"The New P.C." Post 9/11 Political Correctness:
January 5, 2002 5:38 AM   Subscribe

"The New P.C." Post 9/11 Political Correctness: "In the new p.c., anyone who says anything critical about the president or his administration is branded an anti-American akin to the Marin County Taliban," writes Frank Rich in the New York Times. The old p.c. died when Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect" was nearly cancelled. Where will the new p.c. take us in the 21st century? (more inside)
posted by Carol Anne (62 comments total)

 
Inside what?
This isn't one of those David Blaine sort of things where you pull the further details out of my navel is it? Because I'm not wearing deodorant.
posted by dong_resin at 5:47 AM on January 5, 2002


I tend to belive, like the majority of post 9/11 sentiments, the pc thing will pass on rather quickly.

Witness the tee-shirt I got for christmas, supposedly ordered sometime in november.
posted by dong_resin at 6:12 AM on January 5, 2002


Before the events of September 11, 2001 "Politically correct" (p.c.) meant: 1. Of, relating to, or supporting broad social, political, and educational change, especially to redress historical injustices in matters such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. 2. Being or perceived as being overconcerned with such change, often to the exclusion of other matters.

No more. By mid-November, the new conservative political correctness dominated the USA (the first two Google sightings of "new p.c.") . American flags fly, macho heroes are lauded, patriotism is in. To me, it feels like the Fifties again. The sneer of "un-American" has re-surfaced, dissent is frowned upon, George W. Bush's popularity is sky-high. Will the new p.c. last?
posted by Carol Anne at 6:22 AM on January 5, 2002


Fret not. The unemployment rate and eco omy will end the Bush numbers soon.
posted by Postroad at 6:51 AM on January 5, 2002


Are people still driving around with embarrassing little flags on their cars? I hope it's true that it will all go away soon, but meanwhile it sounds as if it still isn't safe to wear that shirt. (But I could wear it proudly here. Can I borrow it?)
posted by pracowity at 7:05 AM on January 5, 2002


Despite my lack of deodorant?
I admire the commitment, pracowity.
posted by dong_resin at 7:35 AM on January 5, 2002


Are people still driving around with embarrassing little flags on their cars?

I find nothing embarrassing about the flag.
posted by mw at 7:37 AM on January 5, 2002


I saw one car with the Wanted:Osama poster in the back window, I presume a photocopy of the ones posted at the post office. Bin Laden's somewhere on the streets of Portland, Oregon! Keep your eyes peeled and thanks for the reminder Mr. '88 Tempo.
posted by Tacodog at 7:52 AM on January 5, 2002


I think Bush's candle has burned brightly, but it's about to go out. And the precarious "new PC" with it.

It was different in the 50's. The USSR could have killed all of us in a few minutes and turned the whole place into a nuclear waste dump. Compared to that al Quada & co seem almost harmless.

I still think Bush is an idiot. Lots of people do.

Fine, we kicked their ass. Now can we please get back to the things that are actually effecting most Americans - The tanking manufacturing sector, investor fear, growing unemployment, energy shortages, crumbling copyright law, etc, etc.

The administration is happy to keep us scared and in line, but people just aren't going to do that for long. As Americans we value jobs and quality of life much more than safety from terrorism. As the years go by and terrorists prove incapable of much beyond the odd bombing here and there (which our own nutjobs have been doing for a couple centuries), we'll tire of the War on Terrorism.

A year from now the only people who will give Bush and the right support for such silliness are the ones who supported him before 9/11.

The new PC? That so '01.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:21 AM on January 5, 2002


The 'Old P.C.' was B.S., and to generalise the current American mindset as the 'New P.C.' is not only far too simplistic, it is callous and without much thought.

I fly a flag on my car, and from my balcony, and I constructed one of those silly tribute Web sites that many of you probably frown upon. No, I did not do these things before 9/11, but the world was a different place then.

A year from now the only people who will give Bush and the right support for such silliness are the ones who supported him before 9/11.

'Silliness'? Maybe you'd like you point out how things could be better handled. 'Silliness', indeed... tell that to the 10k+ orphaned kids whose parents were mindlessly slaughtered.

In case you weren't aware, there is a serious threat out there. Say what you will about the 'New P.C.', but without it, we may as well roll over and grease up.
posted by fahfooh at 8:39 AM on January 5, 2002


As you can see pracowity, yes those fucking flags are still everywhere. I've seen exactly one flag sticker applied upside-down. I wish I were TUFF enough to fly a flag of dissent, but I would assuredly be run off the road during my commute -- about this I have no doubt. Welcome to America!
posted by sudama at 8:49 AM on January 5, 2002


There are a whole bunch of "laws" (standards, I suppose) about how the flag is to be flown. The way almost every one of the mindless rah-rah-ers treats the flag is tantamount to burning the thing. Ragged, abused, left out at night, treated disrespectfully.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:53 AM on January 5, 2002


tell that to the 10k+ orphaned kids

Thousands of Orphans?
posted by skyline at 9:05 AM on January 5, 2002


Well, evidence here certainly suggests the 'victimology'--so oft decried by critics on the right--when those on the left talked about the ill housed, ill fed and just plain ill, has become the victimology-by-proxy of the right when it comes to maudlin references to 10K+ orphan kids(!!!)...

