Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


I like the idea of guest-blogging. It means there's something interesting on my blog to see or read, and I don't have to do any work at all. Other than formatting everything. Okay, so almost no work at all.

So now that I have Supernatural Rabbit Scribe's permission, here's the rhetorical atomic piledriver he gave professional moron Jane Smiley [Scribe's comments in Red; I took the liberty of bolding what I thought was his best line]:


The Unteachable Ignorance of the Red States
By Jane Smiley

I say forget introspection. It's time to be honest about our antagonists. My predecessors in this conversation are thoughtful men, and I honor their ideas, but let's try something else.

Indeed, something completely asinine.

I grew up in Missouri…

like ignoramuses Mark Twain and William Faulkner.

and most of my family voted for Bush, so I am going to be the one to say it: The election results reflect the decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry. I suppose the good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 million have not.

Right. 100% of the people who voted Republican are ignorant. Got it.

Well, almost 58 million-

Oh, good- I was beginning to think you were an idiot. Glad to see the voice of moderation.

My relatives are not ignorant, they are just greedy and full of classic Republican feelings of superiority.

Yeah, I could see why you’d want to put that up on the internet. Going home for the holidays this year, Jane? A few questions: “Greedy” as in, “They work for a living?” Apart from your immediate family, any other exceptions to the “Everybody who voted Republican is ignorant” rule? Would you agree that, given the tone of this column, there might be the barest hint of irony in your reference to “classic Republican feelings of superiority?”

Ignorance and bloodlust have a long tradition in the United States, especially in the red states.

Bloodlust, no less! Presumably, the men and women on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan who voted Republican are having the time of their lives and will be heartbroken when those nations are free to determine their own destinies and our soldiers return to their homes and families? Ah, well, we can always pop New Zealand or something. You know, to satisfy the bloodlust and all. By the way, is your family consumed with bloodlust, or are they exceptional in that respect as well?

There used to be a kind of hand-to-hand fight on the frontier called a "knock-down-drag-out," where any kind of gouging, biting, or maiming was considered fair. The ancestors of today's red-state voters used to stand around cheering and betting on these fights.

This is simply unfiskable. There is no way to highlight the sheer stupidity, condescension, and bigotry of this statement any further. I hate you.

When the forces of red and blue encountered one another head-on for the first time in Kansas Territory in 1856, the red forces from Missouri, who had been coveting Indian land across the Missouri River since 1820, entered Kansas and stole the territorial election. The red news media of the day made a practice of inflammatory lying—declaring that the blue folks had shot and killed red folks whom everyone knew were walking around. The worst civilian massacre in American history took place in Lawrence, Kan., in 1862—Quantrill's raid.

Hate, hate, hate!!! Actually, the worst civilian massacre in American history took place in Manhattan on September 11th, 2001. Of course.

The red forces, known then as the slave-power,

And also known as Democrats, every man-jack of ‘em…

pulled 265 unarmed men from their beds on a Sunday morning and slaughtered them in front of their wives and children. The error that progressives have consistently committed over the years is to underestimate the vitality of ignorance in America. Listen to what the red state citizens say about themselves, the songs they write, and the sermons they flock to.

Yep- ignorance, bloodlust, and country music made me what I am today.

They know who they are—they are full of original sin and they have a taste for violence. The blue state citizens make the Rousseauvian mistake of thinking humans are essentially good, and so they never realize when they are about to be slugged from behind. Here is how ignorance works: First, they put the fear of God into you—if you don't believe in the literal word of the Bible, you will burn in hell. Of course, the literal word of the Bible is tremendously contradictory, and so you must abdicate all critical thinking, and accept a simple but logical system of belief that is dangerous to question. A corollary to this point is that they make sure you understand that Satan resides in the toils and snares of complex thought and so it is best not try it.

Yeah, my priest (mandatory eight years of higher education) must have preached his “An Active Mind is the Devil’s Playground” sermon every third Sunday when I was growing up. Sadly, few right-wing Americans have embraced the Eastern religions popular with the left, which encourage complex, critical thinking through the practice of chanting and meditation. Or something.

Next, they tell you that you are the best of a bad lot (humans, that is) and that as bad as you are, if you stick with them, you are among the chosen. This is flattering and reassuring, and also encourages you to imagine the terrible fates of those you envy and resent.

While I am at this moment imagining my hands around your throat, it hadn’t occurred to me to fantasize about you in Hell. We’ll tuck that one away for later, and thanks.

American politicians ALWAYS operate by a similar sort of flattery, and so Americans are never induced to question themselves.

“ALWAYS… never.” There’s that renowned complex, critical thinking I’ve heard so much about…

That's what happened to Jimmy Carter—he asked Americans to take responsibility for their profligate ways, and promptly lost to Ronald Reagan, who told them once again that they could do anything they wanted.

And here I thought that Carter was a Presidential train wreck who lost when Americans handed Reagan a monstrous mandate (second only to Bush in 2004) and he proceeded to save the world.

The history of the last four years shows that red state types, above all, do not what to be told what to do—they prefer to be ignorant.

Right. The opposite of “Doing what Jane Smiley tells me to do.” is “Ignorance.” Got it.

As a result, they are virtually unteachable.

I’ve learned to hate you in a matter of minutes, if that’s any encouragement.

Third, and most important, when life grows difficult or fearsome, they (politicians, preachers, pundits) encourage you to cling to your ignorance with even more fervor. But by this time you don't need much encouragement—you've put all your eggs into the ignorance basket, and really, some kind of miraculous fruition

OK, the “eggs coming to fruition” metaphor is somewhat redeeming, I must admit.

(preferably accompanied by the torment of your enemies, and the ignorant always have plenty of enemies) is your only hope. If you are sufficiently ignorant, you won't even know how dangerous your policies are until they have destroyed you, and then you can always blame others.
The reason the Democrats have lost five of the last seven presidential elections is simple: A generation ago, the big capitalists, who have no morals, as we know,

Including George Soros?

decided to make use of the religious right in their class war against the middle class and against the regulations that were protecting those whom they considered to be their rightful prey—workers and consumers. The architects of this strategy knew perfectly well that they were exploiting, among other unsavory qualities, a long American habit of virulent racism, but they did it anyway, and we see the outcome now—Cheney is the capitalist arm and Bush is the religious arm. They know no boundaries or rules. They are predatory and resentful, amoral, avaricious, and arrogant.

This could be your big break, Jane! The Daily Worker is on the phone and they want to talk long-term, exclusive contract!

Lots of Americans like and admire them because lots of Americans, even those who don't share those same qualities, don't know which end is up. Can the Democrats appeal to such voters? Do they want to? The Republicans have sold their souls for power. Must everyone?Progressives have only one course of action now: React quickly to every outrage—red state types love to cheat and intimidate, so we have to assume the worst and call them on it every time.

Indeed- why not sue a person or persons unknown over the 2006 Idaho election results today?

We have to give them more to think about than they can handle—to always appeal to reason and common sense, and the law, even when they can't understand it and don't respond. They cannot be allowed to keep any secrets.

Oh, please don’t publish that bed-wetting incident from when I was five!

Tens of millions of people didn't vote—they are watching, too, and have to be shown that we are ready and willing to fight, and that the battle is worth fighting. And in addition, we have to remember that threats to democracy from the right always collapse. Whatever their short-term appeal, they are borne of hubris and hatred, and will destroy their purveyors in the end.

I would cover myself in barbeque sauce and dive naked into a shark tank with a smile on my face and a song in my heart if it would somehow cause your lingering, painful death.