Wednesday, May 28, 2003

EEEEWWWW!!! There are, apparently, people someone is referring to as Hipublicans. According to the link (or, rather, the thing to which the link leads) there is an article in the New York Times Magazine (did Jayson Blair ever write for that?) about young fascists on campus trying to be hip. I've not seen the actual article, but my first instinct is that it is based on a rather small sample of people taken from what is a rather small "movement".

By the way, in Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant Masacree", how many people did he say it would take before "they" would call "it" a movement?

My second instinct is "of course there are such people." After all, the Rick Santorums of the world didn't just spring fully-formed from the mind of Richard Mellon Scaife: say what you will about the governmental feather of the right wing in the US, but you can't say they didn't get edumacated somewhere at some point.

The article seems to have focused entirely on students at rather expensive private schools. The blogger to whom I linked takes the article to task for that, and rightly so. But there is bad news for the blogger (perhaps he knows this): there are LOADS of conservative students at public institutions ranging from the lowliest junior college to the loftiest heights of Berkleydom.

And why not? US culture (particularly middle and upper-middle class white culture) is VERY conservative on most political issues (death penalty, labor rights, minority rights, sexual freedoms, foreign policy issues, etc. [Don't say "but what about concern for the environment? Surely our students' concern for the environment is cause for some joy!" It is, but you shouldn't forget that tree hugging has not always been monopolized by the left: read up on the Nazis, for a start.]) and has been (except for a brief, and perhaps illusory, interlude during the 1970s) for a long, long, long time.

[aside: I just heard 5 gunshots. Or was it 6? Do I feel lucky?]

My point is this: the right wing has 2 main weapons: surprise, fear, and a, NO! 3 main weapons! surprise, fear, and a ruthless dedication to an ideology.

In no particular order: it has been amply demonstrated, over the past 20 years at least, that the Hipublican Party has a fair amount of political discipline (Carlton just recently blogged his thoughts on this). The party has a message and it sticks to it and, whenever it can, it makes the word into flesh. The movement behind the Hipublicans makes great hay of the fear it arouses among the Hipocrats (see what I just did there? Clever, eh?) and uses the reaction to make the reactors seem, well, reactionary ("shrill" is a favorite word used to describe critics of the right).

The first (NO! third!) main weapon is surprise: right-wing movments all over the world (or conservatives, or reactionaries, or fascists, or whatever) have often if not always used a variation of "we few, we happy few, are all who stand between the many them and the spiritual/ethical/economic/religious/political/national/racial oblivion they so desire for us." This siege mentality, I imagine, keeps one warm at night and does wonders for furthering ideological discipline (certain commies used to be all about cadres for a similar reason). This seeming paranoia surprises many people on the near or genuine left, and they then underestimate the right as kooky. They should not.

See also "fear", by the way, which was the second main weapon. The Big Brother types in Orwell's 1984 clearly understood that if you keep people off balance with the threat of imminent death (or various sorts of oblivion), they will look for leadership and eagerly follow.

What we have is a situation not unlike what I describe below. Your average rightwinger can wake up in the morning in a US where presidents he supports have run the most powerful country on earth (in history?) for 30 of the past 50 years (and JFK, LBJ, JC, and El BJ spent a good portion of their terms in office in mortal fear of being perceived as too "left" on a host of issues), where local, state, and federal government march to Sousa more often than not, where religion has the most prominent role in public life of any industrialized society, and where taxes on private and corporate income and property ownership are low by world standards and getting lower, and he can scratch his pits, eat his grits, and consider how dreadfully under-represented HIS point of view is. And he can do it with the utmost sincerity.

He can also read the bloody-minded, status-quo oriented New York Times and scoff at how liberal it is (without even bothering to consider how it could possibly be that the London Times would be down-right bolshie by his standards), watch Fox News and internalize how fair and balanced it is, and support the Guantanamo Bay internment camp while marvelling at the view from atop his city upon a hill. He can enjoy an impossibly fresh (and impossibly cheap) grapefruit, if grits don't turn him on (and if grits don't turn YOU on, brothers and sisters, then you really need to get that fixed), while muttering at how awful it is that Mexican immigrants seem determined to take "our" jobs. He can rail against big government handouts to the urban poor (who really should just get a fucking job before the Mexicans snatch them all away), while going off to work at General Electric or Boeing or what's left of WorldCom.

At some point during the day he might communicate with his son (or, if he is really into doublethink, his daughter) who has, during four years of college (at a big-government funded school, even if it is private) had ONE class with ONE teacher who seems to be a bit left of center and has brought a counter narrative into the classroom. "The last straw!" he thinks "now they are corrupting the youth!" Good job little Matthew (or Stephanie) has found a few like-minded kids on campus and that they have had a chance to *actually meet* Alan Keyes (whose life story just goes to show you that you can't let anyone hold you back just because you are a member of a minority. A guy like him? I'd have HIM over for dinner!).

I could go on and on and on, but the more I think about it, the less I want to buy a plane ticket. And no plane ticket means no chance to see my parents this summer and no chance to prove to one of Scott's readers that I do NOT idly suggest driving (anything, anywhere, anytime, for any reason, unless public transport just plain makes more sense). I am a trucker in an alternate universe, you see. I am the trucker who searches the truck stop jukeboxes for Midnight Oil. I am a legend.

I found the thing that set me off on my ramble, by the way, at Tom Tomorrow's website.

I heard, while I blogged, the following (other than the gunshots, which were totally real) -- Glenn Miller Orchestra "Tuxedo Junction" (named after a place 1 mile from where I was born); The Who "Underture"; Talking Heads "Wild Wild Life"; Fred Astaire "I Concentrate on You"; and Billy Joel "She's Right on Time".


Post a Comment

<< Home