Stupid vs Politically Correct

stupid1Our society has finally fallen into the abyss.  It is now more acceptable to be stupid (dumb-to-the-bone stupid) than it is to be politically incorrect — and I can prove it.

Recently, my country had a national election.  It was quite the dog-and-pony show.  Every party employed a small army of people whose only job was to comb through the Internet.  They were searching for any racist, sexist, homophobic, generally inappropriate words or actions that members of the opposition may have ever made (at any time in their Internet history.)  The hope was they’d find something that would discredit the opposition with their own words.  No surprise!  They found quite a lot.  (It’s amazing to me that most people still don’t understand the Internet is permanent.)  Anyway, once the politically incorrect morsel was found and the offending candidate was “outed” for being offensive, it was always the same drill.  The candidate would apologise — claiming youth, poor judgement, a bad hair day, whatever — and withdraw from politics before the Internet lynch mob could sink their teeth into them.  This happened several times during the election — except for one candidate.

Here’s how it went down.

One candidate made some very, very politically incorrect remarks about a picture of the gates of the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz.  She was called on it, and the eagerly offended social media mob began to gather.  Now, here’s the game changer.  Instead of dutifully feeling shame and slinking off into the darkness, the candidate responded by saying she didn’t mean any harm and she wasn’t actually being insensitive to 6 million murdered Jews because “Well, I didn’t know what Auschwitz was, or I didn’t up until today.”  Whoa!

I guess this could happen.  After all, Frodo, Pippin and Samwise Gamgee probably never heard of Auschwitz, but they were hobbits and grew up in Middle Earth.  For the rest of us, the Holocaust is one of the biggies.  We learned about it in school — grade school.  Plus, if you missed that week, there have been a number of books written about it that probably mentioned Auschwitz — as well as television programs and films (if you’re not into that whole literacy thing.)  Schindler’s List for God’s sake!  Besides, one would think, as a political candidate for national office, at some point in her career she might have had a political discussion.  That discussion could have featured — Oh, I don’t know — maybe — human rights, major turning points in history, recent acts of genocide, and the name “Auschwitz” could have come up.  After all, one of her friends thought Auschwitz was important enough to go there and take a picture.  Just sayin’.

But it gets worse.

After she assured the world that she was ignorant not insensitive, there was no general outcry for her to step down.  No one seemed to care that if she somehow managed to miss Auschwitz, on the learning curve, she may have missed a few other things as well.  In fact, there were a lot of folks actually defending her on social media.  Kinda like “Hey, just ’cause she’s stupid that doesn’t mean she’s a bad person.”  Or  “Making a dick joke about Auschwitz doesn’t prevent her from being a thoughtful and thorough lawmaker who will help direct the cultural and political aspirations of our country — because (as she freely admitted) she didn’t have a clue what Auschwitz was in the first place, nor any idea what its major cultural and political significance is to contemporary civilization.”  I’ll just let that last one sink in for a minute.

Because it gets worse.

On election night, the candidate who asked the question, “What’s an Auschwitz?” didn’t get elected — but she did get over 10,000 votes.

I rest my case.

Margaret Thatcher and Ugly Politics

thatcherOkay, I’ve had enough.  I really thought that I could let it go and maintain the moral high ground by not acknowledging — forget responding to — the hate.  I can’t.  I’m not that fine a human being.  So…

We live in cowardly times, mean-spirited and smug.  We celebrate cheap shots and slink away from honest debate.  We attack those who can’t defend themselves while insisting it is our moral principles which give us the open warrant for this revenge.  We applaud bullies in our streets and on our social media and then wonder why they’ve crept onto our playgrounds.  In our society, many of us are not very nice, and because of that, history will probably judge all of us as vulgar.

The infernal optimist in me thought that we couldn’t sink much lower than making fun of 86-year-old Pope Benedict XVI for wanting to retire.  Old Christians are easy targets, but the same folks, so quick with the jokes, had already loudly refused to publish satirical Moslem cartoons under the guise of sensitivity.  I thought integrity was not a flexible commodity.  I was wrong.  As of last week, the vitriol circus three-ringing itself around the death of Margaret Thatcher proves the “progressives” among us have hit intellectual rock bottom and are now starting to dig.