Which brings to mind all those people who donated for victims of the WTC attacks only, forget anyone else who could use the help usually distributed by the Red Cross and such. Just as Congress overlooked, evidently, the the Al Quaeda victims of the Kenyan and Tanzanian embassy bombings. Hey, we have our icons, don't bother us with details!

Thanks, Carol Anne: a much needed palliative to the flag waving, flag-wrapping-around-oneself-to denote-supreme- moral-superiority-to-all-not-in-total-agreement-with-right-wing-worldview that has been so sickeningly evident here and elsewhere.
posted by y2karl at 9:18 AM on January 5, 2002


You know, the world didn't change on September 11th. Just the USA branded part. If Pakistan and India end up going to war against each other (as in a real war), then I think the world will change.

The Disney-fication of the attack site was always going to happen, but it has started sooner than I expected. I can't wait till they have the crash simulator.
posted by jackiemcghee at 9:21 AM on January 5, 2002


Yesterday I took a neighbor girl to the mall to spend a gift certificate she received for Christmas. The mall was absolutely brimming with people. No one was concerned with kindness or basic manners. Children were screaming, adults knocking me out of the way. Clerks were rude, impatient and sometimes stalked me like a common criminal or at the minimum, a consumer with cash to spend (wrong on both counts.) The stores were brimming with leftover Christmas crap. The "sales" were plenty but the savings negligible. In a department store, I found a watch nestled in the Christmas clearance items, so I trudged all the way back downstairs to return it to the jewelry counter lest someone steal it, since normally you have to pay for those things in the jewelry department. I stood there while two clerks ignored me for at least two minutes. When they finally acknowledged my presence, I explained where I found the watch and that I thought they might want it back at the jewelry counter. The clerk jerked it out of my hand without a thank you or kiss my a$$. Consumerism at its finest; God Bless America.

While coming out of the mall and walking across the parking lot to my car, I was almost hit by a speeding black truck. After I ran out of the way and turned around to look at the driver, he glared at me through black tinted windows as if a pedestrian had no right to be headed to her car. He passed, and on the back window of his truck was a sticker of the cliched pissing boy, peeing on a cross. On both sides of the bed of his truck were mounted two large American flags, flapping furiously considering he was going about 40 in the parking lot, right up near the doors. A true patriot; God Bless America.
posted by Scorch at 9:26 AM on January 5, 2002


Frank Rich has written a number of bitter and poisonous articles about the war and this administration. It is helpful to recall that his first calling in life was as a theater critic where he was reviled for his nasty and spitefull reviews of plays in the NYT.

How wonderful that he has finally found an appreciative audience for his unique talents on the editorial page of the New York Times shilling for the Democrats.
posted by Real9 at 9:31 AM on January 5, 2002


As an antidote to the bullshit spouted by gun-toting, Jesus-loving, hate mongers. I'm grateful Frank Rich out there. He's an intelligent voice of reason. Just THINK at little. Look around you. Rich is pointing out that plastering a flag on a gas-guzzling SUV is an empty, sanctimonious gesture simply meant to imply superiority on the part of the flag waver. (Alternatively, the Xeroxed flag waver even more absurd and empty.) When the idiot in the White House and his henchmen/henchwomen attempts to squelch dissent or criticism, to stomp out opposing views, is when I get scared. When Americans don't give one moments thought to the rhetoric about "10,000 orphans", the enemy within frightens me as much as the enemy "out there". The sheer fascistic, mindlessness of Americans at this point in history scares the fuck out of me. Keep em coming Frank we need you now more than ever. I make a point never to miss his column because he makes me feel less alone in an insane world.
posted by TeejNSF at 9:52 AM on January 5, 2002


Real9 was just flame baiting. Free Republic links to follow...
posted by y2karl at 9:55 AM on January 5, 2002


on the back window of his truck was a sticker of the cliched pissing boy, peeing on a cross.

Wow, that's pretty amazingly offensive for a guy with flags on his pickup. Maybe it was the Special Edition Piss Christ Calvin sticker?

Are you sure that wasn't the Chevy logo just viewed from a weird angle?
posted by MrBaliHai at 10:06 AM on January 5, 2002


Maybe I was too kind to Frank Rich. Maybe he's just recycling old columns with a partisan spin.
posted by Real9 at 10:20 AM on January 5, 2002


The recent events in American history have sparked a lot of the same debates that we’re reading here. This idea of a new, unarguably conservative and patriotic ‘PC’ has been everywhere lately. I, for the most part, do see this as a resurgence of a 50’s type of post-war patriotism that we saw with the likes of McCarthyism and frankly, I’m scared…

“It was different in the 50's. The USSR could have killed all of us in a few minutes and turned the whole place into a nuclear waste dump. Compared to that al Quada & co seem almost harmless.”

