Belmont Club

That Fearful Symmetry

Jaime Fuller of the Washington Post explains why none of the major broadcast networks are covering the speech where president Obama is scheduled to announce amnesty for up to 5 million illegals.  “ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS knew that their customers would not be happy if the President ate into time reserved for some of the most popular shows on television, including “The Big Bang Theory” and “Bones.” (Editor’s Note: If I wasn’t watching Obama’s speech, I’d be watching “The This Old House Hour.”)”

It would be possible to respond symmetrically; to respond to lawbreaking in kind. But to do that would rip the whole fabric of law to pieces. Short of that, the most effective response to Obama’s to what some commentators have characterized as an act of lawlessness is to snub it deliberately.  The non-coverage by the networks, though perhaps accidental, is a start. It’s almost as if some people had independently come to the conclusion attributed to Eamon de Valera. Pondering the problem of Irish independence he says (in the movie Michael Collins at least) that “we must act as if the Republic is a fact. We defeat the British Empire by ignoring it”.

Bob Corker of Tennessee argues that Obama desperately wants to be noticed.

“This president is not acting in strength, he is acting in weakness. Unless lightning strikes, it will be the worst presidency in modern history.

“There has to be a response, no question. But it has to be a response that enables us to continue to move our nation ahead, remembering that this president will be gone in two years. He’s incredibly weak, and candidly, he is doing these things because he doesn’t have the ability to lead and is not willing to put the effort out to do the work to actually cause things to pass in Congress.”

The danger to being content with this conclusion is passivity.  What the Valera ‘quote’ failed to emphasize, is that in order to “ignore” someone effectively you do so obviously.  Ignoring someone has no effect unless you do it insultingly. The act of overtly and publicly ignoring a person is called ‘scorn’.

Scorn works best when the person to be ignored provides an object of scorn. That way there is something to overtly ignore. One of the most famous historical examples of a scorn-objecct was Gessler’s Hat.

In the foundation-legend of the Swiss confederacy, Alberect Gessler was a cruel and tyrannical overlord installed by the Austrians, who installed his hat atop a pole in the public marketplace and decreed that all should bow to it … to his hat, not merely his person. Such a declaration was, I think, a way of rubbing in his authority over the common citizens – indeed, rubbing their noses in the fact that he could make them do so, and do so in front of everyone else.

Ignoring Gessler’s hat got William Tell into trouble because it is the nature of Gesslers that they cannot afford to be ignored. They need to be noticed.  The problem facing conservative organizers is to find that Gessler’s Hat as a starting point.

Active scorn is a prudent and need one say, a legal alternative. Because the laws neither enforce nor defend themselves themselves without men, a conscious lawbreaker necessarily dares everyone else to follow him into a fearful symmetry. The time honored pause before getting out of the car and responding to the fistfight challenge of someone who wants to be noticed has been to laugh long and hard at the tinpot leader first.

In a way Obama is daring his opponents to join him in trashing the republic. He thinks that’s “historic”. One response is to “act as if the Republic is a fact; to defeat the Obama by watching ‘The This Old House Hour.'”, even though it may be less entertaining.

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