Saturday, July 20, 2013

Another orphan

It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan

Call it Outrage on Demand.  I wrote a while back about how the emotions and passions of American public remind me of  a marionette made to dance; made to laugh, cry, rage and mourn as strings are pulled by the various puppeteers, corporate, religious and political.  Some seemed to agree, but I'm not sure that many will admit to being just another wooden character in the great Punch and Judy show of America.

I used to blame Republicans for acting like dogs being sicced on selected targets, inflamed by slanted accounts of various incidents real or fabricated, to serve the political objectives of off-stage players.  Of late I think it describes us all: addicted to outrage, unable to advocate a cause without an outrage, and I'm increasingly alienated by the increasingly transparent performances of  Oz-like string pullers and drum beaters who in turn are increasingly desperate and increasingly careless.

It's easy to blame the media for the endless series of  outrages they trump up and package to command our obsessive attention, but we who watch, we who bark like dogs when told to, and demand that something be done or undone or punished or set free as the voices behind various curtains direct -- we who are addicted to following those voices because it makes us feel important, intelligent, worthy, are really to blame for the failure of  enlightenment, the fracking of progress and the increasing subjugation of the people.

It used to be easy for me to identify with the 'Left' when the right was openly advocating oppression, segregation, suppression of free speech and the like.  I became a 'lefty' when you could have your life ruined for being suspected or falsely accused of private political opinions, when conservatives could tell you where you could live, who you could marry, what you could do on Sunday, what you could and couldn't read, when they could restrict what you could work at, how much you could be paid, what public and private facilities you could use based on stereotype and prejudice and  religious belief and superstition.

It was easy to loath the party who supported Nixon, promoted him, lied for him and maintained ludicrous fictions about his words for decades after he skulked out of office rather than be removed.  It's been easy to feel disgust at their attempts to unseat Clinton and it's still easy to laugh at the claims of Communism, the promises that his tax policies would bankrupt us and his 'spending' was ruinous.  The stench of Republican hypocrisy was never more apparent than when they subsequently supported the ruinous spending, the reckless deregulation under Bush II.  The abandonment of government responsibility and massive escalation of  peremptory executive power all of  which actually was ruinous.  The Party that has resumed trashing the Executive with  unsupported theory, laughable fictions, vague, substance-free objections is no more worthy of  respect or support than it has been in half a century, but is that enough to make me a Democrat any more?

Is it enough to distract me from the troubling observation that the Democrats have also been the party that supports, perhaps eagerly supports silly regulations and prohibitions for their own sake, because 'our side' is touting it?  Are we as doctrinaire and unwilling to temper enthusiasm for obeying idiocies from national speed limits to regulations on how big a paper cup you can drink from?  Have we, and I'm still saying "we" for the moment, begun to paste together racial incidents from various events so that we can pretend it's still the 1960's when we had a clear mission?  Are we so obsessed with safety and security that we can justify anything "as long as one life is saved?"  Are we selling fear and ignoring fact, denying the abject failure of what we have sold as a panacea and refusing to change things that don't work or make things worse? After all, we're the party that signed off on that knife in the heart of liberty obscenity the Patriot Act, the party that seems to support the idea that unwarranted searches, universal surveillance, random investigation, hidden cameras, wiretaps and the reading of mail are a justifiable price for safety.  Incarceration without charges, secret trials and all the trappings of  totalitarianism all because "freedom isn't free."

The misrepresentation of  the George Zimmerman case by desperate, old-guard Democrats like Al Sharpton, with his long record of inventing racial incidents apparently forgotten, may have been some sort of last straw for me.  No I don't think the shooting was justified, but the case is black and white only in an ethnic sense. It has nothing to do with a law the overturning of  which is the real objective.  I want nothing to do with people who don't recognize that, who have no intention of reading the law or thinking about its implications to this case.  I'm tired of people who steadfastly misrepresent facts and law if they conflict with doctrine, who see racism everywhere, crazed, machine gun toting murderers everwhere, like the John Birchers see Communism and the Christian Right sees the devil.  I'm reminded of those who supported the horror in Vietnam because they missed WWII.

"Murder has now been legalized in half the states,”

 says Ladd Everitt, spokesman for the Washington (D.C.)-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.  Of course that's as wild and wooly and dishonest as the "abortion is murder" shibboleth.  Are we no longer the party of  liberation but the party of  bans, controls and worse, the party of the same old fictions, the same old failed solutions,  fanatically held? How does it compare to hyperbolic falsehoods we've been getting from the other side all these decades?  Are we as sold on the idea that extremism in defense of virtue is no vice as Spiro the crook Agnew?  Are middle of the road, pragmatic Democrats anywhere in sight?

The sordid events in Sanford do not mirror the murder of Medgar Evers or Dr. King or the civil rights workers in 1964 Mississippi. They have nothing to do with racism on the streets or in the courts.  They do not represent a return to Jim Crow and if  Democrats can't seem to live without an endless supply of  convenient but inapposite outrages; if  the Democrats can't find any way to promote progress toward freedom and justice for all without witch hunts and race baiting, lies and fabrications and misrepresentations, media circuses and fear mongering, then I'm an alien to both parties.

It was easy to appear to be on the side of the angels when we had the Commander Guy, the Old Ranger and Tricky Dick to be compared to, but after two consecutive presidential victories; after gaining some ground on the devil, it's time to ask ourselves if we haven't become, or at least come to more closely resemble what we've been fighting -- or have we been that way all along?

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