Not true, y6y6y6. Most historians will tell you that Soviet’s decision to use nukes in the 50’s & 60’s were merely reactionary measures, and that we were actually the first ones to pull the nuke card, when we installed Missile sites in Turkey that we aimed at the USSR with the sole intention of blowing them up for their migration into east Europe, what-would-become-East-Germany, and China. The reason why the Soviets placed nukes in Cuba was specifically to cover their own asses. The Cuban missile crisis actually ended when we secretly agreed to remove these sites from Turkey (the public did not know this at the time because it was not released to the media, for fear that we might be labeled ‘surrender monkeys’ to the American public). In short, the USSR was always more afraid of us then we were of them. Of course, this does not even begin to mention the fact that we almost nuked China during the Korean war (at the request of one insane General McCarthur, not to be confused with the equally insane McCarthy) simply for their aid to Korea, which arguably, was a bad move. The point is this: immediate post WW2 was a time of paranoia for the US – we emerged the most powerful country on the planet, but we feared that our new-found power and glory would be torn asunder by the USSR, who arguably, after WW2, had very little power at all (almost 20 million losses in WW2, more than any other country) besides their knack for ideological communist fervor. In essence, post WW 2 was a paranoid battle of ideologies on both sides of the fence. We were in a race to spread our modernist/consumerist/capitalist ideology faster than the ‘boogie man’, and thus, forged the moral patriotic/consumerist code for the average American to live by that became what we now know as ‘The 50’s’. In essence, this was ‘PC’ behavior for the average American at the time.

This is precisely why I’m scared today. Historical events inevitably create ideologies of the times. Sept 11th has given your average apathetic American an excuse to place a silly flag on their SUV’s or ranch home windows. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we have seen in recent events the amount of irrational behavior that has been aimed at Islamic Americans and anyone of the Muslim ilk. I’m scared because this has trickled into a new-found patriotism of sorts that aims to potentially hurt any American of a different taxonomy than the norm (anti-capitalist, communist, minority groups, etc, etc). Just look at the news lately and you’ll see countless instances of attacks on Muslim Americans, petty arrests of anyone speaking anti-American sentiments, or even harassment of anyone who does not wish to buy stamps with American Flags at the post office. Yes, I’m scared, not because I hate patriotism, but because I fear that reactionary measures as an ideology of the times will hurt innocent lives, as history has proven to be a case in the past.
posted by tiger yang at 10:23 AM on January 5, 2002


Wow. This is disgusting. I can't wait until someone pops in and advocates wiping your ass with other people's flags. (I'm sure there's already an article or two on Indymedia about it.)
I sewed a flag patch onto my backpack (I don't own a car.). Somehow, I can reconcile being proud of my country *and* thinking that Ashcroft's an asshole and Ari Fleischer is better suited to a position at Minitrue. And I'd love to hear how y'all think Ralph Nader would have handled this better.
Anyway, please continue the orgy of self-righteous USA-loathing. (And I love the gratuitous SUV-bashing. Paging dead_horse, paging dead_horse…) I suppose the n+1th mention of 'your neighbor calling you an asshole isn't squashing dissent' would be pointless here. Who is being arrested for saying 'America sucks?' Visits from FBI men who leave when you tell them to doesn't count.
posted by darukaru at 10:28 AM on January 5, 2002


Are you sure that wasn't the Chevy logo just viewed from a weird angle?

I might be more inclined to think so had he actually hit me, and was therefore viewing the sticker from a horizontal position in the road. Because I was standing, however, I am quite sure it was indeed Calvin peeing on the cross.
posted by Scorch at 10:37 AM on January 5, 2002


[This is a slightly longish post folks - hope you find it worth the read.]

It is likely, methinks, that America is in the midst of a maturation process. Yes, we did get knocked a couple steps down the pyramid in Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but I suspect that over time we'll naturally get back to life as usual. In the short run, yes, naturally all sorts of people are taking advantage of the situation to enforce their own notions of the world (there has always been factions of our government that have wanted far more control over the populace - they are usually held in check. Currently they are able to get with slightly more than usual, but the time when they can do this will pass ...).

So far as "... No, I did not do these things before 9/11, but the world was a different place then ...", I don't entirely agree. I think Guliani actually hit on the truth: "The world is no different than it was before 9/11, our eyes are simply opened a bit wider".

My own perception, for what it's worth, is as follows. I'm in neither camp, either the "oh it's horrible that Bush and his cronies are enforcing patriotism uber alles", but I don't wave flags and believe we've finally retuned to some righteous patriotic age either. We're digesting, and we're each doing it in our own way.

I was in what could probably be called the thick of it. Worked in the World Financial Center - a building a few hundred yards from the WTC. Watched the second plane fly by my office window (We didn't know what had happened after the first one, but after the second I knew immediately is not accidental - you know that distinct noise jet engines make when they open the throttle? That motherfucker actually opened it wide - in essence, floored it - in the last couple of seconds before it hit. Sorry about my language - still hard to even think about this). I live 3 blocks from ground zero (lived in a midtown hotel for three full weeks afterwards - the army wouldn't let me near my apartment).

