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Works and Days

A Rather Angry America

August 7th, 2010 - 1:49 pm

History Is Negotiable

We sent our first delegation to the services marking the bombing of Hiroshima. Fine, but will we do the same with the Philippines, Manchuria, South Korea, and all the other places where the Imperial Japanese Army by early 1945 was killing on average well over 5,000 a day in its occupied co-prosperity sphere? To understand why Hiroshima, understand 50,000 American casualties, 100,000 Japanese dead, and 100,000 Okinawan dead at the conclusion of Okinawa ten weeks earlier, and then multiply it by a factor of 10 for the upcoming Japanese homeland invasion.

The Rising

At home, a huge mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan will rise up before the new World Trade Center (maybe Bruce Springsteen can do a sequel to “The Rising”?). To suggest this is bad taste is bigoted. To suggest that we don’t know the where, how, and why about the funding, or why a self-proclaimed ecumenical group of Muslims wants to build ties by picking this provocative spot, or who exactly is behind the idea (or where exactly the promoter now is) is the worst sort of Neanderthal right prejudice.

No problem. We can assure the 3,000 dead that their passing was marked by the enlightened harmony of a mosque preempting a new tower. What we do know is that in about a year, all over the Middle East, al-Qaeda videos will have photo-shopped “strong horse” posters and CDs of the ruins of 9/11 in the shadow of a towering mosque, with the accustomed boilerplate about how Atta et al. knocked down the looming towers in order to have Islam’s shrine rise up in their place. It all sort of reminds one of the nasty reception the president’s envoy on Islamic outreach just got from a Muslim audience in India. He was “shocked” at his reception — or translated into Valley Girl parlance: “Like, I can’t believe this is happening to me.”

I don’t think the polls quite capture the present public anger, which in not abating. Everything seems to channel into a general furor: Michelle’s movable feast from Costa del Sol to Martha’s Vineyard; the president suing Arizona and counting on a judge to nullify the public will, as part of a larger effort either by judicial nod or administrative fiat to get amnesty for 15 million future voters who will reciprocate at the polls; politicians bragging about handing out another $100 billion of someone else’s money here, another $200 billion there; the constant assumption that popular expression is retarded, and those who go to a tea party rally, vote to enforce immigration law, want to see marriage as it has been for millennia, want to cut federal spending, or are tired of identity politics are Palinesque clingers.

The Best and the Brightest

The common denominator? If one were to survey the elite campuses around 1975 and talk to those in law school, poly sci, or the humanities, then imagine them 35 years later as our elite leaders in government, the media, the universities, the foundations, and the arts, one could pretty much expect what we now have.

The present symptoms that characterize both our popular culture and current governance — shrill self-righteousness; abstract communalism juxtaposed with concrete pursuit of the aristocratic good life; race/class/gender cosmic sermonizing with private school and Ivy league for the kids; crass and tasteless public expression; a serial inability to take responsibility for one’s actions; the bipartisan mega-deficits; the inability to cut pensions and social security for the baby boomers — from the trivial to the fundamental, all derive from a bankrupt cohort that came of age in the sixties and seventies.

We see the arrested adolescence and hypocrisy that come from that sermonizing generation, whether in Al Franken’s puerile face-making, the ideologically driven suicide at Newsweek, the steady destruction of the New York Times, John Kerry’s tax-avoiding yacht, the Great Gatsby Clinton wedding, Michelle on the Costa del Sol, Nancy Pelosi’s jet, Tim Geithner’s tax skipping, or the constant race-card playing of a Charles Rangel and Maxine Waters. Yes, one walk across the Yale or Stanford campus circa 1975, and one could see pretty clearly what sort of culture that bunch would create when it came of age and was handed power. If that is reductionism, so be it.

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