Tuesday, August 16, 2016

'Black Lives Matter' Doesn't Matter?

Yes....someday I will just quit talking to people.  My teeth will be much the better for it.  Beer, while pleasant, may not be a good long term solution.  Maybe ranting is better....


It's repulsive to have to repeat it, but..."any group of people has their assholes."  This is a back-assed way of implying an unfortunately well-abused logical fallacy.  A general class cannot be characterized by an instance of that class...no matter how loud and obnoxious and inflammatory that instance might be.

Which could be said about the Nazis, right?  But that's where the thinking, reading, man can earn his money.  Look at the historical context, the aims, the acts, the means a movement employs to further its professed goals.  Read behind the lines; do the results and the side effects have any relationship to the program?  Look at the long term good and bad!

All of which obscures the smaller, or larger, issue.  Exactly what benefits are our oppressed brothers supposed to be enjoying; or, more realistically, what were they promised, if we agree that they are a member of the class of 'all men'?  What are they being left out of?  What are they missing?

The 'assholes' might retort, caustically:  "Nothing.  Nothing we want from you, anyway."  But surely, if the American Experiment means or once meant anything, it was that our radical version of democracy was supposed to promote (not ensure, certainly not guarantee) a more just, a more civil, a more benign Big Brother.

And the Founding Fathers intended that this idealistic jihad would put a large burden on the citizen..every rational man/woman/hyphen-American has as "obligation to tolerance", a duty to think first and judge later.

To wait for the facts to come in.  For the results to be final.  To be the last person to jump to conclusions.  To detect and ignore the influence of the assholes.  To cut through the facade of rhetoric and respired gibberish to the meat of the honest concern.  To respect the force and inertia of a people's historical experience.

Which is hard.  We are going to bleed.  We are going to hear the sticks and the stones.  We are going to swallow our bile, our frustrated anger at the existence of idiots and loudmouths, whose existence and verbal flatulence obscures the real message and the real issues.

Perhaps the Fathers expected too much of us, or of humanity; should it have taken 150+ years to decide that our not-quite-white cousins are human beings, and acknowledge that 'all men' includes them?  Should we be surprised that they are slightly pissed, and vastly distrustful of us, considering the record of our individual and institutional past behavior, the machinery of which a few of our assholes persist in trying to popularize and revive?

It is NEVER time to stop bitching.  Our distrust in government and the status quo is not an aberration of recent ignorance or stupidity or perversity, but an ingrained attitude of the original charter of our country.  The Constitution, in fact, promised us very little, only that it considered the individual liberties of its citizens its first and greatest concern, if far from its only one.  While this sounds like a license to chaos, They didn't expect us not to exercise our common sense or ignore the facts of nature or hypocritically ignore the intent while pursuing the fruits of liberty.

So whither civil disobedience?  I am not going to trot out statistics and references at this point, but it can be easily demonstrated that peaceful civil disobedience is one of the best ways of effecting social progress; we owe many of the protections and comforts of our present existence to such 'outside the box' efforts.

Nothing ruins the prestige of an action more quickly than avowed chaos and thoughtless and inflammatory public utterance; and nothing lends one more credit than blind and reactionary police oppression, knee-jerk brown-people-bombing, and 'I told about those people' bigotry.

IN our current situation, where our plurality can or has already been purchased by reactionary forces, the usual chain of command is almost useless.  Civil disobedience may be the only way of undoing the erosion of the American social contract, whatever that may be at this late date.

When AIM made the plight of Native Americans impossible to ignore, when Dr. King captivated the world with his eloquence on behalf of its less-well-heard fraction, and now, when Black Lives Matter illuminates the pervasive and continuing existence of institutional bigotry and the tolerance of same...we should use every mental resource, every strand of emotional resilience, every impulse toward common decency, that our Founding Fathers expected us to possess and cultivate.  We were tasked to separate the wheat from the chaff; to do our very best, as citizens, to finally build the kind of society we fought to conceive for ourselves.  To break the cycle of adherence to the oppressive oligarchic systems of Europe that we so despised, way back when.

