Ideology Above All

I’m starting to understand why Michele of A Small Victory doesn’t blog about politics anymore.

It seems as though there is a segment of the population whose complete hatred of Bush has overwhelmed any sense of rationality or decency. It’s becoming almost cultlike – you can’t read through the comments on a Fark thread without a gratuitous slam of the President – even if it’s completely off topic. And of course, it’s always a complete ad hominem.

This sort of behavior may be bad enough, but when it comes down to someone using someone’s death as an opportunity to engage in an anti-Bush ad hominem a line of basic decency has been crossed. It is the triumph of ideology over common sense and human decency.

As I’ve mentioned before, there’s something disturbingly totalitarian about this kind of attitude. 99% of the people who make these claims know nothing about politics. They get their news from outlets like The Daily Show. They’ve been told that Richard Clarke is some kind of brave truth-teller, but they don’t know what he actually said. The only information they get is filtered through the ideological lens of the popular media – instead of reading Samuel Huntington, Robert Kaplan, or Francis Fukuyama their ideas come from pseudo-“intellectuals” like Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky. Words like “hegemony” and “authoritarianism” are thrown around without even so much as an inkling of a clue as to their actual meaning. They sound cool, so they’re bandied about, debasing the currency of their real meaning.

There are those who have legitimate and informed arguments against the war in Iraq and other policies. Sadly, their voices are being drowned out in a sea of simpleminded hatred.

Without an informed and civil body politic, a democracy is doomed to degenerate into a mere mob. I fear this is what is happening in America today. The politics of personal destruction, practiced for too long by both sides, is reaching its inevitable result – a nation in which one side cannot even acknowledge the legitimacy of the other. There is a difference between legitimate, informed, and respectful discourse and outright flaming – yet few seem to understand or care as to what it is.

Is this merely a function of an overheated election year? One can hope – and thankfully the polls show that many voters are actively disgusted with this kind of behavior. However, the damage to our body politic is difficult to measure – there are many who are so sick of politics that they want nothing to do with it – and even after years of studying and pursuing politics in the field I can understand such an attitude all too well.

We will get the kind of government we create – and any party, be it Democrat, Republican, or otherwise, that is willing to provide an apologia for tyranny, smear the honorable dead, or place ideology above the most basic standards of decency isn’t being patriotic – they’re unraveling the very fabric of democracy through careless thoughts and words.

3 thoughts on “Ideology Above All

  1. I wouldn’t lump Chomsky with Moore. Chomsky is an intellectual, and as a linguist he has been invaluable to his field. That is indisputable. Chomsky should stop commenting on american foreign policy. He’ll make the occasional astute point (like discussing that the first man to pay George H.W. Bush an official visit was Africa’s worst kleptocrat Mobutu Sisoko) but has become more and more detached from the reality of what goes into foreign politics. This renders him a man whom I have very mixed feelings about. But I agree on these blog comentators that get their crap from Moore, they are definetly bringing an anti-intellectual strain to the left, although one could argue it was there all along. I’ll stick with being an independent as both parties are dominated by people who detest divergent views. But on the web, it’s clearly the left who are far more guilty of indulging in hatred of those who oppose them.

  2. Using Moore, Franken, Chomsky, Vidal and their like to represent liberal journalists and intelligentsia is about as cogent as using Coulter, Hannity and Savage to represent conservatives. I consider myself a liberal, and I read quite a few works by liberals in journalism, philosophy, ethics, and current affairs- and I don’t touch Chomsky or Vidal, and I don’t take Franken or Moore seriously. My authors of choice are Thomas Friedman, Fareed Zakaria, Christopher Hitchens, Ken Wilber, Mark Hertsgaard, Peter Singer, Don Beck, Chris Cowan… of course, many of these folks are more “center” than “left”, and many were at least reluctant supporters of the war in Iraq. But the critique still stands- there are smart, pragmatic liberals out there, and to bash Chomsky and Moore is to pound on a straw man.

  3. Read the first line of the famous Patton speech. 1944 was an election year.

    It has ever been thus.

    It is the fight to be the alpha male. It is built in. Interest holds sway over reason for a great many.

    It has been worse. 1864.

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