Tuesday, November 07, 2006

my semi-annual political post

Last night I was at a small social gathering that included a friend of a friend whom we'll call M. I spend an hour or so conversing with him, more or less amiably. He seemed quite intelligent. Of course like many intelligent people, he seems to feel that everyone can benefit from the virtue of his intelligence, whether he knows anything about your field of expertise or not. The minute he finds out I'm a writer he started telling me how/where I should research, what kind of books I should write and how doing so would "broaden my audience." Few things are more likely to set my back up, so it's possible that my opinion of him was somewhat dimmed by the time we got around to the topic that is still on my mind today.

We had come around, somehow, to legend and archeology and Ireland, so I mentioned the Atlantis thing, and that segued into the Celtic/Druidic revival that came around in the 1890's (which is when the definitive popular versions of Robin Hood and King Arthur and the Atlantis legends were conceived--by fiction writers), which figured heavily into Hitler's Master Race concept a generation later.

So M confides to me his pet theory. He had noticed the similarity between the KKK ceremonial robes and the old Druidic ceremonial robes (Well, yes--the founders of the KKK were, in fact, Scotsmen, and I have heard that theory before, but since no one really knows anything about the Druids it's risky to make conclusive comparisons). And, he says, the southeastern part of the country is populated with whites of primarily Scots-Irish decent. (Yes, my family is from south Missouri and Arkansas, I'm aware of that). "Appalachia," I said.

"Right, right. So the Irish always thought they were the chosen people, right?" (Ok... well, according to the stuff I've been reading lately, that view was somewhat recent and romanticized..) That's where the Aryan people came from." He gave me a brief lineage of the migration of Man from the cradle of civilization through India, Greece, Europe, and into Ireland. I can neither verify nor refute it right now, so we'll move on.

"And now they're all settled in the lower part of this country. Ok, there's some Spanish and French influence, but it's mostly contained. And now you've got all these people who come from the South U.S. and think they're part of this Master race--who were the Druids? High priests of the chosen people! And who's in charge of the country right now? You see? They think it's their destiny to rule! They think they're the chosen race. And I can't wait to see them get driven out of office tomorrow."*

I nodded. "Y'know, I was with you up there til the conclusion."

He chuckled. "Well, you know I've described this theory to sociologists who think there may be something to it."

I nodded again, thinking it was the kind of logic that Harry Turtledove novels are built upon.

I could've shredded him, but what was the point? Can I even count all the random fantastical assumptions in his "theory"? We won't even delve into the mix of races that made up the population of the British Isles, in the two millennia between the disappearance of the Druids, and the immigration of the potato-famine Irish to Western shores in the 1860's. Because the bulk of them were NOT descended from Druids. Take a peak at the Wikipedia entry if you want to go into this, because I'm certainly not going to. Shaky enough to pressume that the descendents of those Scots-Irish immigrants, who settled in the hilly southeast of the U.S. 150-200 years ago, have retained enough cultural or genetic "memory," shall we say, to a) remember/care that they came from Ireland, b) retain the foggiest idea of what a Druid is, and c) maintain enough national identity to believe/care that "they"--supposing that d) there are enough of them to perpetuate a conspiracy--are destined to rule? And e) they're all--every last mother-loving one of them--Republicans?

"Now, I'm not suggesting they think they ARE Druids," M was hasty to clarify.

Well, good. Because you wouldn't want me to think you were COMPLETELY without a leg to stand on.

Honestly, this is what bugs me about politics. I started to type "radical politics" but I don't think there's any other kind anymore. Everybody who's ever given me an earful of political jingoism bases it on the same ridiculous warrants, i.e. "George Bush doesn't care about Black people." or "I think George Bush just really hates gays." Or, in the case of my ex-husband, "Liberals want us all to be atheists."

It's stupid. It's absolutist, it's projecting your own fears onto others, and it's presuming to know the mind of someone you've never even met. The COLLECTIVE mind of a PEOPLE you've never met. "If you're not one of us, then you're against us." It's offensively negative, and it accomplishes nothing.

