Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Jobbing Her Again

One of the most hilarious comments on the resignation of Amanda from the Edwards campaign is that of inordinately self-inflated pimple Matthew Yglesias, who seems to be quite serious when he writes:
Indeed, that's why think I wouldn't take a job even with a candidate I was super-enthusiastic about -- I like to speak (and blog) my mind in a way that's not conducive to being on the staff of a presidential campaign.
Similarly, I would like to announce in advance that I would not welcome anyone's nominating me for the Nobel Prize for Literature, only because that would cause heightened expectations of the seriousness of my work, therefore disappointing readers when I penned my next silly political parody.

Contrary to Matthew's protesting-too-much, the brain-deadening task of wading through the pompous pablum he produces would be so intimidating, to even the Concentration Camp Lady, that he would be almost an ideal campaign blogger, safe from retroactive scrutiny. In the unlikely event he ever took a solid stand that wasn't generally held by the masses in criticizing anyone, it would probably be either meaninglessly personal or an attack on the left. For example, in that same piece about Amanda, he adds:
How is it that the Edwards campaign didn't manage to say in advance that people were going to have to stop blogging if they want to work on the campaign? Similarly, based on their own reaction to the controversy it appears that nobody at the campaign decided to vet Marcotte before they hired her?
The "grammar" of that second sentence is either one more example of how overrated are Harvard degrees, or an example of how to display "uptalk". More to the point, it accepts the premise of Donohue and other critics, which was also accepted by Edwards in his "no, they're not fired; go and sin no more" statement. What you write -- or say, or do -- before or outside of the campaign is okay to criticize the campaign for. Hogwash.

Once more, the more-or-less-not-as-far-unleft will be held to a standard of total blamelessness and inhuman perfection in their lives, by foul-mouthed dishonest bigoted scumbags like many well-known examples leading the charge against Amanda and Melissa. Matthew, along with Edwards himself, and a host of other Democrats, are unilaterally disarming themselves before this. By their comments (Matthew's here, and Edwards in his previous statement) they are even doing the work of the rightwingnuts for them, by criticizing things that should be out of bounds to begin with. If Cheney can say questions about his grandchild are out of line (and he was right about that one), then why can't we do likewise?

As for the final spark causing Amanda leaving, Matthew offers the suggestion, first noticed perhaps at Blue Mass Group, that it was her writing a review, after she went to work for the campaign, of a movie called Children of Men. Since I love works of deep moral conflict, her review makes me think I'll enjoy this. Unfortunately, she included some gasoline for the cross already burning on her lawn:
The title loudly proclaims the movie to be about the Children of Men (very patriarchal sounding), but the one child in the movie is born to a woman who is dismissive of the idea that the identity of the father is even relevant. And it makes sense, actually, that if there hadn’t been a baby born on earth for an entire generation, the paramount importance of paternity would fade away and the obvious fact that maternity is more time-consuming and immediate would become undeniable. The Christian version of the virgin birth is generally interpreted as super-patriarchal, where god is viewed as so powerful he can impregnate without befouling himself by touching a woman, and women are nothing but vessels. But this movie offers an alternative interpretation of the virgin birth—one where “virginity” is irrelevant and one where a woman’s stake in motherhood is fully respected for the sacrifice and hard work that it is.
It was that sentence in boldface above that caused cafeteria Catholic Donohue to have another verbal seizure (no link, it's at the site of his "group"):
Anyone who actually believes that the birth of Jesus by the Virgin Mary is ‘generally interpreted’ as being a sexist exercise obviously lives in an anti-Christian ghetto. The 85 percent of Americans who are Christian do not believe this, and most of the other 15 percent do not either.
I'm sure he's right, in the same sense that most people don't think about earth life as possibly planted by microbes on rocks knocked off of Mars by meteor impacts there. It has never occured to them to even wonder about the possibility. In both cases, their lack of thought devoted to the issue is irrelevant to its truth or falsity.

Most Americans probably unthinkingly parrot many other things they had drilled into them in school, like how the United States is the exception to history, making few mistakes and rectifying them when pointed out, and in short, that this is the absolutely bestest nation there absolutely ever was. This proposition, not being subject to falsification, is held to all the more tightly by many people who therefore think of themselves as patriots, and regard anyone who criticizes our government or its role in history as evil traitors. Donohue is merely spinning out the denominational version of this widespread technique of promoting your own collective faux self-esteem by condemnation of any iconoclasts out there in touch with a different interpretation of the truth. See the experience of the Dixie Chicks for another example.

By not standing up to deny the very premises from which the attack is made, we implicitly accept them for the purpose of public discourse. Once that concession is made, the game is all but over. Only distracting personal scandals (Delay on money, Foley on sex, or whatever) will make it possible for us to win. The unknowing audience, unfamiliar with logic or research, hears one side being certain and pointing to why (usually a sacred text). They hear the other side saying "we don't think we really did anything as bad as they say, at least not intentionally, but we're not saying what they accuse us of wouldn't be an awful thing, if we had done it, and we sure aren't challenging any sacred cows, which we really are fond of". Frightened by a campaign of terrorizing through the media, they lean to the side which seems sure about what it is doing.

Matthew, and Edwards, are not the first ones to cluelessly toss women or men over the side of the U.S.S. Poltical Driftboat. They still don't get the lesson that such tactics never win unless by accident. Compromise with the forces of repression, even by implicit acceptance of their rhetoric, is like compromise with poison. Nothing good will come of this.


Oh, and by the way, taking an idea originally from an old blacklistee (Howard Fast, whose best work was really not this novel and movie, but The American), and following the lead of driftglass and Blue Gal, there is this, which you might consider emulating if you have a site of your own:

I'm Spartacus.


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