the "good, old days" of the 1960s (actually, a fantasy 60s that's more like Tribes, Billy Jack, or Hair). In their own tepid way, they are as anxious to recreate a bygone era as are Islamic fundamentalists... which may be one reason they find it easier to understand our enemies than fellow Americans.
Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho
First and most obvious is the Democratic/liberal/New Left support for governance by protest. Back in the very late 60s and early 70s, "protest" was more than a means of political expression; it became, for the first time in American history, a lifestyle choice for a small but influential segment of the populace... a populace that has now grown old (if not up) and seized the levers of governmental power.
The 1960s saw the rise of the professional agitator in America; in this, they mimicked the professional rabble-rousers of Europe, starting in the late 19th century and through the early 20th. But as usual in America, nothing succeeds like excess: Our professional agitators became an entire "class."
Thousands of people decided to take Timothy Leary's advice to "turn on, tune in, drop out" without having the least idea what Leary was talking about: There was a chance to freeload in there somewhere, and by golly, they were going to grab it! Most of the hippies weren't particularly political; but when the Yippies took over the "movement," it became explicitly hard-left; in fact, the Youth International Party paved the way for the Symbionese Liberation Army, the ultimate expression of "action directe."
Action directe, besides being the actual name of an actual terrorist group in France, is the philosophy that rational discussion is no longer sufficient to change the direction of the country towards socialism (or more often, Stalinism). Rather, revolutionaries must take "direct action"... that is, protest, sabotage, and violence.
Political violence is like a drug that comes with a built-in higher rationale:
- It gives the user an amazing high;
- It's addictive;
- It becomes all-consuming, so that the addict must drop out of the normal world. Soon, it's the only thing that matters in the addict's life.
(Terrorism is the ultimate example of action directe, of course; but that takes more courage than is found in most American lefties... to our great good fortune.)
As anybody knows who has paid attention in the past few years, protest as a way of life, which had faded from view for decades, is back... big time. Cindy Sheehan may be the best exemplar. (Warning, harshness alert!) She appears to have filled the void left by her son Casey's heroic death in Iraq with perpetual protest against... well, virtually everything. It's hard to pin her down.
But she has abandoned her real family (including her other son) in favor of the permanent-protester acolytes, who call her "Mother Sheehan" and treat her like a visiting saint.
Sheehan is joined on the agitation circuit by virtually every major Democratic politician; they drift from protest to protest, delivering drive-by remarks on a variety of subject about which they are ignorant. At each venue, they lead the audience in some version of the "hey, hey, ho, ho" chant -- e.g., "Hey, hey, ho, ho, western civ has got to go!"
Puppets and pageantry fill the empty corners of their lives the way that family, friends, and civic activities fill the lives of real Americans. I mean literal puppets: Giant marionettes and Hindenburg-sized inflatable animals are perennials at every major protest, just like they are at every children's party.
Most of the perennial protesting politicians did at least go to university during the 60s; but curiously, many were not, in fact, hippies, Yippies, or protesters themselves (think Hillary Clinton). So it may not be nostalgia so much as a "mulligan." It's an attempt to go back in time and actually engage in the socially conscious behavior they always secretly admired, longed to join, but lacked the courage to do: They wish they could have been, if not Jerry Rubin or Abbie Hoffman, at least John Kerry or Jane Fonda.
And of course, given the age advantage of most Democratic party leaders and the fact that they have at least confabulated memories of the great protest "movement" of the 60s, they still receive the worshipful attention of the mass of today's 20-something protesters -- giving them a hit of a stronger and more addictive drug: guruhood.
For those who want a taste of action directe but aren't gutsy enough to go skinny dipping in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, the natural analog is governance by judicial fiat: They take their political theater into the courtroom, shop for a sympathetic judge, and parade a circus of pathetic victims whose woes can only be cured by the direct judicial imposition of socialism, atheism, infanticide, and euthanasia.
Hey, hey, LBJ...
The 60s protests had two distinct foci: the civil-rights movement and the anti-war movement. The latter is most obviously relevant today, with the Iraq war dominating the American consciousness like the Incredible Hulk.
It's one thing to protest the plight of the poor, American support for fascist dictators, genetically engineered corn, abortion rights, grapes, or trans-fats. It is an altogether finer thing to protest a war.
