I’m not a philosopher, I’m a story-teller. Telling stories is the best I can do; if you want long-winded essays bereft of the first-person pronoun, you’re in the wrong place.
When I got my first corporate job, almost by osmosis I knew what political opinions I had to espouse: “socially liberal, fiscally conservative.” Which was annoying, because my real opinions were virtually the opposite of that: “socially conservative, economically liberal.” For a few months there, I even thought of myself as a “Christian socialist” – even though now I realize what I was really going for was an American libertarian-ish style take on the 18th Century Catholic ideal of Distributism mixed with a very conservative American notion of subsidiarity.
But I’ve always been an obedient serf because I like money so I mouthed the platitudes I was supposed to.
As recounted in a previous post, my first vote for President was for Ralph Nader of the Green Party, and it was a one-issue vote: trade policy. Pretty wonky for a 19 year old, I know, but most of the men in my family had supported Ross Perot a decade earlier for essentially the same reasons; as far as I was concerned, I was continuing the family tradition.
Then, of course, 9/11.
In post-9/11 Manhattan, I discovered Matt Taibbi from the free New York Press newspaper. Taibbi’s recent piece, The Left is Now the Right brings me right back to those days.
In the aftermath of 9/11, it was quite easy for me to fit into the cosmopolitan liberal Democratic milieu. Clearly, the enemy was the George W. Bush administration, its cheerleaders like Rush Limbaugh, and the big corporations like ClearChannel and Exxon-Mobil who were the real powers behind-the-scenes.
The problem I kept running into was whether or not the white working class religious conservatives in “fly-over” country were victims or perpetrators.
Because those white working class religious conservatives were, after all, my people and it was quite obvious that many of my Manhattan social friends most certainly did not see those people as “victims” but in fact, the hated enemy.
Over time, the difference between the two groups of Manhattanites became quite obvious. For many of my “liberal” friends, the beknighted conservatives of fly-over country were victims – not particularly sympathetic victims, but victims nevertheless. They could be mocked – quite viciously – for their ignorance, but if only they were smarter they could understand why we liberals were superior and even had their best interests at heart. The political question on everyone’s mind was What’s the Matter With Kansas?
But there was another faction of the “Manhattan liberals” that didn’t see the “fly-over conservatives” as victims, but as subhumans.
For this group, religion was fine – as long as that religion was Judaism, not Christianity. Nationalism was fine, as long as that nation was Israel and not America. War was fine, as long as those wars were against the enemies of Israel.
It was this faction that hated George Bush not because he was killing Muslims, but because he wasn’t killing enough Muslims. Yet these people were, for some reason, still considered “liberals” and somehow morally superior to the “fly-over country conservative Republicans.”
Matt Taibbi gives a good overview of some of the sentiments at the time:
the right couldn’t see or comment upon its own absurdities, and instead spent most of its time whining about being frozen out of the media at the exact moment its messaging was becoming hegemonic, e.g. when we weren’t even able to watch a football game without someone trying to shove Rush Limbaugh or Dennis Miller onscreen.
Indeed, it was quite disconcerting to read “conservatives” complain about “the liberal media” when ClearChannel was organizing mobs to burn piles of Dixie Chicks CD’s. The “liberal media” had resurrected the third-rate SNL “comedian” Dennis Miller to mock “liberals” – “liberals” meaning “anyone not supporting the nuking of Mecca and more wars for Israel.”
Dennis Miller was pro-choice, pro-gay, anti-Christian, anti-rural, and cosmopolitan, but since he was a blood-thirsty fanatic screaming for war against Israel’s Arab and Muslim enemies, he was now a “conservative” – not one of those “bad social conservatives.” No, he was “socially liberal, fiscally conservative.”
And pro-war. Secular Arab states and religious Muslims must be destroyed, because they were anti-Israel and had done 9/11.
But Taibbi gives a bit too much away when he tries to relive his glory days mocking the dumb fly-over types.
The saving grace of the right used to be that it was too stupid to rule. Politically defeated liberals secretly believed that in a moment of crisis, the country would have to be turned over to people who didn’t think hurricanes were punishment for gay sex and weren’t frightened to enter a room with a topless statue. In an effort to console such readers, reporters like me were sent to mock every Dover-style cultural stooge-fest and assigned strings of features about dunces like Michelle Bachmann, who believed energy-saving light bulbs were a “very real threat to children, disabled people, pets, senior citizens.”
“She [Michelle Bachmann] believes that the Chinese are plotting to replace the dollar bill, that light bulbs are killing our dogs and cats.”
Is Matt Taibbi really suggesting the idea that China wants to replace the US dollar as the reserve currency is some sort of “right-wing conspiracy theory?”
China is calling for a new global currency to replace the dominant dollar, showing a growing assertiveness on revamping the world economy ahead of next week’s London summit on the financial crisis.
