…even though they REALLY don’t know you
On Wednesday, April 5, Alex Pareene saddled up his high horse, Lefty, and excreted the steaming pile that is “The Long, Lucrative Right-wing Grift Is Blowing Up in the World’s Face”. That stercoraceous metaphor is particularly apt given Pareene’s penchant for peppering his monologue with scatological references in a desperate quest to be oh-so-edgy; that he comes off as a ten-year-old among adults is unfortunate for him, since that likely isn’t the look he wanted.
Pareene’s instrument for venting his spleen is Fusion, part of the new-media conglomeration that includes deceptively innocuous sites like lifehacker and Gizmodo, along with brazenly-leftist sites such as Jezebel and Deadspin, at the last of which may be found the scholarly “Look At This F**king A**hole” (NSFW, if you couldn’t tell), totally not a piece of ridiculous clickbait. Deadspin is also the site that got pwned not so long ago by Senator Ted Cruz in a Twitter dustup.
The central theme of Pareene’s piece — if a theme can be detected in such a rambling tirade — is probably that the American Right has lied to and incited its base (all those stupid, angry old white guys) for so long that a clueless, reactionary president was the unavoidable eventual result. Pareene’s obvious implication is that it’s only the Right that riles up its base; no member of the virtuous Left would even contemplate such irresponsible behavior.
The irony in Pareene’s utter lack of self-awareness is mind-blowing. His own piece, the one decrying rightist sensationalism and outrage is, itself, an exercise in pure incitement. It contains no persuasion; he isn’t trying to win hearts or minds. It has no supporting arguments (much less facts); he isn’t attempting to prevail in a debate. No, his intended audience is the already-converted, readers who will unquestioningly accept a goes-without-saying narrative that wastes no time with trying to be convincing. And how is his piece meant to affect such devoted leftists? Shock! Outrage! #Resist! Fire in a crowded theater! Gratuitously signal your virtue!
Such a dearth of mirror-looking is only to be expected when your political values spring from equal parts smug condescension and intellectual laziness; the mote in the evil other side’s collective eye is ever so much more interesting and troubling than the beams in your own side’s peeper. If Pareene ever actually takes a step back from his self-deluded sanctimony, his world will come crashing down.
Chief among the mistakes in Pareene’s piece is the way he attempts to lump everyone and everything on the right into a single, strongly-bound entity. There’s more to this than Pareene’s provincialist “Them dang furiners all look alike!” xenophobia. The American Right prizes and encourages individuality; this is often a major disadvantage when it comes to marshaling political will in order to accomplish real-world results. In contrast, the Left enforces strict homogeneity, firing quick warning shots across the bow whenever anyone strays slightly from leftist orthodoxy, and publicly burning apostates at the stake as gory examples of what you’d better not even think about doing. Remain true to the cause, don’t make enemies of the wrong people, and you’ll be defended — often beatified — long after you’re dead. Anything less might harm the cause itself.
The Right is nowhere near so cohesive. There are exceptions, but no amount of loyalty to party or cause is likely to save you if you have real issues with your character, ethics, or honesty (with an obvious waiver for the breaking of campaign promises; folks on the right are suckers for a good campaign promise, the unlikelier the better).
It’s uncertain whether Pareene’s misconception stems from an inadvertent disregard of the admonition to “know thine enemy,” or from willful ignorance for the purpose of painting the Right the way his readership already sees it, a mirror complement of the Left’s pieties of groupthink and realpolitik. Understanding is time-consuming and difficult; projection is quick and easy.
“The rubes listened to talk radio, read right-wing blogs, watched Fox News. They were fed apocalyptic paranoia about threats to their liberty, racial hysteria about the generalized menace posed by various groups of brown people, and hysterical lies about the criminal misdeeds of various Democratic politicians.”
How difficult is it to write this kind of thing about any given group of people? Turns out it’s easy:
“The rubes listened to NPR, read Fusion, Jezebel, Deadspin, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Mother Jones, etc. ad nauseam, watched MSNBC. They were fed apocalyptic paranoia about threats to their government entitlements, racial hysteria about the intrinsic majesty of diversity and multiculturalism, and hysterical lies about the criminal misdeeds of various Republican politicians.”
Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. No sweat was broken, and enough leftist silliness was held in reserve that we could go on for a good, long while without any fear of repetition.
“They put their faith in a fairly traditional conservative orthodoxy: That you can use the levers of power to quietly enrich your friends and their firms, while pleasing the masses with some combination of tax cuts, loud proclamations of religiosity, and a modest, popular war or two.”
Has this guy seriously never heard of Barack “Mr. Cronyism” Obama? Is empowering and enriching unions and union bosses somehow more virtuous than enriching private-sector friends? More than that, cronyism has no place in true “conservative orthodoxy,” since a free market of voluntary, private transactions is the conservative ideal. Before we get close to the neighborhood of actual cronyism, conservatism abhors the concept of government picking winners and losers, even when it’s only the equivalent of the lightest of fingers on the scale.
The last part of the quote immediately above can, once again, be easily rewritten to illustrate the asininity of Pareene’s mischaracterization of the Right: “…while pleasing the masses with some combination of raising taxes on the rich, loud proclamations of support for a woman’s right to choose abortion, and a modest, popular class or race war or two.”
From the number of times Pareene used some form of the word “conservatism,” it’s obvious he thinks he knows what it means, but it’s equally obvious he is wrong. Words have meaning, and he doesn’t get to redefine terms at will to suit his personal worldview. Pareene should stick to his strong suit, cross-species anal-retentiveness.