The first week after, my company brought in a psychologist to speak to senior management ... we were all, frankly, absolutely clueless as to how to manage through something like this - some staff members seemed completely unaffected, while others were periodically literally hiding in restroom stalls and weeping now and then.

The psychologist was great - she said that the essential internal experience of the event was that people had the "illusion of security" stripped away in an instant. She said everyone normally lives with the assumption that life is relatively predictable, and risk is largely controllable. We assume, when we walk out of our houses in the morning, that will walk into them that night - that things don't just randomly and instantly descend horribly upon us. She pointed out that this is, indeed, an illusion. Life is not safe. But we cannot live in a state of perpetual flight/fight mode, and we wrap a sort of shell of illusion around ourselves. At both the individual and national level, we felt, most of the time, safe.

9/11 temporarily destroyed that. Initial effects were not just psychologial, but rather, biochemical. The adrenals fire, and people do immediately hunker down into flight/fight mode. The difficulty with this situation is that this is an old, instinctual response - built into us to deal with tigers suddenly appearing in jungles. In this event, there was no action to take - no one to fight, and nowhere to run to, but a physiology primed to almost have to do one or the other. In other words, we all had to respond somehow. (Interestingly enough, she said that this experience - suddenly feeling wide open and vulnerable when moments before the world was safe and predictable - has nothing to do with proximity ... that she expected houswives in Iowa to start showing symptoms of Delayed Stress Syndrome six months after the event to almost the same degree as people at ground zero would).

What I've watched in my own staff, and indeed, in others across the country (even on MeFi) over the last few months is almost exactly what this woman predicted - a whole range of responses to an identical experience: The sudden, dramatic loss of control. Everyone has a whole menu of psychologial characteristics ... and we all have a sort of equalizer inside of us, i.e., various characterisitics are prominant, while others are minor players. What I think the event did was force an adjustment of that equalizer. I've watched traits that were dominant in some people go almost silent, others that were usually in control beneath the surface suddenly ecome dominant. This is the way people are attempting to heal the shock, to feel safe again.

With many, greatly emphasizing the chest-beating sense of patiotism IS the way to feel a sense of control again. Maybe before these people are critisized too harshly, one should reflect that this is a healing mechanism. It is also why the government is (temporarily) able to get away with all sorts of draconian measures that disturb civil libertarians (and would have disturbed most of the population pre 9/11) ... they DO help people (once again) feel a sense of safety and control.

Likewise - those who were always critical of the government (either party) and/or the entire political/economic system in the US have themselves become, in some cases, almost visciously critical ("... yes those fucking flags are still everywhere ...") - but this too may be at least partially a mechanism for restoring a sense of safety and control - of getting back to normal (there is a little sub-group of people in the US to whom continual bitter criticism and cynacism is actually the center of their comfort zone).

At any rate ... this was a huge event, and we probably cannot expect it to be fully processed and digested in two or three months ... and have to expect strange behaviour (and a lot of control fetishes by both individuals and our government) as a reaction, a mechansim to return to "the illusion of safety). But we also shouldn't believe that this won't dissolve over time.

And we should probably cut one another a bit of slack. The Patriots shouldn't be equating dissent with "pro-Taliban", and the dissenters should realizing that critisizing the "consumerism" around the event is using the event for their own normal purposes in the same way as those using it to enforce patriotism use it for their.
posted by MidasMulligan at 11:05 AM on January 5, 2002 [1 favorite]


"I fly a flag on my car, and from my balcony, and I constructed one of those silly tribute Web sites that many of you probably frown upon. No, I did not do these things before 9/11, but the world was a different place then."

The world is the same old place its always been. We were just a bit luckier before 9-11, have you forgotten the WTC 1993?
posted by onegoodmove at 11:18 AM on January 5, 2002


Do we really need a neologism? There's a perfectly good word for what's being alluded to as 'new P.C.': "jingoist."

Isn't forming a term from the words "political" and "correct" something of an oxymoron in the first place?
posted by majick at 11:21 AM on January 5, 2002


thanks MidasMulligan, that explains a lot!
posted by kliuless at 12:11 PM on January 5, 2002


It's not a stretch to say that the world changed on 9/11. Read some foreign papers, and you'll see diplomats randomly dropping "since September 11" into their quotes about, heck, things as apparently unrelated as the Argentine debt crisis. There's unquestionably been a major realignment of US foreign policy, and this is having unpredictable side-effects in all sorts of corners.

