Belmont Club

Almost True

It was a French writer who observed that what is essential is invisible to the eye. That didn’t mean you couldn’t see it. But you needed to know how to look. Take Becky Bond, a prominent liberal activist who has Allen West in her sights. She’s going to bring him down and here’s how she explains it.

The danger, as Bond sees it, is that if West’s brand of politics catches on nationwide, American politics may shift rightward.

“And he’s a freshman,” Bond said. “If we don’t take him down now, he’s raising millions of dollars, and he’s going to set what the new normal is for the Republican Party.”

Bond bragged that her group is harassing West (“bird dogging him at every attempt,” in her words) in order to waste his campaign’s resources. “We’re getting to [West and Tea Party-backed congressmen] at every level.”

It is not hyperbole to say that liberals loathe the solidly conservative first-term congressman with the fire of a thousand suns. Credo SuperPAC [the superpac bond heads] calls West “racist, sexist, anti-science, hypocritical and downright crazy.”

What about the words “black and Republican”? Did anybody mention black and Republican? Not Becky Bond, even though those words capture almost everything about what she is most trying to prevent.

What is essential is invisible to the eye.

But it’s not just the liberals. Consider a group of G20 protesters who are suing the Toronto police for targeting them because they had “hairy legs”. “Charney said Toronto police unfairly profiled his clients, and arrested them because they appeared to be protesters based on their clothing and physical features, which included women with hairy legs.”

“That profile included markers such as people who have backpacks, lawyers’ numbers on their arms, people with Quebec licence plates, people speaking French, people wearing black clothing.

“My clients fit into that profile, to some extent. And that is why they were arrested, and that is why many people were arrested during the G20.”

Each side — the Toronto police — and the G20 protesters are speaking in their own peculiar code. The cops weren’t going after the lawyer’s hirsute clients for hygienic or aesthetic reasons reasons any more than Bond is going after Allen West because he’s “racist, sexist, anti-science, hypocritical and downright crazy” — why, that could describe Louis Farrakhan. The cops were going after the girls because they had the signature appearance of radical protesters. And the lawyer’s going after the cops because he knows that the police must preserve the myth that they don’t profile.

The most forbidden act in modern public life is to be caught in the possession of a decryption pad. To understand actual intent is a greater crime than going along with a lie. No one can challenge Becky Bond’s motives. No one can impugn the patriotism and lawfulness of the G20 protesters and no one should doubt for a moment that the Toronto police don’t profile.

Sometimes someone doesn’t get the word. For example, the State Department advances the line that it may be possible to win the hearts and minds of Islamist rebels by supporting them against local tyrants — like Assad, who no one — except the State Department, ever doubted for a moment was a tyrant. In March, 2011 Hillary Rodham Clinton in March said something so spectacularly wrongheaded — so astounding that the Washington Post highlighted it in an article titled “Hillary Clinton’s uncredible statement on Syria”

“There’s a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.”  –Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, on “Face the Nation,” March 27, 2011

What the Washington Post forgets is the iron rule that you must never be caught in possession of the decoding pad. The conventional lie is always better than the actual truth. Fortunately the Syrian rebels have not forgotten the first rule of Middle Eastern politics — “it’s always America’s fault”. The rebels, bless their souls have not the sophistication to lie in the approved manner. The Christian Science Monitor reports on what the rebels are saying.

The US has stepped up its rhetoric against President Assad and is providing covert support to rebels. But for many fighting the Assad regime, it is not enough …

The US is an arch-foe of the Syrian regime. US officials have stated plainly and repeatedly that Assad “must” go. And President Barack Obama earlier this year signed a secret order authorizing clandestine aid to rebel forces, it was reported today.

But in the rebel-held enclave of Salaheddin, guerrilla gunmen and ordinary Syrians alike wonder why the US has not acted to stop the killing by at least ending the Syrian Army’s artillery bombardment and imposing a no-fly zone on the helicopters and planes that menace them from the skies.

“We all believe the US and all Western countries want Assad to stay in power,” says the coordinator for the Revolutionary Council in Aleppo, who gave his name as Abu Thaier.

“I believe that Syrian intelligence up to this moment is cooperating with the CIA,” the wizened revolutionary told the Monitor. “The Westerners are afraid of the destiny of Israel; this is what stops them. Assad takes advantage of that, and says, ‘These terrorists [rebels] will go to Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan and we must crush them.’… Western countries gave up on the Syrian people because they believe most demonstrators are Islamists,” he says.

The solution to being caught out of course, is to cover it up with another lie. “Maybe if America threw Israel to the dogs then it would mollify Islamists to the degree that ‘peace will be possible'”. It’s uncertain how many actually believe this — probably not the Syrian rebels — but woe unto the public figure who actually says that no amount of concession by Israel will ever be enough to dissuade those bent on destroying it from trying.

Some problems are just too difficult to easily solve. The problem of being Black and Republican; the problem of being Christian and selling chicken. The problem of being American or Jewish and being alive.

The problems of the world arise less from the defects in its accidents than in the irreconcilability of its essentials. The reason there are no flying elephants isn’t simply that their ears aren’t big enough or their limbs aren’t aerodynamically faired. The problem is that elephants are land animals. This means that workable solutions often require more fundamental fixes than can be achieved by incremental adjustments.  Elephants won’t fly unless you load them on a C-17.

The supposed “fix” that is publicly pursued is most often a McGuffin, something to distract our attention. The real message, if you want to decode it, is “we’re not going to fix a damn thing. We’re just going to charge you to kick the can down the road and pretend surprise when we find a few steps later.”  Just now Kofi Annan resigned in frustration at lack of UN security council backing for peace mission in Syria.  He must have been the last man on earth to know he was mortuary make-up on a corpse.

Communication in the modern political world is all about getting or sending a message you either pretend not to have received or even to have sent. In the latest installment of the Chick-fil-A saga the Los Angeles Times  reports that gay activists are going to hold “kiss-ins” at the restaurant outlets, the better to emphasize how families are “being hurt by the company’s political and social activism against gays and lesbians”.

“We are encouraging those of us who support LGBT rights and LGBT equality to show up at their local Chick-fil-A tomorrow and kiss someone of the same sex,” said Carly McGehee, a New York-based political activist who started the idea for the kiss-in.

Gee, and here I was thinking that the point of the kiss-ins was to drive family business away from the fast food outlet.  Tell me, do you have the decoder?

The world will keep going on that basis until one day everyone gets tired of the charade and pulls out the cheat sheet they’ve had all along. We most all of us know the truth, or can at least make a guess: the problem is facing it.

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