Friday, May 06, 2011

Own It

As much as I've tried to mediate my media intake since Monday, the consensual tenor of American liberals has been unmistakable: unity! Now is not the time for partisan bickering, point-scoring, or revisionism. Now is the time for America to reclaim its sense of divine purpose, to see its pride bloom phoenix-like, and to (again) nail shut history's coffin! Everyone wave your copy of Team America: World Police in the air like you just don't care!

It's all, of course, disingenuous as hell: liberals are more than happy to engage in the kind of hawkish dick-swinging and self-aggrandizing revisionism for which they've long maligned the right-wing. So great was Obama's coup sans grâce against Bin Laden that much of the American left is gloating that they've beaten the Neo-Cons at their own game.

But chest-thumping machismo isn't a good look for liberals, nor one they're accustomed to, and so there's been the perfunctory lip-service to civil liberties, common dignity, and the rule of law. This in turn produces an aneurysm-inducing level of cognitive dissonance - hypocrisy & self-serving sanctimony so impenetrable that, for example, a single NYT editorial can proclaim that torture "violate[s] the law and any acceptable moral standard" while simultaneously asserting that "the battered intelligence community should now be basking in the glory of a successful operation."

After a decade of having been defamed as cowards, pinkos, pantywaists, apologists, and traitors, and especially now that their guy is in office, American liberals are desperate to occupy the first-person plural within "We killed Bin Laden!" Are they sure they want to put themselves at the center of the story? There is a way for liberals to indulge their id-inflamed glee while distancing themselves from the decade-long horror show preceding Bin Laden's demise. If instead of "we," they said that "a military-mafioso squad of anonymous assassins, operating outside international law, killed Bin Laden," then they'd be mere apologists (as opposed to patrons) of state-sponsored murder.

But that won't do, will it? Claiming Bin Laden's head as a trophy is an all-or-nothing proposition. If liberals are going to wear the broad-shouldered suit of the authoritarian Alpha, then they've got to own it, and I mean all of it: Guantánamo Bay, "enhanced" interrogation, Maher Arar, Abu Ghraib, the Haditha massacre, the Mahmudiyah killings, $1.2 trillion dollars, and at least 919,967 dead. Whoever claims authorship of the Osama Bin Laden's bullet-riddled dénouement signs their name to the whole, gory narrative.

Hope it was all worth it, you bloodlusty exceptionalists.


JM said...

Why are ya bringing Jon Stewart into this? Did he praise torture and the patriot act when I wasn't looking?

Seb said...

The extralegal means of surveillance, coercion, and murder that Stewart very rightly criticized both Bush and (to a lesser extent) Obama for instituting & using are the exact means by which OBL was hunted down & killed, an act which Stewart considers "justice" & the resurrection of America's mojo. That I find Stewart funny doesn't make him any less of a hypocrite.

JM said...

I agree then, gloating over his death while ignoring the past 10 play years is fucking pointless. I'm starting to prefer Chris Morris now, at least he manages to satirize and empathize with suicide bombers

For the record, I found team America fairly funny.

Jeffrey said...

As much as I've tried to mediate my media intake since Monday, the consensual tenor of American liberals has been unmistakable: unity!

I guess you read different blogs than I do. Columns at both Salon and TPM both condemned the triumphalist tone taken in most of the mainstream press. I can't speak to television as I know longer watch it for news.

And just because an NYT editorial states the obvious ("the battered intelligence community should now be basking in the glory of a successful operation.") doesn't mean that everyone outside the military shares these sentiments.

Seb said...

Actually, almost immediately after I wrote this post, I began coming across more and more columns/blogs/commentary that were as disgusted with the jingoist hootenany as I was. Certainly, what'll go down in the history books won't include monastic buzzkills like us, but it's good to know there's more people out there who think the whole narrative is fucked.

davidly said...

Up Jon Stewart's and his schmaltzy entreaties for a return to civility. That he's such a tool is one thing; that he and his producers evidently weren't the slightest reluctant to ignore any sense of humility almost makes me hope that Blowbackistan would be his studio while the applause sign is flashing. But I'm more civil than that, so I'll just wish him a couple of scary bloody poos and nightmares about his loved ones being droned.