Ten years ago, Steve Gilliard was still with us. He was one of blogging's heavy hitters, and I was a noob freshly kicked from the nest of his comment section out it the big, scary world. He and Jen were very kind to me, tossing me links every now and then and putting me onto their blogroll. Over the course of time we had a few online back-and-forths of this kind (from June, 2005.)
I still miss the guy and I still wonder "what if?"
This from Mr. Gilliard
got me to thinking...Here's a bit of it: go read the rest here.Willful blindnessWe are blind until we can seePeople need to realize something: the only way the vast majority of Americans will turn against the Iraq war and agitate for an end is an unmistakable disaster.You can protest Congress, waste your time talking about the Downing Street Memo, but that isn't going to change anything.Congress is a conconspirator with Bush and many, on both sides of the aisle, live in fear of being seen as soft on terror. No matter that his policy is a disaster. Renditions, secret prisons all of these things people would have once screamed murder about are now just background noise. People don't care, and they especially don't care about Arab lives. People still think if we kill enough Arabs we'll get them to come to heel, in the spare moments when they think about Iraq.…I saw this posting on Kos for this protest next week about the Memos and demand Congress do their job and I'm wondering what planet they're on.…This Congress is so disinterested that they wanted to change the rules for combat to restrict the role of women in an Army with no people to spare. They were more interested in making points with their fundy backers than actually supporting the Army.…To think this Congress, which is deeply and convincingly indifferent to the plight of our servicemen and women, will investigate a British memo is best defined as a pipe dream.We are now hostages of events. People will defend the war until the fuckups stare them in the face. Until some camp is overrun or an Iraqi battalion turns on US troops and ambush them, the way they have been ambushed by the resistance.…Congress abdicated their responsibility long ago. Asking for them to assume it now, before the next election, is unlikely, as sad as that may be.Because no one gives a damn. Iraq is the news, it isn't real, until tragedy enters every home like 9/11 did.Overall, as with a lot of Steve’s stuff, a simple "right on the numbers" will suffice. I do, however, disagree with two particulars.I’ll stick to rambling on about one of themIt’s not true that the Conservatives I know don’t give a damn so much as they are terrified that they were wrong.Deeply, primally terrified. Their whole psychological infrastructure is cobbled together out of half-baked conservative bumper-sticker ideology, gun lust, socially illiterate hatred of “welfare cheats” and other largely fictional or apocryphal lazy people (read: niggers and other swarthy folk) who want to leech off of them while they work harder and harder for less and less. Despite a lot of bluster about Freedom and Individuality they are, at heart, happiest when they are conforming to the wishes of the Strong Man; when they know exactly their place in the hierarchy.Security and Enforced Orderliness is their idea Heaven and Doubt is their Hell, which is why they swarm like mayflies towards simple-minded sloganeering instead of actual, y’know, thinking…and why many of them fall madly in love with Fundamentalism. It’s this anti-Faustian bargain where they get the perfect peace of mind that comes from absolute, swaggering certainty that they are completely right about every single thing. And thrown in at no extra charge, they get Paradise after they die, with the promise that they’ll get to see my sorry ass screaming in agony in a lake of fire on Basic Cable for all eternity.But in exchange for all of this wonderfulness, they have to hand over their souls to truly evil men.They must agree that they will never, ever, ever question Their Master’s Commands. To blindly obey and to never do the math and never read the fine print. In other words, to tear from their own body and slaughter of their own volition and with their own hands the one capacity that actually makes them fully human: their capacity for free and independent thought.This is the ancient, unbridgeable and eternally hostile schism between their template for humanity and ours. This is, I believe, why sometimes we fundamentally cannot understand each other; because we are running two radically different and incompatible O/S's.Out there, deep in the dark, -- they are told – are bearded madmen who worship a Death God that they cannot possibly understand who live just to kill them and their children for no rational reason. Not that there are not bad people in the world who really do need killin’, and real enemies that I want stopped, but they are sold this campfire escaped-lunatic scare-story version of the Ay-rab Terminator