Of course the world did not actually change, what happened is that people changed it. This was an historic turning point that will be marked in textbooks decades from now. Before 9/11 there were no mofos flying planes into buildings, raising the stakes of terrorism some 20x over any previous attack in all of human history, achieving an asymmetrical victory of at least $100 billion damage with an expenditure of $250,000 and a few lives. That's new; that's going to be repeated, if not here, then somewhere else. Knowing that changes the calculus, for example, of the risk faced by Israel even under an idealistic, accomodative peace agreement. Before 9/11 a post-Cold-War policy matrix still held in most of the world. Now we have new challenges and new opportunities on a rattled chessboard. Before 9/11 American policy could overlook the power of the Islamist movement; now we have to recognize it as a major danger, to its Middle-Eastern home nations as well as to us. Perhaps it represents a final, unexpected challenge to the ultimate victory of liberal democracy, the End of History; perhaps it represents a more permanent philosophical break, a Clash of Civilizations; perhaps, if we're lucky, it's a blip in history, Islam will eschew this radical revolutionarianism, and we'll all reach a sane and peaceful international system in short order. We don't know yet. We do know that the stakes have been raised.

For some reason a handful of people remain deeply suspicious of the flag and what (they believe) it stands for. Choosing to label it mere right-wing jingoism cheapens it, cheapens American history, cheapens all the progressive causes from Abolition to Labor Rights to Immigration to Environmentalism. Surely those, too, are part of the American tradition; surely the flag stands for the system that gives those movements a voice and a peaceful means to their ends. The flag should stand for something to people outside the US, and as long as "ev'ry time the flag's unfurled, they come to America", I'm not worried that we've turned into a lurid cartoon of fascism. We've seen such a lurid cartoon brought to ugly life in the Taliban.

People who don't actually have political rights or political voice know how important those are and how the US remains a beacon to those seeking freedom. The events of 9/11 have given many Americans a reason to reassess the importance of our simplest, most basic values -- freedom of speech, diversity of cultures and religions, economic opportunity. These are not chimeras, and the new patriotism should not be assumed to be merely skin deep. Arguably, the very success that has made us a superpower is due directly to our system of values, tested by time, improved repeatedly, enduring despite challenges. Yes, this echoes the 1950s: we in safe America had seen the home of our democratic values and institutions rent by ugly, deadly war. We knew the sacrifice that had been required, and we treasured our geographic isolation and the military that kept things that way. Today, we have a new appreciation of the risk and sacrifice our soldiers and, yes, our domestic rescue workers endure all in the name of those same values.

Surely we're not perfect. But we have a system that allows us to perfect ourselves. We've built something great here, regardless of flaws, and we should, justly, be proud of that. We'll be challenged further in coming years, and we'll need pride and self-assuredness to overcome those obstacles. Whatever your politics, whatever your specific values, that pride can be harnessed, that flag can provide morale and vanguard. Don't reject it because you've artificially divided your values from those of us who wave it. If you think about it, we still share the most important ones.
posted by dhartung at 12:28 PM on January 5, 2002


It is helpful to recall that his first calling in life was as a theater critic where he was reviled for his nasty and spitefull reviews of plays in the NYT.

Huh? Despite being dubbed "The Butcher of Broadway," Frank Rich was actually quite a good theater critic, as his collected reviews indicate. In retrospect, his criticism was often spot-on, he was supportive of new work, and he was usually quite astute about what would appeal to audiences and what wouldn't. (His review of Cats, which you'd have expected him to slam, is a case in point: he was blunt about what's wrong with it, but he also correctly explained why it would be successful no matter what the critics said.) If you want "nasty and spiteful," there's always John Simon and his wearisome habit of flaunting his sexuality when he ought to be reviewing.

That being said, I've never been particularly enthused about Rich as a political columnist. He's best off when talking about entertainment issues.
posted by thomas j wise at 12:38 PM on January 5, 2002


There's a great LA Times Op-Ed making some of the points I did (in the context of academic criticism of the American role in the world). Also by a liberal.

It is easy to write off inflated, patently partisan criticisms [such as the Lynne Cheney "blacklist"] made by people we do not like. But that is a poor way to learn. It is far better to examine why the critique resonates with the public. If some American intellectuals are not as prepared to defend the nation as they are to criticize it, they may deserve the accusations of "unpatriotic" that we have parried for 30 years. The political right will capture the American flag only if we hand it to them.
posted by dhartung at 1:31 PM on January 5, 2002


Surely we're not perfect. But we have a system that allows us to perfect ourselves. We've built something great here, regardless of flaws, and we should, justly, be proud of that. We'll be challenged further in coming years, and we'll need pride and self-assuredness to overcome those obstacles. Whatever your politics, whatever your specific values, that pride can be harnessed, that flag can provide morale and vanguard. Don't reject it because you've artificially divided your values from those of us who wave it. If you think about it, we still share the most important ones.

Isn't this the whole point of dissent? Is it that much of a leap to also include in your conflation of every American person as a trite "We", those who don't lump themselves in with "You". Those who have lost their jobs on trumped up recession fears while former bosses continue to make comparatively exponential sums don't feel as though America is a place that can be described with a simple We-take-care-of-our-own-here-in-the-USofA. Because obviously we don't. Those who cannot afford or have no chance of obtaining health insurance by way of "existing conditions" and existence in the lower class don't feel all misty when the greatness of America is propounded by every network, newspaper, radio outlet and church. These are those who are not spoken for in this "(im)perfect" society so many speak of.

