Things are changing. The Israelis, who have for forty years here been able to pretend they were innocent David while fighting like an unprincipled Goliath, have finally revealed themselves to be following the insight of David Ben-Gurion in 1948: “We have taken their country … We must do everything to ensure they never return … We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.” *
The Israelis, as I have mentioned several times, deployed the Joseph Goebbels propaganda playbook to cloak their game-plan with the miasm of victimhood (did Hitler ever attack any country that was not, in some form, ‘attacking’ his beloved Volk, even if only by existing?).
The Israeli-Goebbels playbook was adopted by the Identities here in just about that same time frame, starting in the late-60s. Each was a ‘victim’ of something, each was just speaking up for itself (although, as equally unspoken as the Ben-Gurion insight, was the utter conviction of each ‘revolution’ that it would ‘do whatever it takes’ and ‘by all means necessary’ to secure the agenda it sought; and as with the Israelis, the quiet presumption was that each agenda was meant to ‘end’ an ‘outrage’ so utterly outrageous that nothing, not even the established procedures of a democratic polity, could be allowed to stand in the way of ‘victory’).
In the ‘Boston Globe’ for February 2, 2009, two major harbingers appear. On the front page, the education superintendent is trying to reduce school ‘busing’. Turns out that it’s too expensive for the small number of students who are actually on this or that bus.
The ‘Globe’ considers the matter at some length, and with some actual effort to look at the thing objectively. Unmentioned – and no doubt the paper hopes that there aren’t than many folks able to remember back that far any more – is the fact that ‘school busing’, like sex-offenses and the highly dubious ‘priest-sex-abuse scandals’, was a favorite ‘cause’ that the paper ‘advocated’ back in the day, which in the matter of the school busing plan was 35 years ago.
Things, apparently , have not worked out as originally imagined by those who demanded that the agenda be fulfilled without delay. (It’s not jejeune to repeat here: Can you say ‘Iraq’?) According to the plan – or more properly ‘dream’ – busing would be a short-term operation designed to give inner-city youth a shot at ‘decent’ schools until, it was presumed as a given, the inner-city schools themselves would be brought up to par.
Objections and doubts were raised immediately: neighborhoods would suffer, as would their communities, if children were bused ‘out’ for school. The children themselves, required to take long bus trips in a metro area famous for its unpredictable and heavy traffic patterns, would have to get up very early in the morning to make their journey – day after day, impairing their focus and concentration. (Educational curricula, it was presumed, would remain solid; the desire to learn would either remain solid or the inner-city children would ‘learn’ it from students at ‘better’ schools.)
The objections were dismissed as ‘racism’. The media went along with that. Boston’s tight-knit neighborhoods erupted in demonstrations; the neighborhood sense, reinforced by ethnic and sometimes tribal energy, and not free of racial motivation, burned hot, the less-lovely motivations mixed with a hardly inaccurate awareness of the possible – hardly improbable – negative consequences.
As has happened more times than Our media would care to note, the ‘dream’ – erected into public policy with no useful public deliberation, by ‘elites’ who did ‘get it’ and thus considered themselves in a better position to ‘know’ – has not worked out as originally imagined. Much the opposite.
And it’s been the little people who have suffered, the black inner-city communities even more than the white neighborhoods, the students even more than the adults. As so often happens with this sort of thing.
The operative dynamics of Identity Politics – the antidemocratic ‘revolutionary’ method, supported by the Goebbels propaganda plan, ‘justified’ by the ‘emergency’ of ‘outrage’ and the insistence that the most fundamental ‘rights’ were involved – dispensed with all the necessary workings of democracy and grabbed for the ‘dream’.
But of course – and this will be a dynamic operative at all levels of national political activity, and in foreign affairs as well as domestic – the government, led by the Democrats but then joined by the Republicans over the course of decades, has been instrumental in embracing and then pandering-to Identity Politics; how now then acknowledge that the thing has been a failure? A colossal frak-up?
Iraq. The Economy. The school-busing. The hydra-headed demands of the Second Wave Feminist steamroller, among which the institutions of Marriage and the Family are only the largest blast-zones. Hell, the ‘homeless’, created at the stroke of a pen in the later ‘70s by state governments eager to be given both ‘scientific’ and ‘sensitive’ cover to shed the expense of maintaining secure, long-term mental health facilities (though the Brits had tried it and found it catastrophic and disastrous as early as 1961).
Policy-by-‘dream’, policy-by-‘outrage’, policy-by-macho-gut, policy-by-‘sensitivity’, policy-without-serious-thought … this is a hell of a bad habit We’ve gotten into over the past 40 years. The mistakes, the damage, the blood, the ruined lives and destroyed lives … all those consequences will have to be paid for.
