Thaddeus Russell’s Dead Horse
Finished Thaddeus Russell’s A Renegade History of the United States. It is an interesting book … not good, but interesting, which is sometimes better. I will comment on it in more detail soon, probably in longer form at this site.
In the meantime, think about this: trace a line from Booker T. Washington up through Martin Luther King all the way to President Obama. Can we see this thread as counterrevolutionary? Add in the current push for gay rights (re: the military and gay marriage) and ask yourself the same thing. Just though these struggles may be (and they are just, so spare me your liberal indignation), they amount to normalization for larger parts of the populace; and as such, Russell shows them to be counterrevolutionary*. Here, at least, I believe he is right on the money.
It could be argued that this is the revolution, after all. Tell me: are you happy with Obama? Has he made any real changes for the better? Did Stonewall happen just to make the world safe for Log Cabin Republicans?
I think not. This point goes to Russell … but there are many more to be discussed at greater length, and trust me, he doesn’t fare as well across the board.
* Not that he would use the term “counterrevolutionary” or even talk about revolution. I can’t think of him using either term even once in the book, though surely he did at least a couple times. He did, after all, have to avoid even the faintest whiff of Marxism, lest he be savaged by his libertarian friends.
I Am Not Angry Anymore
You try to figure out how to navigate this life without being pissed all the time. It’s not easy. You have to really work at it.
One thing: you’ve got to figure people for who they are instead of who they aren’t. That may sound stupid, but I really think it helps. I don’t expect concrete change to originate with the government, I don’t expect the overwhelming majority of the media to get (and report on) what is really important, I don’t expect my boss to be a philosopher king, I don’t expect my favorite NASCAR driver to be a progressive, I don’t expect pop culture figures to have a brain, etc.
I have friends that are very conservative. They are loving and conscientious people who want the world to be a better place, just like me. The things they do, the way they live their lives, the way they treat (most) other people, all are in line with what I believe is right. They may support political causes that are destructive, but that’s not what they are.* There is, of course, always an accounting and a balance: but I always try to start such an accounting at what a person actively does as opposed to what I think they should be.
A person I follow here recently put down a little screed against Rachel Maddow (actually in the middle of a nice rant against Andrew Weiner - take the time to read it), and I tend to agree with every point he made. But: there are a few things she does well, and I like her for that. Does that mean she’s the answer to the shortcomings of our media? No, it doesn’t, but again, I like her for what she is, and try not to judge her for what she isn’t. When she reports on the Wisconsin protests, I watch her. When she does pointless and silly hand wringing over Weiner, I change to ESPN 2 and watch drag racing. And, all the while, I look for some reporting that is more in line with what I think reporting should be.
President Obama, on the other hand, has used up all of his credit on this score. He is now the President who continues to escalate in Afghanistan, the president who cozies up with big business to stay in power, the president who uses unarmed drones to assassinate foreign nationals. Back when he got his lame health care plan passed, I liked him for what he was (a guy who tried) rather than what he wasn’t (a guy who could get the job done). I’ve said in several places that I liked him fine because all I really expected out of him was not to be George W. Bush, but I retract that now. All of a sudden, he seems further and further away from being a positive influence in the world … and no, being a less negative influence than the alternative is not good enough.
That part about not being angry anymore? Well, it’s kinda bullshit. There’s still plenty to be angry about. Being a bit more selective helps.
* by political causes, I generally mean fiscal policy that is destructive to the poor and working class, defense policies which bankrupt our country, security policies that disrupt our privacy, etc. If you are actively against the rights of a class of people different than you (for example, if you are against gay rights), then I consider that actively bad, and I do differentiate it from other types of conservatism, even if the end result of bad fiscal policies is as destructive to a class of people (poor and working class) as being against gay rights.