I ask: Have pride in what? As your pension has been whittled away by greedy millionaires keeping their faltering companies and postive personal income growth out of the brief bout of red that 9/11 caused.

Patriotism comes in many forms. Luckily for us as a nation, it is most certainly not contingent upon how many WalMart stars and stripes one displays and how often "sacrifice" is invoked by those who stand to gain the most from further widening the equality gap of and on the backs of those who can afford to sacrifice the least.
posted by crasspastor at 1:52 PM on January 5, 2002


Isn't this the whole point of dissent?

I meant to follow this with, "Because it is so imperfect?"
posted by crasspastor at 1:54 PM on January 5, 2002


dhartung: For some reason a handful of people remain deeply suspicious of the flag and what (they believe) it stands for.

this is just the problem: the right and the new wave of moderate war apologists believe that if I have questions about US policies and actions or about any politician's motives in supporting those actions, that I somehow do not support the US or American ideals. "deeply suspicious of the flag", indeed.

I *am* deeply suspicious of many of the people in power in this country. and I'm often skeptical of the wisdom of US actions, even when the architects of those actions appear to be sincere and honorable in their motives.

both of those are very different from not supporting my country, and from not believing in American ideals. if I *didn't* have a strong belief in American ideals I wouldn't become so angry when I see those who have sworn to uphold those ideals trample upon them. I wouldn't get upset when they spout those ideals in order to obfuscate their own self-interested actions. and I wouldn't be so distressed when I witness well-intended actions that I believe are bound to be destructive to US ideals and long-term interests in favor of short-term gain and personal ambition.

I believe that one of the most loyal things I can do for my country is to guard its ideals by questioning the government's actions, and especially by questioning the motives of those who are making decisions. I make a distinction between the people in power and the country itself, you see.

since 9.11, the right and the war apologists have developed an entirely binary view of the world: those who support US actions and those who do not. they seem to have lost the ability to distinguish between those who question individual policymakers and policies, and those who wish to destroy the United States.

it's been very sad to watch.
posted by rebeccablood at 1:57 PM on January 5, 2002


I believe that one of the most loyal things I can do for my country is to guard its ideals by questioning the government's actions, and especially by questioning the motives of those who are making decisions. I make a distinction between the people in power and the country itself, you see.

rebeccablood: well said! Since 9/11, I've worn a decade-old version of the Rainbow/USA Friendship Flag pin. I've also joined the ACLU, spurred by my concern that we must be watchful, so as to have liberty and justice for all.
posted by Carol Anne at 2:31 PM on January 5, 2002


"war apologists". That's an interesting one. Some of us would call the folks on the left who are so riddled with "guilt" the ones who always seek to apologize for everything. Has America been an angel? Heck no. But once again, we see folks blaming the victim. Quite sickening.

I hate George Bush, can't stand him. But the left-liberal reaction of "let's sit and twiddle our thumbs and hope for world peace" is foolhardy and downright stupid.

The self loathing of the left is evident in your outright hatred of the American flag. Why does it frighten you so much? Heaven forbid the American people are united against a common enemy! They must be crazy, right? If America was so stupid and so evil as you portend, wouldn't we just have wiped Afghanistan off the map? If the American people are so bloodthirsty why are millions of dollars in aid flowing to Afghanistan?

War is a last resort, it should never be the first option. But if you are faced with annihilation, singing "cumbaya" is a recipe for disaster.

And much like the flag waving you deride, some of us were ACLU members long before there was a crater in New York.
posted by owillis at 3:12 PM on January 5, 2002


apologist
Main Entry: apol.o.gist
Pronunciation: &-'pä-l&-jist
Function: noun
Date: 1640

here's a good online dictionary.

one who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something
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thanks for providing such a quick illustration, owillis.

I'll just note that I haven't said a word against flags here -- ever. and I don't know of many, if any, on the left who advocated that the US take no action whatever in response to the attacks on the WTC.
posted by rebeccablood at 3:24 PM on January 5, 2002


on the left who advocated that the US take no action whatever in response to the attacks on the WTC

I certainly haven't heard it. All I've heard is "war is bad".
posted by owillis at 3:32 PM on January 5, 2002


we may as well roll over and grease up.
fahfoo, obviously you already have.
posted by quonsar at 3:45 PM on January 5, 2002


As always, I have to add my two cents to this thread.

First of all, carol anne is absolutely right that a lot of conservative behavior of late falls under the heading of "political correctness," proving that it's not only leftists who are capable of being rigid humorless ideologues. I didn't like p.c. thinking when it came from the left, I like it even less coming from the right. At least most of the time the leftists hearts were in the right place.

Two, rebeccablood marvelously articulated my feelings on dissent(and this is coming from me, someone who for the record supports the war) almost perfectly. I, however, would go a step further and say that voicing your dissent is a patriotic duty. If you love your country, you owe it to your fellow citizens to speak up when you feel the nation is losing it's way or can be made better.

Now onto the flag-waving excesses of late...yes, it can be a bit much and no doubt a lot of it is commercially motivated, but among the ordinary citizenry I believe it's more a way of expressing sympathy and solidarity than any kind of jingoistic agenda.

