RANGER AGAINST WAR: Ducks Trois Gras <

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ducks Trois Gras

 True peace is not a balance of opposing forces.
It is not a lovely facade which conceals conflicts and divisions.
Peace calls for daily commitment. 
--Urbi et Orbi, Pope Francis

What are you rebelling against?
What do you got? 
--The Wild One (1953)

 The program of the Two Minutes Hate
varied from day to day, but there was none
in which Goldstein was not the principal figure 
--1984, George Orwell 

That is just the way with some people.
They get down on a thing when they
don’t know nothing about it
 --Mark Twain, 
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

RangerAgainstWar is a military and political blog. However, to study the military involves more than surveying tactics and missions -- these actions occur in a gestalt. We believe that until the impulse to war is recognized as emanating from within man, we can expect continued strife, misery and destruction.

In this final Duck call, we ask: From whence this tempest-in-a-beer mug? Is it about something, or absolutely nothing? In Robert Reich's documentary, "Inequality For All", former Republican Senator (WY) Alan Simpson notes that in the near political past, we had "adversaries"; now we have "enemies". Reich observed this anger and polarization accompanies times of economic upheaval.

So, was the recent liberal attack on the t.v. Duck clan just another iteration of this generalized agitation? It is certainly not rational for citizens in a democracy to attack a fellow for his religious beliefs or expression of his life experiences, no matter how wrong-headed or foolish one may find them to be. Freedom of religion is sacrosanct (unless you're a Branch Davidian, but that's another matter.)

Part of the problem is the odd confluence of Reality Programming (which is not) and entertainment "news" meeting the simulacrum of ourselves on our social networking platforms. The smash-up is not pretty. Both are constructed realities, and like Narcissus we are so enamored of our reflections both in our choice of programming and our constructed antipodes that we are now living this "Second Life" AS IF -- as if it were real, as if it mattered, as if we can slake off our fears of irrelevance via the ire that we project into cyberspace.

The Duck brew-ha-ha revealed that we are a people who watch (non) reality programs and entertainment masquerading as news who then regurgitate our emotions about these fluffy things onto our created social platforms, our ersatz selves. Is Facebook and our blog villages to be our "event horizon"?

 Well, for me, this is blogtopia's Jump the Shark moment. We started the blog with an idea that intelligent, open-minded people would find Ranger, like a watering hole in an oasis, and there would be an efflorescence of democracy here. Instead, I find myself defending the utterances of a t.v. show family against the madding throng, the liberal intelligentsia that proves itself wanting on the issues of free speech. One does not grow up to think one might have to do such a thing.  

In our hyperreality, people think if they have a reaction to something, it merits being tweeted and read, emotion becoming an itch needing to be scratched versus something to be pondered. We seek "followers" who "like" and "friend" us, a clannish project if it ever was one.

So the evolved non-theists among us find themselves in the perverse position of seeking praise for crucifying a redneck for sins he did not commit, because his beliefs indict the primitive in us all. This is laughable, were it not tragic. This is Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery", 2014-style. It is Greek ostracism, and there is no place for this insularity under cover of Progressivism in a robust society.

As gay feminist Camile Paglia says, “In a democratic country, people have the right to be homophobic as well as they have the right to support homosexuality — as I one hundred percent do. If people are basing their views against gays on the Bible, again they have a right of religious freedom there.”

Paglia calls the public lashing out at the Ducks (besides being laughable) "punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist that my liberal colleagues in the Democratic Party and on college campuses have supported and promoted over the last several decades. This is the whole legacy of free speech 1960’s that have been lost by my own party.”

“I think that this intolerance by gay activists toward the full spectrum of human beliefs is a sign of immaturity, juvenility. This is not the mark of a true intellectual life. This is why there is no cultural life now in the U.S. Why nothing is of interest coming from the major media in terms of cultural criticism. Why the graduates of the Ivy League with their A, A, A+ grades are complete cultural illiterates, etc. is because they are not being educated in any way to give respect to opposing view points.”

Was Mr. Duck being "UnChristian" in paraphrasing Christian doctrine? Christianity qua Christianity is "unChristian"! It is a sort of absurd Mobius strip for liberals who argue for inclusivity to exclude a believer.

What we have with Mr. Duck is Christians, atheists and others flushing Mr. Duck out for being Christian, and giving his program publicity they could not buy. Do you want gays and blacks to have equal civil rights in your society? Then you better be willing to allow Mr. Duck his, for he is no less than or greater than any other man.

Instead, we clan-up in  virtual "flash mob" in a moment's notice to crucify the outcast du jour. We develop a template for doing so, handily ejecting the last cause celebre for the next, in perpetuity, like a house of mirrors. It has become imperative to participate in Orwell's "Two Minute Hate" as self-definition, to show we care. The subject is fungible, and the best of us are falling prey to facile dichotomies, leaving nuance behind in the service of immediacy.

All who participate in the social network have become citizen journalists, sans the necessary disinterest to report the data factually. The online commentariat demands instantaneous response. In a perversion of the Cartesian imperative to be reflective, it is now, "I am read, therefore, I exist."

Perhaps the phenomenon of instantaneous anger towards someone like the Ducks was described by Sasha Issenberg's takedown of New York Times editorialist David Brooks:

Blue Americans have heard so much about Red America, and they've always wanted to see it. But Blue Americans don't take vacations to places like Galveston and Dubuque. They like to watch TV shows like The Simpsons and Roseanne, where Red America is mocked by either cartoon characters or Red Americans themselves, so Blue Americans don't need to feel guilty of condescension. Blue Americans are above redneck jokes, but they will listen if a sociologist attests to the high density of lawnbound-appliances-per-capita in flyover country. They need someone to show them how the other half lives, because there is nothing like sympathy for backwardness to feed elitism. A wrong turn in Red America can be dangerous: They might accidentally find Jesus or be hit by an 18-wheeler. It seems reasonable to seek out a smart-looking fellow who seems to know the way and has a witty line at every point. Blue Americans always travel with a guide (Booboos in Paradise).

The hatred and disdain rained down upon the Duck character's utterances on his religion and his experience working with black people was ridiculous. It does, however, show the intolerant ridge runner in so many of us. We are learned bilious people who have traded blunderbusses for the keypad. If we do not understand the absurdity and incorrectness of such tirades, we have little hope of concilience on any grander topics that affect us, much less any hope of reaching a concord with anyone anywhere else.

The Duck's Christianity is nothing new. See Chris Hitchen's God is Not Great for the scope of the problem: he sought true believers, but people pick and choose, which is not what believing is all about. But inasmuch as people do believe (and we are the most believing developed nation), Mr. Duck was spouting a stock take on Christianity. He has the right of freedom of religion. Believe or not; listen or not. That is all. Full stop.

{Just because we're here, I will do my personal Duck riff soon, sure to raise some hackles.}

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