Monday, September 7, 2009

What Do Wails of Terror Teach Us?

During this brief pause between screaming right-wing freakouts -- the next one is always only minutes away -- I think it's worthwhile to compare the volume and intensity of the last freakout with the reality that inspired it. For the sake of any who have chanced upon this post a few freakouts down the row, I speak of the uproar over President Obama's address to the USA's schools in September 2009, the transcript of which reveals the like of which made the invention of the term boilerplate necessary:

Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals. And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country. The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
I search the text in vain for the terrifying personal loyalty oaths to Obama or whatever the hell else was inflaming such passionate fear and loathing.

President Obama is too kind to say the following, but I'm not. If you are genuinely troubled at the prospect of the US president -- this US president or any other -- delivering this speech to school kids or anyone else, then you, as distinct from this country, are worth giving up on. You should go ahead and face that something important within you -- call it soul, call it mind, call it common sense, call it judgment, call it functional moral sense, call it what you will -- is already dead. That being so, please retire to a hole with your guns, canned foods, bottled water, generators, holy fables, DVDs of 24 and The 700 Club, and whatever other comforts you've stored up, and await the death of whatever remains alive in you. No one will come looking for you, and you will not be missed. If President Obama's speech brings you to dark thoughts of fascist takeover, please go with that thought and find a redoubt where you will never again have to reconcile with reality, or vice-versa. Farewell, goodbye, and good riddance.

Those of us who choose to remain outside the holes and continue our engagement with reality should consider the contrast between this freakout and the bland pabulum that caused it, and attenuate our acceptance of the next several freakouts accordingly. Adjust your sets.

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