And besides, a certain amount of patriotism is a good thing. We may not always live up to our ideals as a nation, but at least we have the right ideals. And culturally, what we lack in refinement we make up for in exuberance. And more often than not, the American people as a whole do genuinely want to make the world better. And to top it all of , those four magic words-peaceful transistion of power. Most of the world has never known it, we get it every election day.

Thank you and god bless

*glory,glory...hallelujah...glory,glory...hallelujah*
posted by jonmc at 4:15 PM on January 5, 2002


And culturally, what we lack in refinement we make up for in exuberance. And more often than not, the American people as a whole do genuinely want to make the world better. And to top it all of , those four magic words-peaceful transistion of power. Most of the world has never known it, we get it every election day.

Most people don't even vote in America. We have more elections, mind you, than any other democracy besides Switzerland. But, y'know, people could bother to vote in at least the major elections, such as for president, members of Congress and major state and important local officials. Turnout is worse than pathetic and merely sad in many state and local contests. Voter turnout has been low in elections even after Sept. 11 - it was even low in Virginia, site of one of the crashes (the Pentagon).
posted by raysmj at 4:23 PM on January 5, 2002


The self loathing of the left is evident in your outright hatred of the *abtract symbol of variable meaning depending upon eye of beholder*. I don't see any outright hatred of our *abtract symbol of variable meaning depending upon eye of beholder*, but I do see an assortment of types pinning medals on their own chests while tilting at windmills of their own device. This self loathing of the left is so much received opinion--recycled Limbaughisms--as is the so-called hatred of the flag: Simple Answers for Complex Issues 101. People have not just a right but a duty to be suspicious of jingoism.
posted by y2karl at 4:29 PM on January 5, 2002


Just for the record, I'm out here on the left, and I have two little flags on either side of my driveway. I love the flag and all that it represents. What I hate is when our leaders wrap themselves in that flag on one hand and then tell me I'm not a patriot if I dissent with what they do. And I hate even more when they use that rhetoric to whip up the 75% (if not more) people in this country who consume and understand incredibly little news of the world because they are too overwhelmed by the scope of it or too lazy to care. (And speaking of rhetoric, how about that "Over my dead body" crap W. spewed out today?) Like Maher said on Larry King last night, instead of flying flags on your SUV's you should be buying energy efficient cars that would lessen our dependence on Middle East oil. There's nothing wrong with patriotism, but too often we think just waving a flag and following submissively along with what our leaders tell us to do is enough. It's not. It's not even close.
posted by willrich at 5:09 PM on January 5, 2002


I don't really see the new p.c. taking us anywhere new or different. It's just another bandwagon for people to jump on and celebrate until another, shinier bandwagon turns up. Handily enough, this particular bandwagon is on a collision course with that one for freedom of speech and diversity of ideas so everyone gets to hurl abuse at each other along the way. What more could you ask for?
posted by MUD at 5:45 PM on January 5, 2002


Most people don't even vote in America.

Ain't it the truth. I don't disagree with you. I didn't say opportunities weren't wasn't in this country, simply that they are there.
posted by jonmc at 6:41 PM on January 5, 2002


that "wasn't" should be "wasted"...as should I...maybe that breathylyzer next to the post button is not such a bad idea
posted by jonmc at 7:43 PM on January 5, 2002


The sheep seem to think they can force us into their dittohead ways.

This crap is going to look real funny in January 2005 when Bush makes that that long, last walk to the helicopter after he pardons some family thugs, uh, friends.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 8:34 PM on January 5, 2002


My grandfather fought in WWII, nam', korea, and a few other campains here and there. Him and all his friends widely agree: there is absolutely nothing wrong w/ waving your flag. Seeing the American Flag waving makes him proud that we fought for our freedom.
posted by jmd82 at 11:06 PM on January 5, 2002


You know, after the attack, as notes to the next program, I put two poems and three pictures: Bouguerau's A Soul Brought To Heaven, the only photograph of Blind Willie Johnson (well, it is a blues show) and right smack dab in the middle: Old Glory waving in the breeze.

I had my suspicions even then as to how this war would be abused to ill ends domestically but I waved the flag.

After all of the blatant commercial and jingoistic appropriations of the flag, well, I am not inclined to do so again. Especially after all the simplistic War And Peace length war good/peace bad posts & self loathing liberal trolling tripe seen here. Patriotism is not about taking shots at people not marching in step for me.
posted by y2karl at 1:09 AM on January 6, 2002


In fact, there is a law regarding the proper display of the flag. Violations used to be punished by the federal government, but now are punished by states according to their laws.

I decided not to fly a flag in part because, with my work schedule, I couldn't bring the flag in at sundown everyday or light it effectively in the parking lot. The owner's of cars with flags that are now beginning to fray are in violation of the law. If you fly one on your antenna, you are violating the law. If you don't get it out of the rain, you are breaking the law. Embroidery is a no-no, too. Every house on my block has a flag flying but mine. All of my otherwise wonderful neighbors are breaking the law. All of them are treating the flag with contempt. It drives me nuts, mainly because I learned all of this in second grade.

