Wednesday, June 24, 2009

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT SPEECHIFIES AT WELLESLEY COLLEGE

DO WHAT I SAY

Now comes Madeleine Albright in this season of commencement speech bloviation and doth commence to commend: "I don't want to say women necessarily make better diplomats than men … But in a lot of ways we do have advantages. Diplomacy is about being able to put yourself into someone else's shoes, to be able to empathize, figure out their perspective. At the risk of making a gross generalization, women are often much better at that."

Ah yes. This is “off” the Sotomayor and Obama “empathy” thread, as NYPD Blue lingo might put it. (Andy Sipowicz as President? I’m just askin’ …) This is a classic example of Beltway copycatting and Beltway surfing as well as the ‘migration of concepts’ I have been talking about in recent Posts.

You may recall the Sotomayor fluffery: a ‘woman’ might be better on the Supreme Court because she uses ‘empathy’ and not just reason to decide matters of grave import. I Posted specifically about this on June 8th in this blog in the Post "Empathy". I said that I see no problem with a female on the Court but I have reservations about a ‘woman’ being on the Court because in Our modern American reality ‘woman’ means somebody indentured to, or a card-carrying member of, the ideological-radical feminist fringe or core (take your pick) of feminism who is expected by her cadre-sistern to do things for “us” (and by that “us” they most surely do not mean the American people or their common-weal).

Which puts this whole thing in the Women-from-Venus/Men-from Mars thread that has been bethumping Us lo these past forty years: Men are violent and rational whereas women are nonviolent and empathetic. Which, if it were an aircraft, I would certainly not want to fly in such a dubious design.

And the upshot of it all is that men are simply too unsuitable to really run things, whereas ‘women’* – long oppressed, repressed, and depressed – are the key to a strife-less, war-less, poverty-less world of peace and love (you know, what the Hippies and Flower Children expected would suddenly pop up to the surfaceof Life and History just as soon as they dethroned ‘the Establishment’ and/or smoked and screwed themselves – if not the entire world – into a groovy utopia).

Somewhere in there between the Flower Children and the feministicals We ceased to become a serious nation. We were serious neither about human nature nor human events, adopting for Ourselves a ‘bubble’ (precursor to the assorted financial bubbles; it was a concept that migrated robustly) in which We were young, brilliant, omnipotent, and magically gifted – and We had the military and financial clout to ensure that Our imperial desires were not frustrated … and can you say Two-Year Old?

Subsequently, the national political scrum threw up a Fundamentalist bubble, synergistic twin of the foregoing: We were chosen by God to wear the Badge of Divine Righteousness and wield the Divine Taser, backed up by a heavily-armed SWAT capability that could respond empathetically and without hesitation to ‘pain’ anywhere in the world, especially – it turned out – landing Ourselves like a Super Nanny at the doorsteps of those peoples who happened to live on or near large deposits of fossil fuels. On the Divine Behalf, We would happily shock and awe the benighted dis-empathetic governments of the world, secure in the knowledge that We would never Ourselves have to face the Divine Grrrrrr because, whether for oil or empathy, We had God on Our side.

Oddly, while We had taken from the Nazi imperium rockets, propaganda techniques, enhanced interrogation techniques, and even the shape of the military helmets, We never took the belt-buckles, upon which was cast the brazen phrase Gott Mit Uns; perhaps it was no wonder that after the agitated ministrations of that imperium – dresst in its 12 years of brief authority – Europe sort of swore off God.

As the world is now increasingly inclined to swear off the United States of America.

And we cawn’t think why. Except that they just don’t get it.

And must be made to get it.

Oy.

But this is the monstrous synergy whereby the pot-hazed day-dreams of the Hippies were co-opted by the steel-jawed and often sensibly-shod determinations of ideological feminism, who had tactical political congress with the Establishment – only to find themselves happily ensconced close enough to the pinnacle of power in the national seraglio so as to call more than a few shots.

But the unsleeping serpent of government authority – caged by the now-Mosaic generation of the Framers – did seduce them with the apple of Weltmacht, and now these empathetic nurturers are busily snuffing out life wherever it gets in the way or just doesn’t get it. Although with far more taste and clawss than Genghis Khan, though – alas – still not rising to the level of genuinely impressive human seriousness evinced by – among others – Elizabeth the First, Catherine the Great, or even Lucrezia Borgia (who at least could speak Latin and read Greek and knew a sin when she committed one).

