A Mind That Suits
What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.
Sunday, January 09, 2011 :::
A Mind That Suits has been pondering a return to blogging for some time, and has a number of posts plotted out and ready for that masterful touch which his reader has come to expect.
But yesterday's tragic events in Arizona, and the all-too-predictable reactions to it, demand some instant commentary.
The first comment is to express one's outrage at the shooting and support for the victims and their families.
But some writers, who should know better, skipped that part and went after what they thought was "the real story."
A Mind That Suits has for many years depended on the website of the once mighty Washington Post for breaking news. In this, he has not been disappointed, as The Post did indeed strike a balance between serious news and the cheesiness (cheeseyness?) that grabs readers.
One had to take the rough with the smooth, as always. During some tragedy--he thinks Katrina, though the mind numbs with information overload these days--the Post actually ran a headline that said, "Women, children affected most," apparently unaware of the hoariest of all journalistic parodies.
The Post has fallen on hard times. Most charitably, it can described as floundering in its search for an online voice. But old habits die hard: A Mind That Suits still turns to the Post for breaking news, and the Post keeps giving parodists fodder.
Thus the initial coverage of the alleged shooter fell into an all too predictable pattern: the shooter may have been a veteran, and he had antagonistic feelings toward the US government.
It turns out that he described himself as an enlistee, but the Army had turned him down because he was self-evidently nuts. Plus, his favorite authors are those hardy perennials of violent, totalitarian socialism, Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler, the very antithesis of the ideas the Tea Partiers advocate, which mainly involve limited government, clear regulation, respect for private property, and protection of contracts. There is a very good rundown of the lowdown on the shooter over at the Weekly Standard website. Click here.
Concerning the Post's first prejudice--the belief that our veterans are so damaged that they should be pitied rather than honored--there is not enough scorn or contempt in the world to do it justice. It is merely the pleasant face of the belief that the only people who would go into military service are idiots, sadists, or both. 'Nuff said.
The second prejudice was first implied and then flatly stated this morning, but now has disappeared into the archive of the washingtonpostonline--hidden away, no doubt, because of what we now know. The prejudice: if you say the government is scary, you must belong to the Tea Party, which is really scary.
UPDATE: The Post in fact simply shifted the prejudice to their editorial pages. To resume the original post...
Where to start?
No one in the mainstream Right, or even anywhere near the fetid estuaries of extremism, ever held up signs wishing any Democrat dead, the way many in the left routinely held up posters wishing death to George W. Bush.
In the attacks on Congressional offices--few in any any year, and hardly an epidemic last year--the one attack that was clearly tied to the healthcare vote and came within days of Obamacare's passage was on the office of...
Eric Cantor, and you know how the Tea Party hates him. (A note on nuts and Congressional offices follows.)
Moreoever, the alleged shooter applauded a video of someone burning an American flag.
Now, unless an exception escapted the attention of A Mind That Suits, in the very, very small world of the truly Far Right, the scandal is held to be that the government is falling short of the ideals represented by the flag. Burning the flag would be an un likely form of protest for this tiny tribe.
In other words, it's mainly folks on the left--and not that far left--who smile when they see Old Glory alight, or at least get that stern frown that says they "would never do it themselves but fully understood what would drive others to."
Moreover, Americans who sport that knowing frown also have a tendency to say that George W. Bush was never "their" president, call opponents of Barack Obama "racist," refer to a decent and informed respect for the Constitution a "fetish," praise Hugo Chavez for shipping our poor people free oil whil starving his own poor people, refuse to call Reagan Airport by its proper name, sew Canadian flags on their backpacks for their Eurrail tour through a dying continent where "people know how to live," and pay twice as much for an Egg McMuffin because it was made of "artisanal bread" and sold at Starbucks.
There are many such Americans, and A Mind That Suits is proud to call many of them his friends. Granted, he thinks of many of them as his "deliberately annoying" friends, but friends nonetheless. He is hard enough to live with, so cuts others a lot of slack if they are otherwise fun to be around.
