Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What the fuck: [a reply to Todd Gitlin at TPM. Link now to archive.org]
I was more saddened by my mother's death than I would be when I read about a stranger's death in a newspaper. This is not an acknowledgment of any moral difference between the two, there is none. The difference is only in the physical and emotional fact of proximity: we care more for what we know. A philosophy of patriotism is the ideology of the morality of proximity, of US and THEM.
Patriotism may be a political necessity of weak states. It is not a moral value, let alone an intellectual one.
And are we weak?

This country has been dealing knowingly with Wahhabism for decades. The world did not change on September 11th. I have no friends who did not expect something to happen at some point in the near future. Airplanes were a surprise. And nobody assumed the terrorists- the neo-Jacobins would be Islamic (or even that they would be neo-Jacobins). But I was not surprised to hear after the fact that a million were cheering.

I was not cheering. Watching the second tower fall, from the Pulaski Bridge between Long Island City and Greenpoint -and thinking the towers were falling together- I thought I was watching the death of 50,000 people. My knees gave out.
I'm sick of protestations of wounded ignorance. I'm sick of the passivity of the morally superior. Gitlins' post is ludicrous.
Think how to communicate to the citizens of the most powerful nation in history that they missed an opportunity when the vast majority of the people in the world were on their side and wishing them well after 9-11. How do you describe the stupidity in the arrogance of the wounded giant, to the giant himself?

If you want to be an intellectual, think.

Imagine how working class people in Brooklyn associate liberals with respect for the working man as idea but contempt for him as flesh, as the workingmens' homes are sold out from under them to gentrifying democrats. Modern liberals are the velvet glove on the iron fist of Reaganomics. Do you think Gitlin's dreamings are any better- to paraphrase the title of a chapter in a book I have not read- than the anti-politics of any professor of cultural studies? 
The American left is made up of priests who talk only to priests, or to the most committed of the faithful. That's nothing more than another form of anti-politics.
I'm sick of idiots.

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