Not progress, I’m thinking – forty Biblical years of deconstruction and all manner of ‘reform’… and all the death and destruction, and treasure frakkingly frittered away.

Which brings Us back to Albright, who famously observed, her rouged jowls flapping over that heaving maternal bosom, that the lives of half a million Iraqi children were “an acceptable price to pay” for the imposition of America’s vision of how things should be in the New World Order.

Well … if that’s ‘getting it’ then I’m going to sit out this version of the Millennium. If it takes the lives of half a million kids, then this is a Circle that truly deserves to be broken. And, of course, it’s now been a lot more than half a million kids, the butcher’s bill for title to those broad, sunlit uplands of revolutionary empathy.

Flannery O’Connor famously observed back in her day that Southerners wrote about “freaks” because at least they could still recognize one when they saw it. I don’t believe that that profound bit of wisdom is yet past its sell-by date. Not hardly.

If there’s a better home a’waitin’ on this planet, I don’t see that the current Vision is going to get Us there. And actually, I don’t see that that better home a’waitin is on this planet at all. But in this matter the feministicals have proclaimed that there is nowhere else where it might be, and as always the unsleeping government power never really accepts any authority over it, Beyond it, that might sit in judgment over it.

Which perhaps is the biggest Bubble of all.

But the Framers – those fuddy-duddy, apparently un-empathetic oppressors – saw that problem, and would have seen straightaway the freakishness – the frakking freakery, if I may – of wayyy too much of Our current ‘progress’.

Not because they were ‘prophets’ or ‘witches’ but simply because they would have immediately understood that for all the tremendous value of great literature and philosophy, ‘literary theory’ was a concept that did not travel well. It had to stay in the rarefied realm of the classroom. Some realities in this world, and some verrrry big ones, are not simply ‘texts’ that exist independent of their authors (Ben Franklin even used the capital-A on occasion, as in “the Author”). Nor can these verrrry big realities be changed by somebody – or a lot of somebodies – simply changing the way they ‘look’ at them.

So if you try to fly a 747 backwards out of ‘empathy’ for passengers who are experiencing the ‘pain’ of flight-sickness, you cannot be surprised if neither plane nor passengers reaches the desired destination. Or, if out of boundless empathy you try to rescue everybody by overloading the aircraft on its rescue mission, then … ditto.

If there is ‘oppression’ in that equation, it’s not coming from oppression, not even male oppression. Just as Gerald Manley Hopkins noted that “there lives the dearest freshness deep down things”, that reverend child was expressing a counter-insight to the oppressive awareness that there also lives – deep down in the mysterious beating heart of human existence – an abiding darkness. Human be-ing is, like old Kaintuck, “a dark and bloody ground”. And no human being, or country, is totally or reliably free of it, not even those who step out of rivers and swimming pools and proclaim themselves ‘saved’, and not even those who emerge from a bosky weekend klatsch and proclaim that they now indeed ‘get it’.

Empathy is a good thing, but one hose does not extinguish a wildfire.

Seriousness as to the true nature of the situation and its governing dynamics, and as to the possibilities of extinguishing the fire, and of doing so without having to dynamite the very homes and lives you are trying to save … that seriousness is absolutely indispensable, in an individual and in a government.

And We – sadly – seem to have lost it.

And We – freakishly – seem to be dealing with that dim apprehension by ever more loudly and violently striking out at folks in all directions. Yet to exert violence as a way of proving one’s ‘seriousness’ shades ominously close to the testosterone-addled un-mastered and adolescently unripe ‘maleness’ that now appears to be the standard operating procedure for wayyy too many folks, male and female and especially those who formerly were sensibly shod, and including – freakishly – those who trumpet themselves as genuine paragons of sensitivity and empathy.

Albright is peddling an incoherent and unripe vision, and her own record screams un-ripeness and incoherence.

They can swill all the Chardonnay they want out there at the Wellesley College campus (where they are going to set up some Chair or Institute in her name, and receive her ‘papers’).

Flannery O’Connor would know what to say about the whole show.

NOTES

*I use commas here because I am not taking these assertions to be the genuine thoughts of all or even most American females, but rather the code-word for what should actually read ‘women who get it’, which is to say women who agree that the illuminations, excitations, perturbations, and agitations of the radical ideological feminists are the long-lost recipe for turning human existence into gold and the long-lost map to the broad, sunlit uplands of perfect fulfillment in this life – toward the achievement of which ‘revolution’ is most surely justified.

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