Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Stupid Shit Andrew Sullivan's Fans Say

Being a public intellectual in America in the age of social media has always presented a  specific problem for Conservatives:  Gives the reader's expectation of engagement, how does one deal with criticism?

If you are David Brooks or David Frum, you solve the problem by having comment sections that are routinely filled up with responses from tens or dozens or hundreds of readers taking you to task for your lies or elisions or gross exaggerations...

...which you then completely ignore.  You go right on writing about your imaginary alternate universes undisturbed by the noise on the unwashed masses whistling around your digital lintels.

If you are Andrew Sullivan you solve the problem by simply eliminating the comment section -- one of the most fundamental features of a "blog" -- altogether.  No fuss, no muss, no irritating driftglass-types posting rude questions and meany remarks about the silly shit you say!  Instead Mr. Sullivan read emails from readers and, if they are larded up with the very best butter, he occasionally respond to them.

Like, for example, this one:

Part of the thing I've always respected about your perspective is that you have always seemed very much in touch with the sense and direction of America. I think your deep love of this country, coupled with your careful study of it and your outsider viewpoint, have given you a keen sense of the overall mood of America that is quite unique.

Which is true.

Except for the bit about never being able to get it through his thick head that "Republicans" are not "Tories".

And the bit about never being able to get it through his thick head that "American Liberals" are not "Bolsheviks".

And the bit about being constantly surprised that the American Conservative movement is full of crazies and bigots.

And the bit about being in constant denial that the American Conservative movement has been full of crazies and bigots since before Mr. Sullivan was in long pants.

And the bit about not being able to understand that, in America, slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow and all of that were really big fucking deals, and that their grotesque legacies deeply deform our politics and culture to this very day.

And the bit about being completely blind to the fact that a huge percentage of the American Conservative movement is made of up intolerant, anti-science Fundamentalists.

And the bit about being in constant denial that the American Conservative movement has been full of  intolerant, anti-science Fundamentalists since before Mr. Sullivan was in long pants.

But yeah, except for these little anomalies, Mr. Sullivan's understanding of my country's "mood" and "direction" has always been "keen".

Maybe even super-keen!


D. said...

Well, it is unique. And perhaps by "keen," that correspondent meant "mourning ululations."


Fritz Strand said...

Not sure I agree on this with you.
If you follow what is going on in England presently (as also happened with Thatcher) there is a remarkable similiarity between English and American conservatives.

The hallmark of both is they try their very best to get out from under an notion of social responsiblity for anyone but their class. They view everyone but their own as commodities rather than people.

Of course there is rabid racism in this country, but until recently these folks were not running the show. Rather, after the civil war, the same indifference had the ruling business class abandon the south because they had better things to do. You know like screwing everyone.

Swede said...

A hypothetical. What would it take for the dems to go populist instead of this grand bargain/compromise/lie of centrism they seem so fond of?

casimir said...

I'm just glad for Andrew that his mom has the time to keep up with his writing. What with her bingo game and mahjong group, my mom hardly ever sends me nice notes like that.

Anonymous said...

Fritz Strand,

A couple points:

The racists were not only in power recently. George Wallace ran for president as a segregationist in the DNC in 1964, and again as an independent on a segregationist platform in the '68 RNC, where he carried the Deep South block. The Southern Strategy was in use in the 70's. I tried to find the clip on "Up with Christ Hayes" of one of Nixon's staff saying (on, I believe, ABC news) that he sees "no place for the negro in the modern Republican party". In the 80's and 90's it became much more subdued, like misogyny and antisemitism, but it was never gone. Also, it became socially acceptable to talk about Mexicans / Latinos, Muslims, and gays with the same language. (I never new a registered Democrat who would casually say that AIDS is God's way to get rid of undesirables.)

Also, you mentioned racism but left out superstitious and idolatrous religion. To quote Driftglass, these "go together like whips and ball gags." The Values Voters coalition was created shortly after the Southern Strategy because the evangelicals who had become political before had done so as Dixiecrats, and were still stung by the great '64 rebuke. Racism is defended in the pulpit, as are all colors of ignorance, xenophobia, and anti-science superstition. You need God in the mix because without that, you're just a pig-ignorant hick who is afraid of brown people and books. Add God, and you are a noble defender of your faith and warrior against the works of Satan.

In Great Britain, the Catholic vs. Protestant infighting left horrible scars on the country. A friend of mine from Scotland was in many fights in his youth because he was on the "wrong side" or didn't answer fast enough, and even saw a friend get shanked. From everything I have seen, religion in politics is tolerated as long as it is occasional, inspirational, and vague. (The occasional "God bless Queen and Country" sort of comments.)

In the U.S., the Bible is a weapon to be used against your enemies. It has been read into congressional record as testimony. If you look at the anti-choice movements, the anti birth control movement, anti-science crusades, and anti-gay movements, the language of evangelical Christianity clings to it like cheap patchouli incense. Even arguments against climate change often become Jesusy (see Shimkis).


casimir said...

"You need God in the mix because without that, you're just a pig-ignorant hick who is afraid of brown people and books. Add God, and you are a noble defender of your faith and warrior against the works of Satan." Bravo, Mr. Mike K - well-turned and insightful! Indeed, a veritable Driftglass-in-Training!

HitandMiss said...

Drift as an Englishman I see many similarities between the cons on both sides of the pond; however you keep saying that they are not the same.

Could you explain why there different? To me it just seems like Andrew is living up to your rules for republicans, primarily - never admitting they were wrong, and what their history actually is.

Anonymous said...

HEY! That's really unfair of you to criticize Sullivan not having a comment section. Hi readers DON'T WANT ONE! How do we know that? In fact, he told us more than once that most of the feedback he's gotten from his readers and fans "approve" of not having a comment section.

Of course, since he doesn't HAVE a comment section, we have no way of knowing if that is true or not. But an honorable man like Sully would NEVER LIE to us!