For one thing, wars are big, violent, and obvious; you don't need to enunciate a complex explanation of the evils of war -- as you do when protesting the evils of carbon dioxide, which everybody exhales and green plants love.
All you need do is show pictures of dead, bloody bodies, and you're in business. Who could possibly be in favor of dead and/or mulilated kids? The only trick is to make people believe that America is responsible whenever the enemy commits an atrocity... which is not a difficult task, as most people around the world believe that the American government is God and can do anything it wants. So if it's not preventing some catastrophe, the only explanation is -- they want it to happen!
Thus, President Bush wanted Hurricane Katrina to kill those hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana, because the victims were all poor, black Democrats. He wanted the tsunami to wipe out large portions of the developing world. And he certainly wanted those 650,000 (or was that 650 million?) innocent civilians to die horribly in Iraq.
The first two are hard sells, because most Americans are somewhat skeptical of the ability of the President of the United States to prevent natural disasters by signing the Kyoto Protocol. But since we did, in fact, invade Iraq -- a peaceful country led by an enlightened leader who was keeping the Islamists at bay and bringing prosperity and love to his people -- that's an easy sell to anyone who doesn't like Bush. Or Republicans. Or Southerners. Or anyone who believes in the biblical God.
But being anti-war is more than just protesting; it too is a way of political life. Being anti-war means never having to say you're guilty: It provides absolution for any other sin you may commit. This time, think of the corrupt Rep. John Murtha (D-PA, 65%) -- or the ambulance-chasing, settlement-extorting John Edwards.
You don't even need to enunciate a coherent anti-war position, one that tackles the original danger that sparked the war in the first place. All you need do is intone the appropriate mantra -- "war is not the answer," "give peace a chance," "the survivors will envy the dead," "Bush lied, people died" -- and you never have to answer the question of what would have happened had we not gone to war.
War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. So obviously, we must have peace at any price... even if the price is surrender to jihad.
No justice, no peace!
The original cause that spawned the protests of the 60s was civil rights; mass ant-war protest came later. There is a huge advantage to trying to recreate the civil rights era in today's political culture, but there is also a minor drawback:
There really, truly was a nationwide culture of racism and bigotry that had to be overcome, not just in the South but everywhere: Consider the "zoot-suit riots" in Los Angeles, for only one example.
Few people today could look back with equanimity at what ordinary Americans, just a few decades ago, could say and support without feeling shame. Segregation was not invented; and we really did have whites-only public facilities, government sponsored terrorism against Jews, blacks, Hispanics, and Chinese, and concentration camps for Americans of Japanese descent (Michelle Malkin notwithstanding).
- But on the other hand, no such climate exists today. Thus, effective protesters must invent one.
That challenge means the agitator must identify all three elements: the victim, the perp, and the crime. But this can actually be a strategic advantage (when life gives you lemons, squirt lemon juice in people's eyes). During the actual civil-rights era, it was easy for people to ensure they were on the right side: just oppose racial discrimination (Jim Crow laws) while supporting racial discrimination (affirmative action), and you were home free!
But when the Left gets to indentify not only the actors but even the crime itself, then everyone is potentially guilty... so no one is secure.
- Yesterday, the victims were oppressed atheists, the bigots were those who believe in the Judeo-Christian God, and the crime was allowing any cross to be visible anywhere in the United States, rather than hidden decently behind closed church doors. (And sometimes not even there; I cite the College of William & Mary.)
- Today, the victims du jour are radical Moslems, the bigots are those who support the war on global jihad, and the crime is failing to respect the jihadists' religion, which requires them to throw the Jew down the well.
- In early 2001, the victims were Afghan women, the bigots were freshman President George W. Bush and his administration, and the crime was doing absolutely nothing to boot the Taliban out of Afghanistan. See how adaptable the game is?
Maybe tomorrow, the victims will be religious Christian leftists who believe in liberation theology, the bigots will be secular Americans, and the crime will be refusing to vote for socialized medicine and same-sex marriage. We shall overcome!
Where have all the flowers gone?
The Democratic Party has three core crusades, in order of increasing abstraction:
- End the Iraq war at any price: So they agitate for withdrawal, release of political prisoners such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, and reinstating the draft, Rep. Charles Rangel's (D-Harlem, 95%) favorite hobby horse: Terror of the draft spawns million-mom anti-war rallies.
