Over the last few months, every gathering, every cultural clash, in the crannies of science fiction culture so hidden that only we, the crazy people, care about them, or in national culture, I keep hearing “but then wasn’t like now. Now it’s all crazy” or “Now things are so polarized” or “Now–”
Okay. Part of the reason things are now so polarized is that before dissenting voices were isolated. You couldn’t speak up, because there was no network of alternative news. Say, Benghazi, for instance (yes, we still remember it on the anniversary) in the old days we’d never have known anything but that government officials had gone on all the stations and sworn that it was because of an anti-islam video. Who is crazy enough to doubt that, when all the authorities say the same? They should know, right? And if we doubted that we’d say nothing, because who wants people to think they’re crazy.
So there was consensus. A manufactured, uneasy consensus. A consensus that the new technology started shattering.
The shattering would have happened, anyway. But for many of us the shattering started on 9/11. Perhaps particularly for my generation, then at the pinnacle of responsible adulthood, many of us with small children. We grew up in an era of uniform news. We grew up in an era of assuming that history came with an arrow, and that arrow pointed left.
I think 9/11 was the first time I realized most of the voices on the left were as friggin’ loony as a college campus. (And that’s saying a lot.)
I think the rubble hadn’t settled before prominent I-always-thought-you-were-sane leftists started telling us it was all our fault, that we had oppressed them poor browns peoplez until they had no choice but hitting us.
And how these people thought this “oppression” took place passed by the center of their misapprehension of free minds and free markets, which they thought were “oppressive.”
If you listened carefully you could hear beneath those the foreshadowing of the present call for safe rooms and the insistence freedom was slavery.
I don’t think I was the only who stepped back and went “Wait, these people are supposed to be sane!” and then started analyzing everything they said, and discovering unpleasant things like that my generation many of us, (like the president — not me. I’m the youngest child, my parents are older ) had this strange idea that wars stopped when the US stopped fighting and that this was a good thing, because of course there were no consequences to stopping fighting. The other side wouldn’t take it as unconditional surrender.
What came home to roost in American consciousness watching the reactions to 9/11 was the realization that a lot of people in positions of power and influence were barking mad and had the historical understanding of a weevil. (With apologies to weevils.) They seemed to have derived all their knowledge of history from the protest songs of the sixties and supermarket tabloids.
Fifteen years later, we face an election between typhus and smallpox, and we can’t walk into any cultural arena without starting to scream at each other.
I’m here to tell you these are the good news. No, I am serious. Consider how barking mad the aristos have gone. Imagine they had NO opposition.Imagine that the media and the culture were still a big megaphone and a bunch of voiceless people. Imagine how much further from reality they’d have gone by now.
The fight isn’t easy. Not nearly enough of us woke up to make it so. But that we are fighting at all, those are the good news, even if some people woke up yesterday and decided that either typhus or smallpox was whom we needed for president.
That part shall pass. Like kidney stones, it might pass bloodily and with a great deal of pain, leaving damage behind. But it too shall pass.
The bad part is that unresolved in our national psyche is the wound in NY, now covered with a “memorial. tower” of sorts (no, I don’t agree. We should have rebuilt the twin towers, and we should have done them higher, stronger, less likely to suffer from an attack, because engineered against it. Yes, we can. And if you’re a liberal and are going to tell me that that would be an insult to the world — why? The united Arab Emirates keep building higher and higher. Do we consider it an insult? No? Then why do they care if we have a pony?) remains open. Half of America wants to cringe and apologize, because they thing everything that goes wrong in the world is America’s fault. It’s a magnificent sort of hubris, if you think about it, that denies the underdeveloped countries they claim to care about full agency or autonomous culture. It denies people-of-tan agency and autonomous ability to decide. It is in fact, closely examined, exactly the opposite of what the left claims to believe. And it would be funny if it weren’t so horribly sad.
The bad part is the people who had their lives cut short, Americans and guests who died because our elites were so out of touch with reality that they did things like erect a secrecy wall between the FBI and the CIA, because the sixties radicals couldn’t imagine those services might do anything but “conspire” against them.
The bad part is our aristos still being convinced that calling terrorism by other names (Work place violence was catchy. As was Man made disaster. May G-d have mercy on our souls) will make it go away.
Things are going to get weirder — in a Ripley’s believe it or not way — till this is resolved. Not just in government, but in the culture and on the streets.
This morning finds me in NYC (Yeah, I know, I should have told you earlier, but look, this trip we REALLY could not have met with you. I’m booked every minute of the day. We managed a hurried lunch with one of those friends-who-are-family before the workshop started, and we haven’t yet managed to see the blood family (my husband’s) even in passing, though he spent most of yesterday on text trying to coordinate it. If there’s a next time. If it’s in NYC. If they invite me. If we’re better off financially (as we’ll be if I am actually working, now we’re done moving and the thyroid is being balanced) perhaps we can afford to come a few days earlier or stay a few days later, because I WOULD like to meet some of you and go to lunch or have a Huns dinner. I promise even if there is no workshop I’ll try to have enough money for us to come up for a week.
But not this year. This year is so bad we’re flying back on 9/11. And you guys know I don’t engage in bravado with you. Yeah, I shouldn’t be afraid. Yeah, I am afraid. Because our airport kabuki fails to reassure.
However, rest assured, today I’ll make no memorial trip (no time.) And I’m not close enough to any landmarks that anything short of an atom bomb will get me.
It’s still weird being in NYC on 9/11. And this keeps running through my head:
A glooming peace this morning with it brings.The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head.Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things.Some shall be pardoned, and some punishèd.