Late Night: The Other Side of Civility
So, last week I explained — remarkably politely, I thought — why I think it is perfectly all right to say "fuck" when you are treating with sociopaths who sincerely believe that the war in Iraq was a smart move strategically, or that global warming is a hoax, or that there is such a thing as "liberal fascism," or that ABC News is run by Howard Dean, or that torture makes sense as a matter of American policy and isn’t morally disgusting, or that gays and lesbians are not entitled to equal rights as Americans. (This is, you understand, a partial list only.) See, I’m not even sure why disagreeing with such people even ought to be considered a matter of engaging in serious argument in the first place. It ought to be a matter of informing a bunch of lunatics that they are totally fucking bananas. Movement conservatism has gone flat earth, and there is not much more to say about it.
But it has always been this way, even in the darkest days of the Bushite Ascendancy, those awful years of 2001-2005 when the conventional wisdom was nothing but madness. Back then you could say anything in America, no matter how crazy, and it would be true and would have to be believed. But the thing is, it was still, you know, crazy.
This presented a problem for conservatives, because they were saying things that were on their face ridiculous by any objective standard, but which they themselves took deadly seriously and which they fully expected others to take seriously also. The issue was — and to a large degree still is — how to talk absolute batshit goofy crap and still come across as not, well, insane.
So how did they solve this dilemma? Oooh go see… Well, first, through the simple expedient of not saying "fuck."
But then they also try something else. They do this. Here are some examples of things that they say. See if you can spot the problems with this approach. Here, let us quiz you!
Patriotic indignation should swell against this oppression. Under its influence, the public mind of the Republic may have no compass over the character, the origins, the antiquity, the variations and predecents, of the war being made against us. Friends, it is an oppression — a crippling and dangerous one. We invent new euphemisms to conceal the facts virtually every day; we invent them because, as Chesterton aptly put it, short words startle us while long words sooth us. Sen. John McCain, for instance, is said to be a hawk on the war on terror. For him the enemy is a comically redundant string of emotional descriptors: “radical Islamic extremism.” My personal favorite is the talent of our sheepish writers for piling on suffixes. The enemy becomes “Islamicism”; whatever is necessary to rhetorically distance him from the Islamic religion as such. The purpose of these lengthy phrases is not to properly identify and understand the enemy; it is to sooth the distressed conscience of Liberalism.
Jeff Martin (Maximos) insouciantly repudiates the immoral swindle of consent, according to which he owes some measure of loyalty to the liberal political and social regime under which he has lived, offering him, as it has, the shelter of its laws. He finds that this swindle is an obstacle to his self-actualization as a reactionary, and the actualization of the self is what the liberal bargain claims to be about, is it not?
He accounts himself unworthy of the company in which he finds himself, and the of domestic felicities which he enjoys with his wife and two young sons. He is a lifelong resident of the greater Philadelphia area, and a fan of the local sports franchises, which may account for his affinity for lost and futile causes. He attended Cedarville College (now a University!), from which he earned a BA in philosophy, and would even have graduated summa cum laude had his alma mater believed in the Latin language.
He believes that, however good things may be today, they were surely better yesterday, and takes solace in the fact that, however bad things may seem for the traditionalist at present, they could always be worse. Nevertheless, mindful of the fact that no cause is ever truly lost because none is ever truly won, he holds forth the hope that, as the passional aspect of human nature must be held in subjection by the rational, so also may the liberal tendency one day be governed to its proper measure by the traditional, the historical principle of reason.
They make like their 18th century wigs are powdered in the finest cocaine, that’s what.