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Sunday, January 01, 2006
Welcome To The New Gay
Not just for hangers...
NeoCon-ism is the new gay. Former "progressives", haggard and bloodied from a dinner party too far, are debating coming out of the closet into the light of day and pausing to reflect on whether it is better to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous eye-rolling or to take arms against a sea of smirks and derisive laughter. Being neocons, though, they're not so much the 'taking up arms' types, preferring others to do the fighting while they navel-gaze and give their martyr gland a stiff work-out.
Let's start with Bookworm who lives with the private shame that she's right...and everyone else on Wisteria Lane is left:
This is my town: It’s a small, affluent community in a very liberal part of a Blue State. Houses are spacious and well-maintained. Nature is beautiful and abundant. Streets are clean and safe. Children are everywhere, and they are healthy, attractive and well-loved. Neighbors always wave hello and, if they have the time, stop and say a few words. Soccer is omnipresent, and soccer moms form close bonds (mostly through equally omnipresent car pools). Schools are excellent, and every school bond vote passes. It’s Heaven.
This is also my town: On the eve of last November’s election, a six year old girl who lives around the corner ran up to me chanting, “Bush is evil! Bush is evil!”
I was at a party last year when a woman I know suddenly burst out, “I hate Bush. He’s evil. I wish he’d just drop dead” – and everyone around her verbally applauded that statement.
At a lunch with some very dear friends, the subject of the Iraq war came up and one of my friends, a brilliant, well-read, well-educated man, in arguing against the War, announced as his clinching argument the “fact” that “Bush is an idiot.”
This is me: I grew up in this same liberal environment and was a life-long Democrat. Who cared who the candidates actually were? I just voted a straight Democratic ticket. The very first vote I cast was for Jimmy Carter in 1980. I never questioned my liberalism.
So you see, I totally understand those in my community who unquestioningly view conservatives as irremediably evil.
And then things changed: Although I realize that my journey to the right began before 9/11, there is no doubt that 9/11 was my moment to cross the Rubicon. I won’t detail that decision, both because that’s not the point of this article, and because so many others have done it better than I (some good examples being David Horowitz, Michael Medved, Cinnamon Stillwell and David Gutman. Suffice it to say that I suddenly had to confront the fact that I was a neocon living in one of the bluest of Blue corners in America.
How did I react to my change? With silence. You see, having lived a lifetime on the Left myself, I instantly realized that my new outlook would not be greeted as an intellectual curiosity, to be questioned politely and challenged through reasoned argument.
Because, you see, until 9/11 Bookworm was on the side that didn't fight fair and was impolite and intellectually incurious, but 9/11 made her realize that these things were not virtues. And it took the deaths of three thousand people to give her the courage to admit that her life was a lie...just not enough courage to admit it to anyone else. Well, I've always said the hardest part of self-martyrdom is getting that last nail in.
Then we have neo-neocon who wants to say it kind-of loud, she's neocon and she's proud:
There are really two reasons I've decided to speak out to friends. The first is personal--and perhaps self-indulgent, in a way. I'll call it, for want of a better name, integrity. Or perhaps that old liberal notion: authenticity. Or maybe honesty.
Call it what you will. The idea is that I can't keep as a deep dark secret something so important and basic to my way of thinking from people I consider my friends. Painful though it may be, if the friendship can't handle it, I'm willing to kiss the friendship goodbye. Because what sort of a friendship is it, if it's based on something so very fragile?
The second reason I tell friends is actually more important, because it's not about me. It's this: if I don't speak up, and if people like me (and Bookworm, and her other crypto-con friends) don't speak up and "out" ourselves, then it simply perpetuates the myths of those who consider The Other Side to be monstrous.
Yes, some will consider you an awful person if you tell the truth about your current beliefs. But your speaking up may make others wonder about their preconceptions. If Republicans and neocons and even liberal hawks are considered the absolute Other, they can continue to be demonized and typecast. If it's you, on the other hand, who's the neocon--and not some stranger--you, that nice mother down the street who bakes the brownies; you, the one with the jokes and the helping hand; you, who's always been so smart and so kind--then how can all of Bush's supporters be cruel and stupid?
Just like having a liberal patiently explain to you that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 will make you question why exactly we invaded them, which may lead you to question what kind of country we have become where we started condoning illegal wiretapping, holding people against their will without right to counsel, just how much torture is too much torture, and does the president get to do anything he wants just because he makes us feel all safe and warm and keeps the trains running on time. Later we can have that discussion about cronyism, choice, bad science, incompetence, secrecy, welfare for the weathy, and incipient theocracy.
Oh. That's right. We're at war. All else is vanities. Carry on.
Lastly we take up the case of the Grandfather of 9/11 Conversion, Roger L Simon:
A surprising number of people I knew were paying a great deal of attention. Hardly anyone I talked to in Hollywood did not know "something had happened to Roger Simon, the man who created Moses Wine." Let's leave aside for the moment my contention that they had changed but I hadn't. I was disturbed. No one likes to be a pariah, but there I was. To many of my friends I was a threatening figure, although they didn't want to admit it, so chalked my current views up to my neuroses or whatever. You'd have to ask them. Once, when blogging at the Republican convention, I ran into an old left/liberal friend covering the same event for the usual suspects. He laughed at my presence and said "You'll be back some day," meaning those views were a temporary aberration. (There were other far more insulting moments that I will go into at another time.) I winced and wondered.
Now, I don't. The truth, as I gradually learned, is there is no "back" to go back to, even if I so desired. The left n'existe pas. It's over. There's no there there, as Gertrude famously said - only a boring and aging social club trying to preserve their perks. It won't work. Neo-neocon doesn't have to worry as much as she thinks she does, nor does the yet more apprehensive, though immensely sympathetic, "Bookworm" she quotes. Although I still think "sisterhood is powerful" and all that, this is not about men and women (as Bookworm supposes). It's about common sense. Pardon my bluntness, but screw on some cojones. If you lose friends who are so pathetically stupid (and mired in projection) to think world affairs revolve around the putative lack of intelligence of George Bush (who did better at Yale than John Kerry anyway, as the New York Times, of all places, informed us), those friends probably are not nearly as bright as you thought they were - certainly nowhere near as emotionally or morally sophisticated. Also, they have a stong streak of cowardice. As neo-neocon knows well and has written extensively, these people are far less willing to examine their assumptions than the Bookworms of the world for fear of their own personality disintegrations. And maybe, if truth be told, they do have something to be afraid of in that regard. That, far more than ostracism, is the tragic dilemma which we must all confront on a daily basis.
Now I may not be as "emotionally or morally sophisticated" as Roger L Simon, but then I didn't spend the afternoon of 9/11 flushing away my beliefs and convictions in a piddle-stained panic. So please spare me the "cojones" and "cowardice" locker room speech from the man who is one car backfire away from turning into a fedora floating in a puddle of pee.
You wanna run into the arms of the big strong steely-eyed rocket man? Be my guest. But when he picks your pocket, steals you car and leaves you high and dry in some cheap motel near Waco, don't come crying to me.
There's no there there. Even for the legendary creator of Moses Wine.