which, as it turns out, also happens to be the perfect outward projection of their own deeply perverse ideology.And in closer, right next door – they are told – are the Evil Liberal Elite who live to sell their great nation out into polyglot slavery to a band of international appeasers, Socialists and faggots. Who are either too stupid to see the threat, or hate their country so much that they cheer on American failure and need to be protected from themselves.Most of these people are not Nazis, but they are the perfect raw material for our own, homegrown American Rightwing Demagogues; obedient, stupid, bigoted and easily frightened.And because everything – their very souls – rest on the foundation of the infallibility of Dear Leader, they’ll happily kill anyone in any numbers who might force them to face up to the fact that Dear Leader is a duplicitous, lying sleazebag who has played on their fear and ignorance and patriotism to turn them out like $2 crack whores.Me? I’m wrong all the time. Make all kinds of mistakes and from time to time get overly attached to something that’s just plain dumb (Does listening to “Snoopy’s Christmas” back-to-back with “The New Shit” by Marilyn Manson at The Ride of the Valkyrie volume count?) And when I do, it’s hard to let go of it, but I do (mostly) and my mom taught me early on that when your wrong, you own up and say you’re sorry.Period.But I remember one woman I lived with once. A knockout brunette. Very bright. Thunder God sex. Hated Fundies but, as it turned out, for exactly the same reasons Conservative Evangelical Fudnamentalists hate Wahabi Muslims. See, she had problems. LOTS of problems, one of which was that she was congenitally unable to apologize.Ever.(insert sexy, flashback fadeout here)She was always full of very pointed advice about how everyone else should live (Funny how 12 years of strict Freudian therapy, god knows how many 12-step programs and a bookshelf full of self-help manuals will do that to a person) but could not bring herself to admit when she had fucked up.Ever.Anyway, it’s a long, sad story, but the gist of it is that one evening she was being an utter bitch about something which she had clearly done wrong. I’d finally had enough, shrugged off my Easygoing Guy togs, strapped into my Full Metal Logician armor and went after her. Just verbally backed her right up into a corner and wouldn’t let up.“Here’s what you said, and here’s what you did. You were wrong. Apologize.”“But I…”“Here’s what you said, and here’s what you did. You were wrong. Apologize.”“I really think you are the problem here, and…”“Here’s what you said, and here’s what you did. You were wrong. Apologize.”“I don’t think this attitude is very…”“Here’s what you said, and here’s what you did. You were wrong. Apologize.”And then she lost it. Completely, utterly lost it. Started shrieking like she was being knifed.“Fine! Fine! FUCK YOU! You want to Crucify me! You want my BLOOD! Fine! I’m sorry you cocksucker! There! You happy now!”As I remember it, she threw a plate – one of those patterned, Pier One oversized things that you use under a centerpiece and that humans never actually eat off of – but it was many years ago and I am as susceptible to the Dynasty-ization of memory as anyone.I do remember that she cried for an hour, went out, didn’t come back until the next day and never forgave me for it.Built in to the Right Wing DNA is the same congenital defect, and since they will happily burn the world to the ground before they admit they might actually have been wrong about Bush, it falls to us to keep them backed into a corner as best we can, because once events out here in Realityland begin to pound through the perimeter denial defenses, what comes after ain’t gonna be pretty.Not to scream blindly into the void for the impossible – Steve’s quite right about that – but to keep patiently repeating: “Here’s what you said, and here’s what you did. You were wrong. Apologize,” in every venue available.The bad news is, until they wake the fuck up, these people are slaves, and there is no one so ferocious as a brainwashed thrall defending his owner.The good news is, we are still 49% of the game; wake up and pick off a mere 100,000 and we can begin to turn a lot of thinks around. The more gooder news is that our O/S thrives best when saturated in pure, clean Reality, and theirs rust and rots and flies apart at the seams when the lies that insulate it are peeled away.The sheer weight of simple things like time and gravity and causality itself are our natural and incorruptable allies. They are merciless, and recognize no Geneva Convention niceties when meting out justice to arrant fools who try to fuck with them.Oh and the brunette?She moved to Nevada, married money and now thinks muggers and food-stamp recipients should be imprisoned for life or, mo’ better, executed. After all, she had to work hard her whole life, so why should these shiftless scumbags get any help.Yeah, really.