And if We are trying to live-by-bubble, not just fiscally but in terms of how We grasp and comprehend Our lives and the world around Us, then We have truly brought a knife to the proverbial gunfight, and with a mighty dull blade.
A ‘vision’ is a marvelous thing: the human capacity to imagine a better situation is a powerful engine of genuine progress. A ‘dream’ (with all respect to Martin Luther King, who figured rightly that ‘dream’ was more rhetorically rhythmic than ‘vision’) is a much less mature and efficacious affair. They don’t call them ‘daydreams’ for nothing; and they don’t not-call them ‘day-visions’ for nothing. And Teddy Kennedy’s braying about ‘the dream’ at the Democratic Convention last year is an unmistakable marker of what’s gone wrong with Us. And with Our politics. And with Our polity.
And the sibling of ‘daydream’ is ‘nightmare’. And that’s something that should be getting more obvious now.
Meanwhile, in the same issue of the ‘Boston Globe’, the Letters to the Editor continue commentary on a recent (January 25th) column about the mistakes in the abortion agenda (and, of course, policy). A constitutional law professor observes that Warren Burger towards the end of his tenure on the Court realized – and so stated – that he had to “regretfully conclude that some of the concerns of the dissenting justices in ‘Roe’ … have now been realized.” He wanted the Court to “re-examine” ‘Roe’.
From his lips to God’s ear – and perhaps he is now in a position to help things along in that regard. Once again, it’s the little people who have had their lives consigned to hell – women who have been told that it is indeed possible to ‘have it all’: be a single mother, hold a great job, and raise marvelous and correct kids … not hardly. And the inner-city ‘family’ the most shattered of all.
The state’s executive director of Naral Pro-Choice rebuts by not addressing the issue, but rather pointing to … other things: the “profoundly personal nature of decisions about pregnancy and parenthood”. Which they are – most profoundly involved with the person. But “interpersonal” rather than “personal”. One makes one’s decisions about children with one’s spouse, with whom one has entered into a commitment (admittedly hard to do if you’ve subscribed to the Friedan-ian equation of ‘men’ and ‘husbands’ as Nazis and the ‘home’ and the ‘family’ as “Dachau”).
I can’t see how We can blithely accept “unintended pregnancy”; We don’t simply accept a police officer’s blithe assertion that the discharge of his service weapon into a suspect with fatal effect was “unintended”. We expect a certain amount of responsible deliberation from somebody so equipped as to terminate life. Nor do We accept that in an ‘emergency’ there’s no time for ‘thinking’. The entire damned idea of a ‘professional’ is that this is an individual endowed with responsibility in critical situations, and who has prepared for that by making the appropriate ‘thought’ second-nature.
The pilots of that plane that put down in the Hudson not long ago had a most serious and urgent emergency on their hands. They responded as they had trained long years to respond: mastering their emotions, assessing the situation, and carefully but quickly taking the necessary steps.
And if anybody wants to say that the ‘average’ person isn’t ‘supposed to’ be that ‘together’, then We have truly and frakkingly lost the spirit of civilization and of maturity. Every human being – male and female – is ‘equipped’, ‘armed' if you wish, with the power of life and death, especially over new life. There was a time even in America when this was so conventional a bit of wisdom as to be considered beneath serious discussion. Apparently, We need to go back to school in this regard. (Them Kathliks, now, them Kathliks been yapping about this sorta thing for years and years – they just ‘don’t get it’.)
But the executive director goes on to spill some serious beans. She quotes Sandra Day O’Connor (who, it may be recalled, voted for ‘Bush v. Gore’ because she didn’t want to leave the choice of her successor “to a Democrat”): “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their own reproductive lives.”
Coupla thoughts, and I’m not even going to go near ‘Bush v. Gore’.
If such ‘participation’ as the former-Justice and the executive director imply includes the current condition of the family; the current condition of the nation’s youth – especially in the inner cities but not limited thereto; the current condition of national political discourse and the efficacy of Our politics; the current condition of untold numbers of single working mothers and overworked parental pairs … well, then the former Justice and the executive director, I would say, have scored a hat-trick: dream, day-dream, and nightmare.
Is one’s “reproductive life”, male or female, really so totally one’s personal own to control? When the capacity to very hugely ‘impact’ a third life so lethally is involved? Is there something else that should be in the equation here? A refusal to be contained, to be Shaped, to be Trellised – this is the Second Wave’s ‘liberation’? It’s a liberation as fatuous and fatal as the ‘liberation’ that We imposed upon the survivors of Our invasion of Iraq.