As a public figure, even in death, Margaret Thatcher’s policies should be (and are) open to vigorous debate.  For those who disagreed with her methods and results there are any number of well thought out arguments they could use to support their opposition.  However, I doubt if “bitch” is one of them.  Perhaps I’m missing something, but I don’t see abandoning my political position on the strength of that thesis.  At least, “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” — although about as original as most leftwing ideas — has a sophomoric air of carnival about it.  However, neither of these responses to one of the most divisive politicians in recent history is exactly a tsunami of intellectual prowess.  If this is all the left is bringing to the table, it’s no wonder they couldn’t convince the voting public that Margaret Thatcher was the personification of evil – on three separate occasions.  And this bringsthatcher1 us to the interesting question: What does one do with one’s political self-righteousness when the ballot box disagrees with them?  (After all, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government was democratically elected three times.)  Does one snarl and cry and demonize one’s opponent, or pout and call her names?  Or perhaps one tantrums through the streets in sanctimonious anger, smashing things, burning cars and injuring police officers?   Or maybe one merely gathers enough explosives to attempt to blow one’s opponent’s head off and thus alleviate the need for any further discussion?  In Margaret Thatcher’s case, the answer is all of the above — plus one more.  Many on the left just quietly waited until the object (she was an object by then) of their hate died and now attack her viciously and personally with no fear of repercussions.  Plus it should be noted that those who profess an absolute abhorrence of hate are among the first to cast a stone.

To those who disagree with Margaret Thatcher’s policies — with measured argument and open debate — I wish you well.  To those who rant their hate from the rooftops and “celebrate” her death: you are the embodiment of all that is dull-witted and crude in our times.  I want nothing to do with you or your politics; you’ve shown the world the ugly face of both of them.

American Election: Finally

In less than 48 hours, the American election will be over – finally.  It seems like they’ve been campaigning in the US forever.  However, it hasn’t been that long, really.  In fact, with a few minor interruptions, they’ve only been going at it south of the 49th parallel since Washington’s Farewell Address in 1796.  That’s just a little over 200 years – nothing serious.

Actually, America is in permanent political mode because it is serious.  Like it or not, politics is what makes the world go round and when practiced properly, it is a wonder to behold.

As I’ve said before, democracy is one of the few things that puts purple in my prose.  I can’t help it.  I love being able to stand up before God and everybody and say what I think.  I like knowing that nobody — NOBODY — can shut me up without good and sufficient reason.  I like to wax eloquent on a Thursday afternoon on the perils of progressive thinking — simply because I can.  My political system – democracy – let’s me do that and more.  It makes me, just another skinny kid from the hood, a political wiseass as equal as everybody else in the halls of power.  My voice is not a hesitant whisper; it’s spoken-word arrogance.  I can, and do, say and write things, that half the world would be imprisoned for – probably without a trial – and I do it boldly.  My democracy allows me that luxury and just about every other luxury I enjoy.  Not only can I think as I please and speak as I please, but, within recognized social limits, I can do as I please, eat as I please, dress as I please and go wherever in hell I want to.  I can work, learn, teach, fart and fornicate in any manner I so choose; nobody’s going to cut off my hands or stone me to death because of it.  I can Google my leaders and, with one mighty click, find out who they are, what they are and whether they’re scoundrels or not.  No self-important party apparatchik can stop me.  But most importantly, I can incite my fellow citizens to join me at the ballot box and, in a single afternoon, calmly and quietly change the political landscape faster and more effectively than any revolution every could.  That, boys and girls, is the pure unadulterated power that every wannabe dictator or demagogue fears and respects.

Tomorrow the great tribes of America will gather together and demonstrate that power.  Despite what many Americans think, the USA is not the only democracy in the world, but, despite what many people outside the US choose to believe, it is the most effective.  American elections, constant as they are, fuel democracy.  They continually force public servants to account for their service; to stand before their employer, the American people, and explain themselves.  As Martha Stewart says, “That’s a good thing.”

Whatever happens tomorrow, it is the election itself that is a testament to the tenacity of democracy.  Of course, in a country so clearly divided as America is right now, the results (whatever they are) will bring out the worst in somebody’s sour grapes.  Ironic, isn’t it — that people would complain about the very thing that guarantees them the luxury of that complaint?  But that’s how democracy works; that is the beauty of it — the very essence.  It applies itself to everybody — whether they appreciate it or not.