Saturday, July 30, 2005
Red and white in blue
Tuesday, a fifty year old on a bicycle comes down off a hill into the road in front of me, swerving almost to the center line before completing his turn. I see him coming and slow down in plenty of time to save his life. Passing, I give him wide berth and forget him. At the light up the street he yells in my window: "Thanks for the war!" Ah, he has seen my "I Support President Bush and the Troops" bumper sticker. "You're welcome," I think as I watch him turn down the sidestreet, pedaling quickly in a low gear, upright like the Wicked Witch of the West. "And thank YOU for losing the Vietnam war." Just what the hell are these people so all-fired proud of?
Maybe it is comfort in numbers, or the appearance of numbers. After all, they own every newspaper and television station in the state, and in the urban centers, where they are the majority, they are quite ruthless with their power. Once in a while I'll offer a politically revealing remark to a dance partner. (I social ballroom regularly.) "Did you see that the dirtbags blew up a crowd of children in Iraq yesterday?" "Ugh. It's terrible," she answers. "Checkmate," I continue: "All the terrorists can do is make the Iraqi's hate them. Soon the Iraqis will be able to mop-up on their own, and we can move on to Iran."
Once I've outed myself, more than half the time I get a conspiratorial reply, spoken in whispers. "I have to keep my mouth shut at work," says one gal by way of agreement, her eyes flicking side to side: "They're all so liberal." I don't correct her. "They are so open with their venom," she laughs, glad to be able to voice how aghast she is, and her fear. "If I expose myself, what would they do to my career?" I have heard that conspiratorial laughter a half a dozen times now from semi-strangers. Having to hide from sissies. What else can you do but laugh?
"Peace is Patriotic" says the bumper sticker on the car ahead of me. What a dodge. Can I buy printable bumper sticker blanks? I want to print one up that says: "Appeasement is not Patriotic."
I stop at McDonald's for a "number three with two side salads please." The local franchise's attempt to add a McStarbucks on the side was a flop so they have replaced the short-lived expresso-bar with a big plasma screen TV. There is a sports team of pre-pubescent boys a couple of tables over, yelping together as a mom/chauffeur picks up their order. MSNBC is on, completely butchering the Plame investigation story. "I hate Karl Rove," I hear one of the pre-pubescents incongrously assert in a contralto voice of practiced self-assurance: "I hate everything Republican." The table murmurs.
Wow, even amongst twelve year olds the pattern has set in. The censorious left. Even their children are arrogant in their ignorance. Not hearing anyone pipe up in opposition, I ponder whether I should encourage them to talk out whether Democrats really make more sense than Republicans, but mom is returning to the table and five sets of hands are grabbing for food. There is nothing to be done. A couple of minutes later I hear a bit of music: "Are you a Republican???" the would-be censor asks incredulously. "Whatever..." comes the not-wanting-to-fight-about-it reply, and I imagine the whole table suddenly wondering where the majority really lies. Good for you youngster. Good for you.
One of the arenas of contest between left and right is between the left's near-monopoly on the mainstream media and the cracks in that monopoly created by the alternate media of talk-radio and blogs. Instapundit notes Judge Posner's Hayakean understanding of blogs, that the decentralized fact-checking of blogs taps into a far greater reservoir of expertise and factual awareness than any organization can begin to approach. But in discussing media bias, Posner misses half the story. He assumes that bias is market driven: that news slanted to the left is to cater to news consumers who want news slanted to the left.
There is some of that, but the controlling phenomenon is very different. The ideological leftists have gotten control of the mainstream media and they don't let conservatives in. They then use the quasi-monopoly power this control of the hiring process bestows to slant the news. That means conserving and spending their capital--the desire of people to consume their product--strategically, slanting the news where the ideological advantage gained has the maximum impact per amount of capital spent. If they are effective, they succeed in persuading readers to share their ideological views, which builds up their capital.
Posner also assumes that slanting is equally indulged on the left and the right, ignoring that left and right have opposite ideological positions on precisely this point. The post-modern left, the parent of the multi-culturalism that dominates the center-left, insists that there is no such thing as truth, or merit, or correct judgment, only power. Conservatives, in contrast, insist that we must trust in truth. Any intellectual dishonesty on the right is is overwhelmingly denounced by the vast majority of conservatives, while the left embraces and defends such audacious liars as Joe Wilson and Michael Moore.
What we are witnessing is a culture war between conservatives who for the most part trust in truth and trust in liberty and are trying to make sense, opposed by anti-liberal demagogues who defend their claims to be right against all reason and evidence. If accepted, claims to be right bestow power. Actually being right is not what matters to the left. That is the root of their immorality.
I will wager that when the bicyclist feared for his life after 9/11 he was not so smug. If he felt threatened again, he would be silenced--fearing to speak up should someone take that as an indication that he was eligible to serve in the common defense.
The speech that you endure is nothing more than rationalizations. It is not to be taken literally. They don't really mean what they say. The best thing would be to note the speaker and not to provide them with benefits that they have not earned.
So, no need to give such a wide berth next time--a honk would have done the trick. If co-workers spout nonsense of this sort, make a note of their lack of judgment and remember that they can't be trusted to put the common interest ahead of their own when it comes time for promotion.
It's good that these people identify themselves.