But most significantly: I question this “equally”. No, not in the way you might think I’m going with this. All human beings are created equal – absolutely; but they are not created “identical”. Nor has Nature – if you wish – ‘evolved’ them identically.
On this same day, the City’s Fire Department is again on the hot-seat yet again. The front-line pieces of apparatus are turning up with defective brakes; this is due to a cutesy game whereby for decades (in an increasingly unmanageable politics, not irrelevantly) the Mayor allowed the firefighter’s union to place union members – not mechanics – in the Department repair shop, in exchange for union support in the elections.
Last month a heavy ladder truck lost its brakes on a steep hill, rolled down the hill, through a main intersection with a busy trolley line as well as vehicular traffic, and into the first floor of a building where kids were in an education class; it’s your guess as to what would have happened had the truck hit a crowded trolley rather than going across to ram into the building. A fire officer was killed outright, but he was the only casualty. Now, an urgent alert to check all brakes on all units has created a shortage of reserve apparatus to replace engines and ladder-trucks sent to the Repair Shop. When an engine (its job is to pump water, which is why it’s equipped with a pump) was taken out of service for possible brake trouble this past Friday, there was no spare engine to send out to replace it in its busy station. The brass sent out a modified Department pick-up that has emergency lights and siren and is painted red but otherwise has little equipment, and has no pump. What, an oncoming shift’s fire officer asked, am I supposed to do with this?
The point is that ladder trucks and engines are equally valued units of the Department. But they are not identical. One has been designed for the task of pumping water, and one has been designed for the task of carrying and deploying a heavy, tall aerial extension ladder.
Readers with some savvy might point out that there is a tendency among some departments to buy what is called a ‘quint’, a truck with both the heavy extension ladder and the pump. But the trouble starts there. The pump engine’s job is to go to the nearest hydrant, that may be half a block and more away, in order to connect to it, suck water into its pump, and then propel the water back up the hose line to the nozzle held by firemen at the actual site of the fire. The ladder’s job is to go straight to the fire-building, anchor itself with huge jacks, and raise that mighty ladder for rescue and other purposes.
Both tasks are essential, but no one truck can do them both simultaneously. The aerial truck cannot waste time hunting for a hydrant, nor – once its jacks are deployed and the ladder raised – can it be moved. The pump-engine has to be near the hydrant for best effect, and it should not under normal circumstances remain directly alongside the burning building, where it would block the aerial’s access. And the ‘quint’ crew cannot simultaneously raise the ladder and effect rescues and also go find a working hydrant, carry hose from the immobilized apparatus to the hydrant, and then start the less efficient flow of water that the pump now has to pull back up the street to itself before it can propel it into a hose-line that nobody is around to hold.
And if the pump in a ‘quint’ needs to go out for repair, you lose the ladder too. And vice-versa. So you can’t be a one-piece department.
You see the problems.
It’s well within the range of possibility that if a person reports a fire and summons the Fire Department, and gets the pick-up, then there will be grounds for a law-suit, since the City sent help that was really no help at all; no matter how good the intentions or how great the willpower, a pick-up cannot be a powerful pump engine.
“Equal” does not equal “identical”. Nature, if not also God, sort of set it up that way. It is this ‘nature’ or this ‘God’ that the grim revolutionaries of the Second Wave have been seeking to overcome for lo these past 40 (Biblical) years. It’s still an open question as to precisely what are the actual shapes of that ‘difference’, that lack of ‘identicality’, but there can be no doubt that evolution does not go to such trouble as assigning the fundamental and crucial task of child-bearing to one sex without also specially equipping that sex specially for its task; while assigning other tasks – and so equipping it – to the other sex. This natural division cannot be blamed on ‘men’ or ‘patriarchy’ without implying that they have the divine power to make that original division in the species. And to ‘command’ Nature, to legislate as if to command it, puts Us back to the level of King Canute and the tides, which cannot be called ‘progress’ at all.
So whether or not one has ‘choice’ is really a valid question at all … is a rather big question itself. Meanwhile, it has to be acknowledged that the vanguard elites of this ‘revolution’ have been sending their less elite sistern into a situation where they are actually ignoring ‘the tides’ … much as a certain Leader sent millions of hapless troops into the wastes of the Russian steppe as if Winter were not able to, or would not dare to, resist the inevitable will of the Thousand-Year Reich. Ach. Oy.
As with so many other ‘reforms’ and ‘dreams’, it is now going to be a big question whether the ‘elites’ and the government can acknowledge ‘problems’ now at all, since to do so would inevitably raise the question as to how such self-assertingly competent elites and governing types got Us into this mess in the first place, and kept it going for so long.
