... the emotion in which the literalist passion is grounded. Hatred--of all complexities; of anything that can't be reduced to the simplicity of absolute dogmas and the need to impose that hatred upon the world in a totalizing way. It is sometimes alleged that fundamentalists are just like the rest of us, confused by the world and seeking something to hang onto as a portal in the storm. This view is invalidated by the nature of the answers that the fundamentalist finds: answers that annihilate the problem, turn the desire for knowledge into a farce, and make of confusion the motive for self-infantalization.[reprinted at Counterpunch].
What seems so bizarre about the political news of the last several days is how swiftly and deftly the Republican spinmasters and their allies have twisted and turned just about everything upside down. O'Reilly, among others, has gone after all those mean and nasty Librul folks on the internet who "shock" and amaze him with the depth of their "hatred" for all things good and great and wonderful. Meanwhile, the anti-war protestors trying to be heard outside the Republican Convention are branded as "anarchists" and tossed into jail. And finally, she-who-will-not-be-named, who is being painted as the teenage victim of, not the political campaign strategists and the right wing religionists, but of those who would dare find fault with not her, but her mother.
This is not new, this Rovian world of doublespeak. But when oh when will people ever be able to talk about issues, disagree, without the incessant need of some to paint their opponents as evil, hate-filled, enemies to be vanquished at all costs?
The desire for knowledge and reason is being twisted into farce, day by day. How many people are watching as many speeches as possible at the conventions, reading, and thinking about the complex issues of war, the economy, the environment, and our relations with people throughout the world? Where is the give-and-take? Why is to disagree or even question forged into an accusation of hate or grounds for seething resentment?
Meanwhile, what about the hurricanes, Dolly and Gustav already, the others possibly yet to come? We did not get the uncut movie version of disaster that we saw during in the early days after Katrina. But the potential for an even greater disaster was there before our eyes and ears if we paid close attention to the complex engineering and weather information that trickled through the media.
The problem is not simply how to survive these disasters but how to deal with the damage they bring. Three years after Katrina and the court decisions are still grinding out at a slow pace, for the most part, the courts just doing their part to make sense of a nonsensical system in which flood damage is insured (generally underinsured) by the government and wind is covered by private insurance -- if and only if one can find the insurance and pay the premiums for both flood and private property insurance -- and no one yet quite knows who pays for what, if anything, if a combination of wind and water cause damage. There are sound underwriting reasons for this, but the government and the businessworld have had several years now to consider a more rational system of insurance or other kind of economic support for repairs and rebuilding, with little to show for it in terms of actual plans or programs. Add to the insurance question the complex ones about where and how to rebuild, even if money is available to to do so. How and when should government assist in building, require more expensive but stronger construction, rebuild infrastructure, and provide assistance and emergency services when disasters do occur?
These are just a few of the many, many issues our politicians should be talking about, among themselves, with experts, and, most of all, to and with us. But these are considered too dull, too complex, and not good for sound bites and media manipulation. The politics of hate and fear sell much more easily. So, instead of breathing a sigh of relief and giving prayers of thanks that the New Orleans levees held fast this time -- and working harder to rebuild and strengthen those that need work and barely made it -- instead of sober and hard talk, sharp disagreements and rethinking of where we go next, the circus goes on and on.
I don't know about you, but I am so, so tired of this. Chicago, 1968. I thought we'd do better by now. It just never ends. I am very weary of it all.