He does not, however, expect any of them to turn violent.
They turn red in the face if he says things like, "I think Obamacare is a disaster" or "Grover Norquist is actually a pretty smart guy."
But they don't turn violent.
All of which means, of course, that the Post was, in its initial coverage of the tragedy yesterday, displaying ill-informed prejudice. (There is informed prejudice, but that is a discussion for another day. Just a clue here: it would not say political opponents caused an assasination attempt with their rhetoric.)
It would be nice if the Post stopped, but consider what happened at former sister publication Newsweek: when news wouldn't keep it afloat, they dedicated it entirely to venting prejudice, a tactic which worked so well the magazine got sold.
For a dollar.,
Three final thoughts:
First, concerning the "rash" of violence against Congressional Offices. Each representative will, beginning next term, represent something around 710,000 souls. Consider the people in your circle who are a little off, and it is easy to estimate that fully 1000 people in each congressional district will be dangerously squishy in the head. Around the time that Eric Cantor's office got shot, A Mind That Suits made that very point with someone who had worked in a very far leftwing congressional office, and he agreed fully.
You have to work in a congressional office to understand, but that is just the way it is.
Further, anyone nuts enough to threaten a representative and bring the law down upon their heads will probably be agitated by whatever is in the news. They use trends to get the press's attention.
It shows up most in letters. Almost alone among members of Congress in history, the ineffable Bob Dole faced the issue squarely, in his response to what are sometimes called "STUN" letters. (That's backwards for "nuts.") "Dear Sir," he would write, "you should know that someone is sending absolutely ridiculous letters using your name."
It should be no surprise that Mr. Dole was never elected president, but the "take away" here is that, given the number of guns in our society, it's surprising there aren't more such attacks.
Before gun enthusiasts flood A Mind That Suits with protests, remember that one of the reasons that life expectancy in the US is lower than it is in Europe is gun violence, which leads us to our second point.
The Post website briefly ran a story on how Arizona has among the most lenient gun laws in the country. Actually, they aren't lenient. The patriot-in-his-own-mind who showed up in full commando regalia when President Obama visited Arizona was in fact scrupulously abiding by all the regulations imposed by that state on gun handling. Aside from scrupulously abiding by Arizona's gun laws, the man was also scrupulously abiding by Secret Service directives to be nowhere near the President.
What the Post meant by "lenient" was "they actually let people have guns."
The question is: why does the Left think that restrictive gun laws will do anything to hinder a man who plans to shoot someone? Or even doesn't plan to shoot someone, but does so in a rage? Most gun crime is committed in states where gun ownership is restricted. Which has, per capita, more violence, Wyoming or the District of Columbia? A Mind That Suits says that as someone who has a visceral dislike for guns.
Little thought here: life expectancy lines are beginning to cross as Europe has become flooded with strictly illegal guns. Societal collapse in Eastern Europe has fed the illicit gun trade. Eastern Europe collapsed because of the consequences of nearly a century of totalitarian socialism, and Western Europe does not allow gun ownership (except, as always, Switzerlan, but go look at a map.)
Think about Europe and guns for a minute.
And finally, A Mind That Suits, whose passive Italian is nearly fluent, get his broadcast news from RAI, the Italian government news agency. The two main stories over the last two weeks have been Brazil's refusal to extradite a terrorist, and the attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt.
A headline about a mysterious letter saying that someone was in one port and "ho paura" (I am afraid) led A Mind That Suits to think that they were talking about another terrorist. However, it turns out to be a little girl who was abducted several weeks ago. He has been watching the news for a couple of weeks, and this is the first time he focused on the news.
In other words, in Italy, the land that gave us the word "paparazzi," there was no endless coverage of the story when there was nothing to report. And one prays that the next report will be that she has been rescued.
But isn't it amazing that the Italians could give us lessons on de-sensationalizing our news coverage?
Which could start with the websites of our once-great papers waiting two minutes before blaming the Tea Party for a senseless act of violence.
::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 3:28 PM