Thursday, November 11, 2004

Recommendations and Red State idiots

Kevin Jones of Philokalia Republic has published an essay in the interesting new web-journal The New Pantagruel. More precisely it is a book review of Claes Ryn's America the Virtuous (and why it isn't). Here's an arresting passage:

Professor Ryn thinks that revolutionaries are indeed among us, and not only on the political left. In his view, the arguments found on the lips of many influential conservatives resemble not staples of traditional American rhetoric, but instead the tenets of the Jacobin ideology of the French Revolution.

That got my attention. I'm almost finished with it, and I don't think it's over my head. I'll let you know for sure after I dry off. In any case you should read it, and check out the rest of the mag, then run over to his place and offer congratulations. He's got comments now.

Speaking of writers haunting the vicinity of St. Blog's, one, a Joseph D'Hippolito, whose vehemence, I believe, in certain comments boxes got him banned from those environs, has been writing articles for Front Page Mag, from which convergence I draw no conclusions. This one concerns the Pope's awareness of a thing called jihad. Mr. D'Hippolito, as I recall, is not accustomed to carrying water for the Pope, but from this I draw no conclusion as to the accuracy of his article. I report on the report, you decide.

TSO refers us to an article in the NY Times by David Brooks, in which the middle-of-the-road, sittin'-on-the-fence op-ed star castigates liberals for feeling "morally superior to the people who just defeated them," and for believing that "throngs of homophobic, Red America values-voters surged to the polls to put George Bush over the top." He proceeds to reassure them that that is precisely what did not happen, so that they might continue to stroke their contempt for the values-voters. With friends like Brooks...

"...25 percent of the voters supported gay marriage and 35 percent of voters supported civil unions. There is a big middle on gay rights issues, as there is on most social issues," says he. But I saw another poll that said only 30% supported civil unions. That doesn't sound like a big middle to me. Sounds like about a third. The middle's somewhere to the right of that.

Says he:

Much of the misinterpretation of this election derives from a poorly worded question in the exit polls. When asked about the issue that most influenced their vote, voters were given the option of saying "moral values." But that phrase can mean anything - or nothing. Who doesn't vote on moral values? If you ask an inept question, you get a misleading result.

But they were given other options as well, like 'terrorism' and the 'economy' and 'education' - and 'moral values' beat them all. I'm willing to bet your average stupid American, otherwise known as a red-state resident, probably knows what he means by moral values; I'm willing to bet this because I don't believe a liberal would frame his Kerry vote in those terms. And though moral values may cover a range of issues, I'll wager they are associated with certain, particularly ugly manifestations that give your average stupid American the sense that his society is going to hell: an unchecked abortion license (to include partial-birth), rampant pornography, an amoral education system, and - are you ready Mr. Brooks? - gay marriage.

I figure it happened something like this: your average moron red-stater is sitting in front of the TV one day and hears that homosexuals can now marry in Massachussetts, the state Kerry hails from. (I wonder if he hates those judges yet.) A few days later, your average anencephalic, homophobic, misogynistic, fascistic red-state couch potato is watching the news and all of a sudden that judicial ruling assumes concrete form. It takes a body, so to speak, lots of them, and what our red-stater sees is a bunch of boys holding hands with other boys, and girls with girls, and exchanging rings and wedding vows, and gazing longingly into each others' eyes, and sealing it all with a kiss, and our intellectually decapitated red-stater thinks what once would have seemed a normal thought: "Something's wrong here." The next day he sees it happening again in San Francisco, and then hears it's spreading to other municipalities in New York, New Mexico and so forth, all in defiance of statutory law, and so he finally gets to his feet, hooks his thumbs inside the suspenders of his farmer's overalls and says, "They ain't rammin' this down my throat." He decides that this year he's going to the polls, enough of him to put Bush over the top.

And Big Media has lost the election for John Kerry.

In line with my cynic's disposition, I too am sceptical of the 'values' vote because, in the end, I just can't know why people voted the way they did. But I do have a little values snapshot for you. After class the other night I walked to the parking lot with one of my students, a young lady in the 18 to 20 year old range. She is pro-choice, never wants to marry or have children (doesn't want to spend money on anyone but herself, but I also suspect she's been disappointed by a couple of fellows), thinks religion is a delusion, supports, or is perhaps indifferent to, the 'right' of homosexuals to marry - she is entombed, in other words, in that darkness of the liberal and somewhat libertarian delusion that would put the religious to shame. Well, a reader might ask, why were you talking to her? What's the point?

Because I have hope for her. I told her she would find love, have children, share the gift of life. No, no, no, she protested, but laughing as she did so. I got the sense that she liked having someone tell her these things. I can't help it, but I find something delightful in the personalities of the young no matter how deranged their assumptions. We discussed the election and I asked for whom she had voted, already knowing the answer, but she surprised me by saying, "Bush." She said she felt good about her choice. But why? I asked, considering the baggage. Because, she said, her brother was in Iraq.

Ah, a sister's love. She wanted to support her brother. Her vote was about family, the most normal and nearly most sublime of human affections. For some reason she saw Bush as the "family" guy. I wonder why.

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