And yet, here we are...well on our way to creating our own Empire.  Do we want it?

History for Hillbillies

Here in Parochial Paradise, reading books, at least worthwhile ones, is a dependable way to endanger your sanity. There you were, snoozing happily in your puddle of beer, and some loudmouth starts polluting the air with a verbo­fecal ventilation fiasco that just didn't quite seem...*well thought out*, at least in your humble opinion. Just for the sake of argument, let's assume that blissful ignorance is not, for you, a worthwhile attainment. So, willy­nilly, you've got some work ahead of you.

You wedge the silly twit's gibberish through a Google search box. After eliminating vitamin supplements, recipes, coupons, and porn, you appear to have a subject of study. You read the Wikipedia article (sideways). You read the bibliographies. You build a reading list. You fantasize about murdering your noisy neighbors and/or family in their sleep.

Finally you've rammed enough facts into your head. You may even delude yourself that, as a result of that effort, you might finally be able answer the question that started the whole goddam thing. Neurosis sets in as soon as you are dumb enough to open your mouth, when you discover that no one else even understands why your subject is (was? might be?) important, or even what it is. They certainly do NOT care what your opinion of it is, although they feel qualified to advance their own.

A surreal revulsion for critical thought sets in: you are vaguely aware that people shouldn't think those awful things, the country shouldn't run this way, the world doesn't WORK like that...and yet it everything bumbles along, day after day, ass­backwards and oblivious. The very nature of chaos seems to ensure that history won't even repeat itself, since how do you know where you are in the cycle in the first place? A universal state of what George Carlin used to call 'vu ja de': the feeling that none of this has ever happened before.


A few weeks ago, during one of my regular attempts to kill off a few more over­useful brain cells, all of this once again came home to me.  We were talking about the War(s). You know the one(s).

"Cuz, afterall, ya­know dude, the President has messed the whole thing(s) up. We should been out long ago."

I sprayed a bit of my Hef on the bar, then dug in to refute, thus: “Huh?”

Not the best start. Maybe I should spit more of this stuff out, and drink less of it, right off the bat, aye? In any case....

“Um...yes, we probably should have been out of th..those places, long ago. Why is the President specifically to blame, here?”

“Well, he promised to...”

“Yeah, he probably promised to try, at least, I'll concede that, but he didn't start this mess, he was stuck cleaning it up. Let's put this in playground perspective...do you think it's easier to break something, or to fix it?”

“What the hell does that mean?”


"When a war is started, my friend, certain forces of human stupidity are deployed:  there exist, in the real world, such things as: compulsive jingoism; compulsive apathy; the partisan echo chamber; political limitations; diplomatic inertia; commitments to allies; commitments to reparation (collateral damage); legal constraints; investment bias; bureaucratic inefficiency; conflicting mandates; emergent issues...blah­di­blah­di....Winding down a war, particularly a [expletive deleted] like this one, is not as simple as starting it...”

“Well, it just shoulda ended when he said it would...”

“...and only naughty boys get mad and take their toys away before others have a chance to finish the game...I believe former President Gas Station Attendant wasn't exactly clairvoyant about that kinda thing hisself...”

“At least HE got Saddam, though!”

“And? So? Did we discover where he was hiding all those terrorist cells and WMD's while he was squatting in his cave? Did I get my cookie? Our current CIC 'got' Bin Laden, right? In schoolyard terms, I'd say we're even there, huh? Sure you want to stick with that answer?”

“Your cookie...­?...b­but Saddam was a bad man....urrrr....”

“...that we put into power in the first place, along with the Saudis, and Diem, and Mobutu, and Guzman, and Somoza, and Pinochet, and Noriega...are you saying that, as a country, we have a special responsibility to depose, preferentially of course, the Bad Men we bankrolled originally?
Is it okay to ignore OTHER Bad Men, who we may or many not be responsible for? Are we a little teapot, perhaps, that has boiled dry on the campstove of....”

“Uhh, okay, okay...damn, we need another beer don't we...where is that book on the Battle of Leyte Gulf you were gonna loan me...”