Old Gray Lady Grows a Pair
Hat tip to Cox & Forkum for bringing this to my attention. All those not yet familiar with their excellent work should do themselves a favor by paying a quick visit.
Since the closing weeks of the year 2000 when we were all watching the chad-counting in Florida with breathless anticipation, I’ve been looking for somebody to admit something. The “somebody” would be the people who wanted Al Gore to win his endless “recounts”, which I think most of us believe is a nearly identical group to the voters who wanted John Kerry to win. Democrats and Democrat sympathizers. Liberals. Nader voters. Leftist kooks. All those strange bedfellows on the left. I’ve noticed they tend to get awfully agitated when people who pay attention to them start to form opinions about what it is they want…yet for a group that gets all that uppity when onlookers form theories about their motives, they are reticent to explain their motives. What are you after when you hope-against-hope that Al Gore wins the recount, or that John Kerry wins Ohio? After all, growing embryonic life at taxpayers’ expense for the sole purpose of destroying it for unproven research, doesn’t have very much to do with guaranteeing a murdering rapist that he won’t be executed so that perhaps someday he can be thrust through the revolving door of our incarceration system back on the streets. Forcing productive people who get by with little tiny television sets — perhaps no television at all — to pay for a 90 inch widescreen rear-projection for a welfare queen who has babies for a living, has very little at all to do with allowing the United Nations to take control of the Internet. Forcing law-abiding gun-owners to register their firearms, or perhaps to turn them in, doesn’t have an awful lot to do with raising taxes on the most productive of our citizens and insisting against the evidence that trickle-down doesn’t work.
So when I ask liberals face-to-face what it is they’re all about, they answer with “patriotism” or “America” or some such derivative. But it’s when they’re being patriotic that they find so many things wrong with America. For a handful of years now I’ve been toiling with the supposition that perhaps they mean something different when they talk about “America”.
Being in California, I have two Senators who each year take an oath that they will protect The Constitution. Then these two liberal females go about trashing the second and tenth amendments like clockwork. So I have been wondering if there are multiple definitions for “The Constitution” as well.
Well it turns out, the New York Times has stepped up and confirmed this for me. Sort of. In the Friday editorial “A Sense of Proportion at Ground Zero” (link requires registration) the Old Gray Lady ‘fesses up that her vision of “America” is different from everybody else’s:
On their Web site, www.takebackthememorial.org, critics of the cultural plan at ground zero offer a resolution called Campaign America. It says that ground zero must contain no facilities “that house controversial debate, dialogue, artistic impressions, or exhibits referring to extraneous historical events.” This, to us, sounds un-American. [emphasis mine]
First things first. Over the last four years there has been a great deal of heated rhetoric about “So-and-so has challenged my patriotism!” or “I’m tired of having my patriotism questioned!” I’ve noticed with interest that several loud-mouthed commentators, offered high-profile and enviable platforms with which they could substantiate their viewpoints and give their reasons for holding them, instead use the opportunity to announce that their patriotism has been questioned, as if this serves the purpose of reinforcing why it is they say the things they say.
So my first remark would be, what would happen if a much less noticeable, but far more right-wing, panel of commentators used those very words on another panel, or body of work, or organized society, universally acknowledged to be progressive? Suppose Air America made a comment that raised the cackles of oh, I don’t know, someone with lots of journalistic clout. Who is conservative. Let’s say Fox News put out an editorial and used those very words. “This thing Air America said, strikes us as un-American.” Oh, my dear Lord. We’d never hear the end of it.
Why does the left get to pronounce things un-American? Why does the right catch so much flak for calling things unpatriotic, when, if you do some research on the comment in question, you find they never even used that word?
My second remark about this would be, a profound thank you to the New York Times for coming out and saying what everybody has been avoiding. There are two Americas now. Because to me and a lot of other people, the target of the Times’ angst is as American as apple pie.
RESOLVED, that the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation should fulfill its mission by ensuring no facilities that house controversial debate, dialogue, artistic impressions, or exhibits referring to extraneous historical events occupy space on the sacred site at Ground Zero; and that the World Trade Center Memorial must honor the mission of creating a dignified and respectful memorial which focuses exclusively on the victims, heroes and events of September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993.
The “un-American” resolution calls for a finite amount of space to be declared “sacred.” It does not call for Government enforcement efforts to be marshalled to ensure certain things are kept under wraps from sea to shining sea; it defines a “site” that has been placed under the control of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, and within that site controversial debate and artistic impressions and “exhibits referring to extraneous historical events” be expunged from that physical space.
America, to the New York Times, is a place where anyone can say anything anywhere. Nothing is sacred.
This is what blue states & red states are all about.
There is an “America” where those who place an exhibit, carry a burden to be considerate of the feelings of those viewing the exhibit. Don’t accept communion in a Catholic ceremony if you’re not Catholic. Don’t bring ham to a Jewish wedding. Don’t display your blackmail photos of the boss in compromising positions with his secretary, at his memorial service where his widow is showing up. Don’t use the “F” word when you’re in the middle of a busy playground at an elementary school or a park. This “America” stays out of the arena of outlawing things, and relies on old-fashioned taboos; restraint; decorum; taste. It only makes hard-and-fast enforceable rules, to its own disappointment, after it has found that nothing short of a rule will work.
The other “America” is the one where the “artist” carries none of this burden whatsover, and the burden is placed on viewers to show “tolerance”. Yes, I will use my exhibit to muddy the waters in the memorial placed in honor of your dead husband, and you will have to learn to tolerate it. Yes, I will carry my canvas handbag boldly emblazoned with letters that say “MEN MAKE ME HARD”, and if you don’t like it you shouldn’t have brought your young children where they can see it. Yes, I will make an expensive movie with little entertainment value at all, solely to piss off Catholics. One, two. You have to tolerate it.
I was born in the mid sixties. I’ve been told since I was very small, that this first America is “oppressive,” that it’s the second America, the blue-state America, that stands up for free speech. But that second America scares the hell out of me. Why? Because it’s not absolute.
People who have dark skin (who aren’t Asian), women, and homosexuals have favored status with this “America”. If you exercise your free speech to say something or to post something that might be construed as offensive to one of those three groups, that “America” will not uphold your right to free speech. In fact, it will criminalize you. We have seen in recent years that your intent to offend, or lack thereof, is irrelevant. In fact, that the people “offended” by your free speech were all white, straight, and male, is likewise irrelevant.
And you know, by itself, that is fine by me I guess. But what scares me is, when some “free speech” is okay even though it offends a lot of people, and other free speech is worth ending a career over because it offends “proxy” people who don’t belong to the group the speech is supposed to offend — what do you have to have? You’ve got to have an authority figure who is responsible for figuring out what’s “offensive but must be tolerated” and what’s “offensive and Something Must Be Done.” You’ve got to have that authority to live in blue-state America, whether it springs forward from an individual, a group of empowered people, a few informal polls, or a tyrannical majority. Red-staters do want to put us on a tighter leash, it’s true. But the red-state vision is so much more “liberating” — no one else will say so, anywhere — than what the New York Times has offered here.
Once you start to think about it, self-censorship-through-good-manners is much more liberating than the blue-state “anything goes” model. Perhaps it wouldn’t be that way, if the blue states really meant what they said when they said anything goes — clearly, they really don’t. But congratulations to the New York Times for articulating what they mean when they talk about “American”. Now we know what country they’re from, and it isn’t America! They boarded a steamship over here from that country, wherever it is, where everyone has to put up with anything at anytime and anyplace. Except for, of course, when the elites in power decide your free speech falls into the “anything but” category, and you must now be prosecuted for a hate crime.