Sunday, September 24, 2017

In an Alternate Universe in 1938...

...the whiniest gay Catholic stoner Tory in America is floating above the English Channel on a cloud of the finest indica herb, blithely lecturing the world that while rise of German fascism was certainly a a very bad thing (from Andrew Sullivan in NYMag) ...
And so, among tribal conservatives, the Iraq War remained a taboo topic when it wasn’t still regarded as a smashing success, tax cuts were still the solution to every economic woe, free trade was all benefit and no cost, and so on. Health care was perhaps the most obvious example of this intellectual closure. Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act was immediate and total. Even though the essential contours of the policy had been honed at the Heritage Foundation, even though a Republican governor had pioneered it in Massachusetts, and even though that governor became the Republican nominee in 2012, the anathematization of it defined the GOP for seven years. 
...we all should also admit that the blunt and resolute language employed by Sir Winston Churchill to describe and oppose the threat posed by the rise of German fascism --

-- is equally fractious and unhelpful:
But we should not delude ourselves that this is all a Trump problem. What Obama could not overcome would have buried Hillary Clinton, who, almost uniquely in public life, carries the scars of our tribal era. Her campaign made no effort to persuade “deplorables,” just to condemn them, and her core strategy was not to engage those on the fence but to maximize the turnout of her demographic tribe...
Yes, Mr. Sullivan is a man in a Very High Castle indeed.  For you see, according to Mr. Sullivan -- a man so steeped in elite privilege that he literally cannot see the water in which he swims; a man who speaks with sweeping, peevish authority on the subject of a nation about which he clearly knows absolutely nothing -- the real problem is not that the Right completely lost its mind, capitulated to its darkest impulses, has made it its mission to destroy the Left at any cost and will not accept and compromise with or governance by us Leftist devils as legitimate.

No, the real problem is Tribalism, which is what inbred Beltway teacup poodles have been reduced to calling "Both Siderism" ever since President Stupid fucked up their favorite locution.
I mean two tribes whose mutual incomprehension and loathing can drown out their love of country, each of whom scans current events almost entirely to see if they advance not so much their country’s interests but their own. I mean two tribes where one contains most racial minorities and the other is disproportionately white; where one tribe lives on the coasts and in the cities and the other is scattered across a rural and exurban expanse; where one tribe holds on to traditional faith and the other is increasingly contemptuous of religion altogether; where one is viscerally nationalist and the other’s outlook is increasingly global; where each dominates a major political party; and, most dangerously, where both are growing in intensity as they move further apart...
Of course holding to this fiction forces Mr. Sullivan to lie.
As for indifference to reality, today’s Republicans cannot accept that human-produced carbon is destroying the planet, and today’s Democrats must believe that different outcomes for men and women in society are entirely a function of sexism. 
(I guess my subscription to "Today's Democrats" ran out before that issue.)

 Lie a lot.
During the Bush years, liberals inveighed ceaselessly against executive overreach; under Obama, they cheered when he used his executive authority to alter immigration laws and impose new environmental regulations by fiat.
(President Obama used executive authority because he had a country to govern and a Republican party run by reckless, seditious, racist thugs who believed that since he was a terrorist-loving Kenyan Communist Usurper, they were entirely within their rights to do everything in their power to prevent him from governing it.)

But gliding high above the Earth and reporting from a place where the depravity and predation of the American Fascist Party will never touch him, Mr. Sullivan is liberated from the cruel binary prison of truth and falsehood.   He is free to whine and blither and dither and opine on someone else's dime, retelling the Beltway its favorite bedtime story for the millionth time, so far above it all that it is no longer possible for him to distinguish between Conservative arsonists and Liberal firefighters scurrying about so tribally far below. 

Sure, there used to be a few decent Liberals, way back in the Olden Days.  Liberals who Mr. Sullivan deemed worthy because they went along with Mr. Sullivan's hokum.
This atmosphere can affect even the finest minds. I think of Ta-Nehisi Coates, the essayist and memoirist. Not long ago, he was a subtle, complicated, and beautiful writer. He could push back against his own tribe...
But they fell from Mr. Sullivan's grave by falling prey to the scourge of Tribalism.  A scourge so terrible that made them shove back hard so hard at the roots of Mr. Sullivan's favorite fairy tale --
He remains a vital voice, but in more recent years, a somewhat different one. His mood has become much gloomier. He calls the Obama presidency a “tragedy,” and describes many Trump supporters as “not so different from those same Americans who grin back at us in lynching photos.” He’s written about how watching cops and firefighters enter the smoldering World Trade Center instantly reminded him of cops mistreating blacks: They “were not human to me.” In his latest essay in the Atlantic, analyzing why Donald Trump won the last election, he dismisses any notion that economic distress might have played a role as “empty” and ignores other factors, such as Hillary Clinton’s terrible candidacy, the populist revolt against immigration that had become a potent force across the West, and the possibility that the pace of social change might have triggered a backlash among traditionalists. No, there was one meaningful explanation only: white supremacism. And those who accept, as I do, that racism was indeed a big part of the equation but also saw other factors at work were simply luxuriating in our own white privilege because we are never under “racism’s boot.
-- that it very nearly knocked his bong out of his hand.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


proverbialleadballoon said...

Remember Stewart's 'Bullshit Mountain'? This is like Bullshit Supervolcano. These motherfuckers do not stop motherfucking, they are relentless.

Ed Crotty said...

Coates is an American treasure. Willing to speak truth to power.

Davis Statton said...

So Coates is now "gloomier"? Who the hell isn't? I'm guessing that his experience with the police is somewhat different from Sullivan's.

dinthebeast said...

1 sully sullied; sullying
transitive verb
:to make soiled or tarnished :defile

-Doug in Oakland

steeve said...

If Sullivan wants to see someone push back against his own tribe, he can check out Jimmy Dore. But it's a useless thing to hope for anyway, as even conservatives will readily and easily chastise their own for the only possible sin - being insufficiently conservative.

eddie blake said...

he like, seethes with hate of clinton. it's almost surreal.

Scurra said...

My favourite part is, I think, his wounded follow-up column after someone had the effrontery to call him out on Both Siderism. (Not you, sadly, but keep it up!)
His attempt to suggest that Democrat tribalism is some sort of exclusionary crusade doesn't really work when it involves listing a whole bunch of inclusionary policies. Sure, he's probably right to say that left-ish politics has become more extreme in response to right-ish politics; his assertion that
And is there anything more extreme or tribal than calling another side’s different political positions simply “hate”?
is clearly nonsense though.

JustRuss said...

"As for indifference to reality, today’s Republicans cannot accept that human-produced carbon is destroying the planet, and today’s Democrats must believe that different outcomes for men and women in society are entirely a function of sexism."

OK, let's assume that's a true statement. The Republican position means they roadblock any attempts to curtail CO2 production, which will lead to more climate disasters and possibly the end of civilization as we know it. The Democrats' position will lead them to introduce legislation to reduce gender discrimination, which will mostly get blocked by Republicans, leading to...not much of anything? Yes, the tribalism of both sides is equally destructive.