I'm pretty liberal and have my misgivings about the war, but it bothers me to no end that in an attempt to be "patriotic" people are desecrating the flag. The only truly "patriotic" response would be to take every desecrated flag I see and burn it. I would, but I don't want to get to know the FBI that well.

If you don't want to fly a flag, don't. If you want to fly a flag, do it right.
posted by colt45 at 1:31 AM on January 6, 2002


has anyone seen the huge US flag off the 10 freeway in Santa Monica around maybe Lincoln or Cloverfield? It's in shreds and tatters, a disgrace. Someone should do something about that.
posted by chaz at 1:39 AM on January 6, 2002


Returning to the original topic, here are two differing views of one situation. Old-style political correctness (very mildly expressed): Colbert I. King (Washington Post) "Something in the Air on Flight 363." New-style political correctness (including an endorsement of "pragmatic hypocrisy"): Jonathan Alter (Newsweek) "Polite profiling in unfriendly skies." I'm with Mr. King.
posted by Carol Anne at 9:42 AM on January 6, 2002


I certainly haven't heard it. All I've heard is "war is bad".

Perhaps this is more problem with listening then with hearing. Dozens of articles have been published suggesting alternatives to the war, so saying that no alternatives have been suggested is stretching the truth by quite a bit.

Personally, one of the things that I find frustrating is a lack of recognition that many of us here on the left are motivated not by a hatred of America what it stands for but by a deep fundamental patriotism for what America claims to stand for. The overuse and misuse of the flag bothers me perhaps because I'm still a Boy Scout at heart, (even after the organization kicked me out for my religious beliefs and sexual orientation) and the current displays of the flag seem less like an honest display of patriotism and more like a fashion statement. I suspect that many of the same people who feel so deeply offended when the flag is burned, don't feel much offense when they put the flag on their car to get showered with rock salt, grime, and water.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:54 AM on January 6, 2002


What strikes me after reading most of the posts here is that many of those on the left, the left that I am constantly told is the thinking, questioning, left, can't make an argument without throwing out rhetoric and using inflamatory language. They claim that being able to call Bush friends "thugs" or refer to anyone who wants to wave a flag a "jingoist" is simply a right to question the government. Well, I say that being cautious of our leaders, questioning them, holding them accountable is our patriotic duty. Hating people or ideologies because you don't agree with them/it is as bigoted and ignorant as your worst racist. It's one thing to parody your leaders, it's quite another to be proud of wearing a t-shirt saying "I still hate Bush". Is that the intellectual response? Is that the educated response? The response of those who preach tolerance? I hope most liberals in this country are better than many who represent themselves as liberals on this board. See, what you perceive as opposition to liberal ideals is actually opposition to the hateful way many liberals attempt to spread their message. You are the true enemy of liberalism. Right wing fanatics usually expose their ugly agenda quite clearly. Liberals fanatics have been better at masking their agenda until Sept. 11 and now have hatred exposed. If Sept 11 does nothing more than clearly define for the American public that those like Chomsky are merely left wing versions of the Pat Buchanan's of the world, I have more hope for the US today than ever before. Bigotry is bigotry. It doesn't matter is you wrap it in left or right political leanings.
posted by billman at 11:03 AM on January 6, 2002


A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest... la la la la la la la
posted by y2karl at 11:47 AM on January 6, 2002


I'm with Garry Trudeau.
posted by theora55 at 1:02 PM on January 6, 2002


The political right will capture the American flag only if we hand it to them.

Upon reflection, dhartung, that is something I can not argue with.
posted by y2karl at 3:41 PM on January 6, 2002


Speaking of capturing flags, has the flag been stolen or hijacked from one group or the other? The vast majority of people who vote Democrat never gave up the flag. Most of those folks are Average Joe and Jane American probably working a union job. Those liberals never gave up the flag. They've been waving it proudly on bumper stickers, lunch boxes, mailboxes, etc. for years. So who are we talking about? Are we talking about those who spit on the flag? Those who burned it? Those who openly mocked anybody they felt foolish enough to be proud of it? If those are the liberals we're talking about, nobody hijacked the flag from you, you gave it away.
posted by billman at 8:55 PM on January 6, 2002


...can't make an argument without throwing out rhetoric and using inflam[m]atory language.
posted by y2karl at 9:47 PM on January 6, 2002


damn since the spell checker went away
posted by billman at 11:38 PM on January 6, 2002


Well, billman, I managed to misspell just fine even when it was here. I was just correcting on principle--not to tweak. And principles, yours included, are something one should respect.
posted by y2karl at 9:03 AM on January 7, 2002


billman, whilst i agree that the use of inflammatory language can detract form an argument, i must say that that is a subjective judgement. how far would you have me go to adhere to your (PC) limitations? what words are off-limits?
also, chomsky is not a leftwing buchanan, he is a tireless, intelligent campaigner for justice and openess IMHO.
posted by asok at 7:12 AM on January 8, 2002


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