On Red Meat and Granola

Wanted to share something that I caught linked in this MetaFilter post about Occupy Wall Street a few days ago. Originally I was going to just have this as a quick one-off to pass it along, because it made me re-evaluate a few prejudices of mine and take a second look at some of the cultural and economic issues in my country that tempt me to become one of those guys who walk around with a sandwich board, muttering into a bullhorn.

I’m still going to do this as a short-ish one, but it’s no longer the standalone one-off I first expected it to be. Don’t want to get into it too much yet, but I’d previously written a post about intelligence and then spent a couple of days writing a post about fear that I pretty much figured I’d never publish.

Well, then I read something yesterday that jabbed at my forebrain more than a little. It was a speech, a speech I’ll share with you soon, and it tied together that bumf on intelligence and this splorp on the culture war and that thing about fear that was never going to see the light of day, and my perspective shifted, just a little. Something clicked, there was what I’ll call a brief moment of ohhhhhh, and suddenly I discovered words for a few things that had been rattling around in the back of the cupboard for a while.

So I’m going to rewrite that next one, and while I figure out how to do that, I’ll link you to Tim Kreider’s[1] open letter to the Tea Party, something I found to be one of the few sane and honest appraisals of the Tea Party/Occupy Wall Street divide I’ve come across. A few snippets:

The only consensus in this country, the one thing absolutely no one on any side will dispute, is that things are fucked up, and no one in power seems to be even trying to do anything to fix them. It seems to me the main difference between conservatives and liberals anymore is that you blame The Government and we blame Corporations. It’s past time we noticed that those two antagonists are literally the same people. They’re frat brothers and golf buddies and they go back and forth from corporate boards to government regulatory agencies and back. Wall Street donates money to political campaigns so that the government will use our tax money to bail them out when they cheat and make bad gambles and crash the economy. Meanwhile we’re distracted fighting among ourselves, having the political equivalent of the “Tastes great!/Less filling!” debate.

Look: I’m not pretending to like you, and I don’t expect you to pretend to like me…. We have radically different ideas about the kind of country we want this to be…. But we also have a lot in common, if you think about it; we’re both considered “extremists” for fighting for what seems to us like common sense and decency; and we both care passionately about what kind of country we want to live in….

So you can go on sneering at all those smelly, spoiled little trust-fund hippies whining for a handout, and we can go on shaking our heads at all you obese suburban rednecks who’re too dumb to know when you’ve been swindled, and in a few weeks it’ll get cold and the protests will dwindle or disperse, or the national media will just get distracted by some other, shinier story, and we’ll all forget this ever happened and go back to business as usual. If business as usual is what you want.

Fairly sobering take on things. The whole thing’s worth a full read.

  1. If you are remotely easy to offend or do not like jokes about conservatives, stay out of his comics. You have been warned.