by Marion Watts on Thursday, 13 January 2011 at 12:11. Right, come the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November 2012, I hope to take up arms with my laptop, sitting here in merry old England, and exercise my Constitutional right as an American citizen. No, I'm not going to beat the elderly Queen about the head with my computer, not even Prince Charles, although I admit I'd quite like to give a resounding bitch slap to that smirky, little twerp, George Osborne, who I reckon happens to be Eric Cantor's brother, from whom he was separated at birth.
I simply mean that I'm going to vote in the next Presidential election, because, according to Sarah Palin, today's rhetorical meaning of "taking up arms" means voting; and, after all, Palin's a wordsmith, right? I mean, who'd argue with "refudiate?"
Silly me. Here I thought "taking up arms" meant ... well, taking up arms, arming yourself for some sort of conflict, the way the French Resistance did when the Nazis invaded France; but I suppose that's a different place, a different time and a different meaning - like years ago, during the English Restoration of the Seventeenth Century, the only time a woman or a girl was referred to as "Miss" indicated that she was a member of the oldest profession, as in "'tis a pity she's a whore."
So I guess "taking up arms" really means "voting" because Palin says it does.
And I suppose Robert Gibbs's referral to the "Professional Left" really didn't mean those people who espouse a Liberal or Progressive point of view and get paid by a corporation or an entity for propagating that Left-of-centre viewpoint, either in print or via the media of television or radio. Since I'm a linguist and that's a profession, and since I'm pretty Leftist, I guess that means me. Since my cousin's an unskilled worker and he's Leftist too, I guess that means he. I suppose you can be professionally unskilled. I didn't know that the entire populace, hoi polloi, plebosphere who lean Left were entirely professional, but I'll take Ed Schultz's interpretation of it because Big Ed's on television, and he should know, right?
And when Michele Bachman makes a clarion call for all her constituents to be "armed and dangerous in the streets," she really means she wants them to be politically aware. Gee, I guess my 82 year-old aunt must be causing quite a sensation in the little hamlet where I was raised. I've never met a more politically astute person in my life, so I guess the local police department/sheriff's office must be kept pretty busy keeping her in line, since she's always been "armed and dangerous in the streets" (even though we've only got one state route which passes through the village).
Then there's the question of socialists and Nazis. Just who are they in today's political climate? I thought Silvio Berlusconi was pretty damned close to being a Nazi, without actually saying that he was (which is illegal in Italy), but it seems that Barack Obama is a socialist and George W Bush is a Nazi, depending on which political persuasion you follow. Or maybe Barack Obama is the Nazi and George W Bush is the socialist, if you're Ann Coulter. Who knows?
All I know is that a Democratic Congresswoman is critically injured, and six people - including a Federal judge, a 30 year-old Congressional aide and a 9 year-old child - are dead because a disturbed person, who may or may not have been influenced by the extreme rhetoric of violence which seems to be the acceptable norm for political discourse on one side of the political equation these days. The alleged assailant did, however, appear to have rather eclectic reading tastes, which seem, upon initial examination, to lean rightwards into the realm of Glenn Beckistan, but no one's blaming Beck.
No one's really blaming anyone in particular, even though Sarah Palin seems to think that everyone on the Left is blaming her and is acting the victim anyway for whatever purpose. Hey, Sarah, nobody's blaming you, but if you suddenly take down your Congressional Target Practice map, listing 20 Democratic Congressional seats represented as targets in firearms' crosshairs within an hour after this attempted assassination of a government official-cum-massacre of various private citizens, you're really showing somewhat of a cover-your-ass mentality, aren't you? Normally, I'd say "guilty conscience," but I would iimagine that "guilt" isn't a concept with which you're familiar, and I doubt you have anything reasonably resembling a conscience.
I actually agree with various voices on the Right, shouting that we should blame the shooter, but that doesn't mean that this tragic incident shouldn't prompt us to look closely at the extreme and often irrational dialogue that's been bandied about all over the place from the bureacracy to the blogosphere for the past two years. From "anchor babies" on the Right to "public option" on the Left, hands UP, who hasn't got a headache from the shouting, the hatred and the vitriol?
As the late James Brown said, "Big mouths say nothing."
They might not say anything, but they sure do cause deep and probably impenetrable rifts. The talking heads act as our cheerleaders, ratcheting the volume of dialogue up to fever pitch, then lighting their Havana cigars, chortling mercilessly and walking away to their seven-figure corporate salaries whilst the plebs snark and bicker amongst themselves.
Insult is traded with insult. People revel in argumentum ad hominem, especially when it comes to referring to the President. The worst the last Democratic President had to endure in this respect was being called "Bubba" consistently by the likes of the late Tim Russert, scion of the Beltway media establishment. (Well, karma even has a way of biting a dead man's ass, Big Tim; after all, your legacy has been David Gregory in the MTP chair and your ineffectually trivial son pretending to be NBC's nepotistic Capitol Hill correspondent). The worst Jimmy Carter had to endure from said media was being labelled a Cracker.
The current President is treated with derision and disrespect by both sides of the political equation. The Right seek to ostracize him in the eyes of their so-called base by emphasizing how "different" he is to previous occupants of the Oval Office, and they're hardly subtle in indicating why he shouldn't be there. (Are you listening, Birthers?) The Tea Party, that lovechild of Libertarians crossed with John Birchers and delivered by the Koch Brothers, has cornered the market in vitriol on that subject.
The Left treat the President with scorn and condescension, almost implying that he's an idiot, incapable of walking down the street and chewing gum at the same time. They're over-solicitous to the point of patronising when they obsess about what he's going to say before he says it, then jump in, feet-first in mouth, with intense criticism, five seconds after he's said it. Second-guessing is a way of life.
And at various times, to both sides, he's painted as an elitist. The Right say he's unAmerican, and the Left say he's weak. Worse than weak, he's been labelled an "appeaser" and a "quisling" for compromises he's made. People on the right call him an idiot and want to "knock some sense" into him. People on the Left call him a "pussy" on national television.
Some on the Right refer to him as an anti-colonial Kenyan, but we get the gist. And we get the gist when people on the Left take to referring to the President as the "Affirmative Action President" or, simply, "the house nigger." Suffice it to say, the latter are the ones whose voices are the most strident in favour of redacting the n-word from Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn."
But I suppose Newt Gingrich didn't mean anything racial when he made the Kenyan remark, and I'm sure Bill Maher wasn't stereotyping the President as ghetto superbad and violent when he remarked that he wanted a "real" black President who was a gangsta who'd open his jacket to the Congress and Cabinet to reveal a concealed weapon on his body ... as in "gun" and nothing phallic.
I'm beginning to be confused as to when euphemism became plain speech, and plain speech came to be explained away as harmless euphemism, but it seems to me that the Republicans have become increasingly more recalcitrant whenever there's a Democratic incumbent in the White House, and the Democrats are simply frustrated that, for all their elite Left Coastal and Northeastern credentials, the only candidates who've successfully made it to the White House on their ticket in the past 35 years have been two Bubbas and a black man.
And that's really what's fueling all this ire in America at the moment, from Capitol Hill to the most rural of boondocks: The Right can't stand the thought of a black man in the White House, who isn't there to serve drinks, and the Left can't abide the fact that there's a black man in the White House, who's smarter than everybody else and the only adult in town, much less in the room.
Happy New Year.