I heard the worst, most manipulative ad ever on the radio the other day. The narrator spoke with a pronounced "black" accent. "Don't you think working families should have enough to eat? Don't you think the elderly should be able to get the medicines they need? Candidate X voted against raising minimum wage, and the drug companies give her money to protect their interests. (My paraphrasing actually makes it sound more dignified than it was.) Don't vote for Candidate X. She's a mean horrible woman who will starve your children and grind up your grandma for Soylent Green."

I'm just weary of it. These last six years have been the worst in my memory. I can't remember the last time I heard anybody pleading to "focus on the issues."

With the exception of a very few things, like abortion, nothing is an either-or issue, and certainly no side of any issue is the sole ideological property of any party. Why do I even have to say this? We ALL would like to see health care better-run and more efficient. We're ALL worried about how our children are going to make a living and who's going to care for us when we're old and decrepit. It's just plain idiot prejudice to insist that one party would take care of everything if those elitist assholes from the other party would quit lying and stealing.

And IF we assume that M is right, and the South has risen again, with their Gaelic-influenced country-western music and their Aryan noblesse oblige, all I can say is, why the hell shouldn't they? I challenge you to find me an ancient culture on this Earth that DIDN'T wholeheartedly believe they were the Master Race. The Navajo people's name for themselves is "Diné," which means, "the people." The Greeks divided the world into two categories, Greeks and "xenos." The Jews' tendency toward self-isolation has been their preservation and their destruction. Why should the Republicans and Democrats be any different?

And so what if that other group think they're better than everybody else or they're destined to rule or go to Heaven or whatever? In a two-party system, your faction wins about half the time, so what are you bitching about? You really think that your party has all the right answers and your best interests at heart and should be given free reign to "fix" everything? If you do, I'm coming over to your house to garotte you, tonight. You are a dangerous radically naive individual who is just as reckless as a suicide bomber.

You know what I think? I think that the primary virtue of a democracy is that nothing can be accomplished quickly. I hear people talking about Washington being "broken" and this country "lacking in direction," but I think standing still, politically, is the healthiest thing we can do.

The Tao Te Ching says:
The more laws and restrictions there are,
the poorer people become.
The sharper men's weapons,
the more trouble in the land.
The more ingenious and clever men are,
the more strange things happen.
The more rules and regulations,
the more thieves and robbers.

You want a radical idea? Stop voting. Stop letting them force you into making a choice you don't want, just because it's an illusion of choice. Millions of Americans have already done it. It's the only ethical thing to do, because it's the only way to avoid forcing your will on someone else.

Or if you're the type who likes to be proactive, go work for some group that advocates less legislature and smaller government. Find a cash-only doctor. Save an emergency medical fund, instead of paying premiums you'll never see again. Get out of debt and work for cash. Raise your own produce and fertilize it with your own compost. Live in a house made of straw bales, for all I care.

Just don't talk to me about it. Your indignation, frankly, is beneath me.

*in the elections today, Nov 7.


Anonymous said...

I had hoped that AJ would respond to this first, then I would put in my tuppence worth.

I heard of a fellow who built a house of straw. A wolf destroyed the structure and ate the occupant.

On a more serious note-one of my sources places the probable site of Atlantis in what is now Denmark and southern Sweden. The book is "The Celts" by Gerhard Helm. The argument is plausible. Completely convincing??? No. It doesn't try to be.

Should you rush out to obtain and read this book cover to cover? I know better than to tell you any such thing.

Your friend of a friend M appears to fall into the same category as AJ's IDC's in that he strings assumption upon non sequitur assumption to bolster his "theory." He seems not to know Occam's razor from Adam's off ox. I would rank his "theory" as no more than an hypothesis, one which doesn't bear up under scrutiny as you so adequately have pointed out.

It's not a comfortable predicament to be in, when you know enough about a subject to be aware that your fellow conversationalist is full of horse apples way up over the eyeballs, but you don't quite know enough to teach the other the error of his ways, and it isn't worth your time and trouble to learn enough to do that either. Ya got other fish to fry.

"Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
from "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann

Holly said...

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.