- Eliminate the Jim-Crow laws that elevate Judeo-Christian culture and oppress other religions, such as Islam, Wicca, and Santeria: So they agitate for polygamy, gay marriage, and animal sacrifice.
- Suppress democracy -- legislative action -- in favor of judicial decree and action directe: So they support activist judges and nominate politicians who cater to protest groups, from CAIR, to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, to NOW, to NARAL, to International ANSWER, to NAMBLA.
Each affords the opportunity for Democrats to revel in a past that never was -- or at least never was for them; to riot and agitate and feel the joy of bluster and bravado without the actual risk of combat; to fulfill every libertine fantasy they ever dreamt while toiling away in college; to feel self-righteous and wash away the sins that bedevil them; and simply to indulge the childish desire to run off and join the carnival (complete with a Washington freak show that dims the luster of the geek, the fat lady, and the half-man, half-woman).
Nostalgic for yesterday, frightened by tomorrow, and befuddled by today, the Democrats drive pedal to the metal, while staring fixedly in the rear-view mirror. I hope the American people prefer to watch where we're going.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 30, 2007, at the time of 3:59 PM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/1926
The following hissed in response by: Ostar
I have nothing to add except to say there is nothing really to add. After lurking for so long I have to say Dafydd it's a pleasure to read and learn here on Big Lizards.
The following hissed in response by: nk
These posts of Dafydd's and Sachi's, where the only thing you can say is "well said", are all too frequent on this site. It's moderately annoying to a kibitzing kvetch like me who is left holding on to his two-cents' worth.
The above hissed in response by: nk at March 31, 2007 2:35 PM
The following hissed in response by: kimsch
Dafydd and Sachi put into words what the rest of us were only thinking and they do it in such an excellent way.
The above hissed in response by: kimsch at March 31, 2007 2:49 PM
The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh
Thanks, guys... but this all reminds me of Friend Lee when he went on a job interview once.
The interviewer looked over his resume, interviewed him, and then finally announced, "I'm sorry, but you're overqualified for the job."
To which Friend Lee responded, "then hire me, and I promise to slough off!"
The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh at March 31, 2007 4:20 PM
The following hissed in response by: Fritz
Don't you dare slough off Dafydd. And tell the gracious and talented Sachi not to do so either. Seeing new posts at Big Lizards always brightens my day because even on the rare occasions on which I might disagree with part of what you say, you write in an entertaining manner and support your positions with logic. That makes Big Lizards much different than many blogs where the bloggers seem to think that by shouting the loudest, or repeating something time after time, makes it true. I also enjoy the comments sections because you attract a group of commenters who normally take the time to think. Big Lizards is one of four blogs I check daily, and it is by far the best written. So pat yourself on the back for me, and give Sachi one also.
Now to get to the subject of the post. I would add to what you wrote that I think they are also trying to re-capture the feeling of their "Camelot", although it was never what they thought it was. Their hero, JFK, got almost none of his domestic programs adopted, and his handling of the Bay of Pigs is something they conveniently overlook. And if Bush's Attorney Generals ran the Justice Department like Bobby did, they would be screaming for Bush's impeachment. Oh dang, I forgot some of them are already doing so.
The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh
Big Lizards is one of four blogs I check daily, and it is by far the best written.
Thanks! Of course, if the other three are Daily Kos, Shakespeare's Sister, and Sadly No... <g>
The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh at March 31, 2007 9:01 PM
The following hissed in response by: Fritz
ROFLAO; Really Dafydd, you left out the best ones, like MYDD, or Amanda Marcotte, or Melissa McEwan. In fact, you have a way to go before you could even comment on their sites. Keep working at it and maybe someday you will be good enough to be accepted as a commenter at the Huffington Post. Remember, you must learn to crawl before you can walk. I fear that dreams of being a Kos Kid are beyond reach, but it never hurts to to set your sights high.
Anyhow, if that was an attempt to trick me into telling you which ones they are, let's just say you have posted on one of them in times past, BBL (before Big Lizards). That should narrow it down a little. One, from the great northland of the country, you often cite or debate, and the last has a broad range of postings from a Libertarian viewpoint and is very popular. Heh There are a number I frequently check, but not always every day.
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