So what happened all this time? The Democrats got onto the crest of a good wave with the first phase of the civil-rights movement, which culminated in the Voting Rights legislation of that first week of July, 1965. That lasted for all of a week, and then the Watts riots brought the whole thing to a crashing, and for the Democrats stunning and terrifying, halt. Nor did the unexpected nastiness of the second phase, Black Power and black separatism, help. The Black ‘establishment’, as it was developing, sensed this and realized that in order to keep things moving it would need to ‘lobby’ just like any other ‘interest group’.
The Dems tried to put the best possible face on things, realizing that it would now be impossible to distance themselves from what had become of that glowing first-phase civil rights era. But they also quietly realized that even if everything worked out well with ‘the blacks’, they still constituted only 10% or less of the population. A much larger demographic would be required to replace the constituencies lost in the first – and increasingly in the second – phase, the Southern and then the Northern urban white folks.
The Second Wave, having made something of a splash with Friedan’s “Dachau” gambit, were available, and ‘women’ were a much larger potential constituency. And the Dems put all their influence behind the Second Wave and all its pomps and all its works. I’d say that the remarkable ‘progress’ made by that Identity was presumed by many to be due to the ‘value’ of its ideas and demands – how else, the average person of the era might wonder, could such remarkable, if not indeed counterintuitive, change take hold in the government so quickly? But of course, nobody would imagine at the time that the Dems were desperate for votes and were willing to sign off on anything the Second Wave pushed their way.
And in those same later ‘60s, the Israelis decided that it was time to make a major push for American public opinion and took Goebbels’ brilliantly comprehensive and manipulative propaganda plan for their bible (sorry). The ‘high ground’ of the ‘victim’, pure and innocent, whose ‘rights’ are beyond question and beyond doubt … that ‘narrative’ and the ruthless ensuring that no other ‘narrative’ would be permitted to exist in the public discourse, is the strategy deployed against American public opinion and discourse.
Both the black and the Second Wave ‘elites’, now emerging, realize a useful tool when they see it and adopt the strategy themselves. The black advocacy builds the second-phase revolution upon the added American element of ‘civil rights’. So does the Second Wave, eventually adding the freighted American term “equality” (while allowing no definition of it except for their own).
This is not so difficult, as the media discover that ‘advocacy’ gives them a chance to ‘shape’ rather than simply ‘report’ national events. And as the Goebbelsian PR strategy starts to produce media-friendly and telegenic ‘scenes’, the media quickly slide into complicity. Perhaps only now is that starting to change.
Nor did it harm the cause to give 18-year-olds the vote, adolescents whose strong suits were emotion and enthusiasm and idealism, not careful thought and the weighing of experience.
As I’ve said before, by 2001 Rove and the Bushist Imperium found a citizenry now sufficiently weakened and en-bubbled, that they were quite used to having ‘the’ story simply presented to them for their appropriate response. There was no sustained kicking of the tires as the march to preventive war took shape and gathered speed. And what kicking there was, the media chose not to notice.
And the financial bubbles had provided a greasy, dizzy simulacrum of a successful and productive national economy, and if the citizenry were no longer used to kicking tires, they were even less disposed to look the shiny-coated horse of ‘good times’ in the mouth.
And here We are.
But there are changes in the wind.
I support the enhanced public ability to assess and deliberate wisely, and to require such activity of their politicians and the ‘elites’ who batten on the public trough. Or who seek to change the entire shape of the Constitutional ethos.
But I think We are all well-advised to adopt the wisdom of Tolkien in his ‘The Lord of the Rings’: times are changing, and great effort must be expended, and if all works well – a long shot – then a better time can be expected. But there will be irretrievable losses to the world, losses incurred by the very success of the challenges to be met. Things would never be the same, even as a new level of goodness may be achieved. For Us, the postwar position of both domestic and international primacy, is now so far gone as to be beyond recall. Current generations of youth will not enjoy the advantages, nor the education, that their grandparents or even their parents enjoyed.
But to be able to learn how to face reality, to remain committed to one’s best self, to be yourself-in-the-present … these are large and deep skills, lessons not to be provided in any university or curriculum. It is a capability for which Americans have never been generally known, though the ever-surprising Lincoln provides a clarion example. It is the side of human-ness that the New World dispensed with, in its urgency to master the this-worldly dimension.
It is time to write a new chapter in the history of the New World. That is the rendezvous Our present generations have with destiny. That is the fierce urgency of now.
· Quoted by Stephen J. Lendman in his Post ‘Al Nakba Redux’, Jan. 21, 2009, on his website here.