I have been watching for some time with alarm and dismay as old friends who've great gifts of intellect, wit and good character have slid during the past dozen years into people I do not recognize...some supporting W and taking malicious glee in policies which killed hundreds of thousands, put millions of their fellow citizens in ruin and misery, and otherwise further degrade the honor and character of the US in the world and to itself in addition to delight in the failure or obstruction of any efforts to ameliorate any of this . Others wave the flag for the troops and somehow hate the country they defend; it may be the acme of patriotism perhaps to mock and jeer and show respect only to the country's military but none outside it but I confess I don't see it. Worst of this has been seeing my dad slip into being a Fox dittohead. Where once years ago he was a proud Democrat and Kennedy campaign worker, now he too mocks the goody-two-shoes (whatever the hell THAT means), laughs at the pain and plight of others, thinks everything is a conspiracy against him and generally rails against the most tepid Democractic proposals that are indistinguishable from the Eishenhower-era GOP ones of his youth. I might believe his ideas had shifted or he'd become embittered by the rotten state of our country since Vietnam and Watergate made clear to all but the most self-deluded that we are not the country we tell ourselves we are...yes, I might believe so if every time the President comes on he didn't yell "Nig! Nig! Nig!" at the screen or make "Ooga-Booga" sounds or other similar comments befitting a taunting 2 year old and not a man near 70 with advanced degrees in history and poilitical science and who had worked in government for some years. Or yells how it's all the niggers niggering up everything when O'Reilly or Hannity says something ignorant and foolish virtually every damn night.
He knows better too, and has had the decency in the past to be abashed and ashamed when his own dad (a small city cop for 40 years) would say worse louder (being hard of hearing) at the worst possible times - then wonder why no one would sit near him at basketball games and the like. I can at least try to understand it as his era, growing up in the 20s and 30s and then as a cop when most of the people he would see just maybe *were* crooks and bums...but my dad knew better. I wish he still did.
When I think of it, I am reminded of C.S. Leiws, writing in The Great Divorce: "“Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others... but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God "sending us" to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE hell unless it is nipped in the bud. ” and also:
"But the whole question is whether she is
now a grumbler.”
“I should have thought there was no doubt about that!”
“Aye, but ye misunderstand me. The question is whether she is a grumbler, or only a grumble. If there is a real woman—even the least trace of one—still there inside the grumbling, it can be brought to life again. If there’s one wee spark under all those ashes, we’ll blow it till the whole pile is red and clear. But if there’s nothing but ashes we’ll not go on blowing them in our own eyes forever. They must be swept up.”
“But how can there be a grumble without a grumbler?”
“The whole difficulty of understanding Hell is that the thing to be understood is so nearly Nothing.”
Somewhere, that failure of empathy, that self-absoprtion, crept into him and others. Or maybe he *does* notice the injustice and misery of others but something deep in him reacts with hurt that flares into rage by the time it reaches the surface and only has sarcasm and mockery for any making even an oblique attempt to help it. I don't know. I'd like to think the good man he was is still in there somewhere. In all of them really.
The post by Stonekettle Station's Jim Wright expresses my reaction to many of the syptoms at least, what the author calls "endless litany of pessimism and bitter grumblings fleshed out with the latest NRA hysteria, TEA Party conspiracy theories, Fox News lunacy, and silly chainmail nonsense."
His post on Benghazi (http://www.stonekettle.com/2013/05/benghazi-reductio-ad-absurdum.html) is also of interest as some keep rearing its nothingness, the IRS "scandal" having already evaporated as the silly charade it always was. As usual in such nihilistic self-gratification fantasies, there's no "there" there.
Not that I can tell my dad any of that. Not only contradiction, but even merely a demur from the GOP/Fox party line and the mere suggestion of some basic fact-checking drives him up the wall. So very sad. I can hope somehow he will recover claity of mind and heart, but I am increasingly doubtful especially with an industry and party dedicated to catering to and inflaming all these dark passions.