Taibbi simply engages in snark by using the term “dollar bill” trying to imply Bachmann’s quite mainstream views on reserve currency politics are on the same level as “conspiracy theories” about “Masonic symbols” on the “dollar bill.”
What about the light-bulb snark?
It’s sadly hilarious how they twist themselves into knots. We have to be for CFL light bulbs, because global warming (and our advertisers make far better profits from them) but we have to at least acknowledge that mercury is bad. It can, in fact, be a danger to our cats and dogs – even our children!
But admitting CFL light bulbs are dangerous when broken means we have to admit that Michelle Bachmann is at least a little bit right – and we simply can’t admit that.
One is tempted to say it’s beneath Taibbi to engage in such rhetoric – but it’s not beneath him at all. He’s capable of better, he just prefers the cheap shot, likely because he knows it plays to his audience – and his audience is driven by hatred.
Taibbi’s “far-left” “progressive” critics are more right than he wants to admit: liberals like Taibbi traffick in misogyny and racism, but he’s always gotten a pass on it because his hatred is pointed in the right direction: against white women from conservative, Republican, and Christian backgrounds.
Taibbi’s partners at the time were publishing transparently false smear-pieces about Christine O’Donnell’s pubic hair and Bill O’Reilly being a closeted gay sneaking into New York gay bars.
If it sounds like something out of junior-high-school – “she is ignoring me because she secretly wants me” – it’s because it is. This truly is the level of much of the liberal/left. Just as Jewish politics is based around the fiction that Uncle Schlomo wasn’t invited to the Presbyterian golf club, so is much of socially liberal left politics based on resentment about the pretty Church girls that wouldn’t give them the time of day, and fantasies that the masculine jock was secrety gay and wanted them.
So, Matt Taibbi and his fellow travellers brought this on themselves.
They “lowered the tone.” They engaged in reckless smear-jobs against their political enemies. They threw around accusations of “racism” and “sexism” and “homophobia.” They refused to follow the Principle of Charity when engaging with their political opponents.
They demonized Christianity while making every excuse for the hateful cult of Judaism, because they knew who signed their paychecks.
Now, it’s come back to bite them.
The shrinking pool of journalism jobs has the younger, “woker” crowd realizing they can push out the old liberal dinosaurs – and using the same tactics the liberals used against their conservative enemies a decade ago will work quite nicely.
After all, Matt Taibbi is white enough to be a full-fledged white supremacist racist. He’s clearly a misogynist – just observe his decades of hateful rhetoric against women. He’s a transphobe, at least close enough to one for journalist work.
And of course he’s a full on Jew-hater, trafficking in anti-semitic tropes.
The Great Liberal Vs. Progressive Optics War of 2020 is following the same pattern as the Alt-Right Optics War of a few years ago.
The height of the Alt-Right Optics War came when Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer finally broke character and complained about the bad optics of Matt Heimbach and his “Traditional Workers Party.”
Anglin admitted it quite openly: he said for years, he was the one making fun of people online. But Heimbach’s “street theater” had changed the direction of the snark: now, the Alt Right was the subject of online snark, and Matt Heimbach, with his obese gut spilling out of his Halloween costume, complete with plastic helmet, was making Anglin a laughing-stock by association.
But Anglin’s “Hollywood Nazi” gimmick online is what led to Heimbach’s “Hollywood Nazi” gimmick out in the streets. Anglin had no one to blame but himself.
The same is now happening on the left. Taibbi’s long history of misogynist hate-speech, racist dog-whistling, and Jew-baiting is perfect fodder for the younger, woker crowd coming for his job.
The same is happening in academia, as the old-time liberals are being “cancelled” by younger, hungrier, and even more hateful and snarkier and dishonest progressives.
Hey, Matt Taibbi, are you worried your progressive allies are making you look ridiculous?
Now, everyone is laughing at you. Now, the snark is directed at you and your friends. You look ridiculous. Every time a green-haired, facially pierced obese non-binary starts screaming “black trans lives matter” everyone doubles over in laughter.
Every time an old liberal dinosaur like you gets cancelled, everyone just tweets, “learn to code.”
It really doesn’t matter if Twitter and Google ban every account that doesn’t support Joe Biden – the arc of history bends towards irreverence, and you liberals and your progressive younger siblings have always been ripe targets for parody. True, George W. Bush was the best thing that happened to you, and made your careers.
But the attempts to turn Trump into George W. Bush II didn’t work, because Trump is irreverent and so are his fans. And Trump himself hardly matters – he’s more Zionist than Bush was, after all.
Mock Christians all you want for thinking God’s wrath on homosexuality causes bad weather. Your crowd wants us to believe that saying “boys have penises, girls have vaginas” causes black transgenders to die and that showing up on time is white supremacy.
You made your bed, now lie in it – and get your nap in soon because you’re next on the Woke Chopping Block.
Oh, by the way, my gay friend told me he had a one night stand with Matt Taibbi and said he has a really small penis and terrible body odor. That’s just journalism!