Saturday, October 11, 2008

In Defense of Angry Mobs

This week pundits were all in a tizzy about the angry mobs showing up at John McCain and Sarah Palin rallies. “Those who press this Ayers line of attack are whipping Republicans and conservatives into a fury that is going to be very hard to calm after November,” fretted former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum. “Is it really wise to send conservatives into opposition in a mood of disdain and fury for a man who may well be the next president of the United States, incidentally the first African-American president?” David Gergen warned, “There is this free floating sort of whipping around anger that could really lead to some violence.” Andrew Sullivan intoned ominously, “This is a moment of maximal physical danger for the young Democratic nominee. And McCain is playing with fire.” And there are signs that John McCain is now looking on the passion he has stirred up the way Frankenstein looked on his monster. But I’d like to know, What’s so bad about angry mobs? After all, angry mobs made our country -- and the Republican Party -- what it is today.

This country wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for an angry mob that decided it wanted a tax cut and threw English tea into Boston Harbor. Angry mobs once enforced local justice without interference from the meddlesome federal government in the Old West and in the south after Reconstruction, just as our Founding Fathers had envisioned in The Federalist Papers. And we would probably all be Muslims now if an angry mob hadn’t chosen Barabbas over Jesus 2,000 years ago.

The Republican Party certainly owes a lot to angry mobs. Angry mobs in Little Rock and Selma deeply concerned about the issue of state’s rights, angry mobs of parents in Boston who didn’t want their kids bussed across town and angry mobs of Chicago homeowners who didn’t want their property values to go down all helped give birth to the modern conservative movement. The Democrats had angry mobs of their own rioting in the cities and burning flags at antiwar protests and conservatives realized that the only way we would win is if we had better, angrier mobs. What was Nixon’s Silent Majority but a very quiet, very angry mob?

But some conservative “intellectuals” like David Brooks subscribe to the canard that the conservative movement was defined by pointy-headed eastern elites like William Buckley, whose “entire life,” Brooks recently wrote, “was a celebration of urbane values, sophistication and the rigorous and constant application of intellect. Driven by a need to engage elite opinion, conservatives tried to build an intellectual counterestablishment with think tanks and magazines, they disdained the ideas of the liberal professoriate, but they did not disdain the idea of a cultivated mind.” Now Brooks laments, “What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole.” Brooks even goes so far as to claim that conservatives once valued “constant reading, historical understanding and sophisticated thinking.” We did? Since when? Does he honestly believe that the conservative movement was based on people who read books? Reagan wasn’t elected by the Harvard faculty. It was an angry mob tired of welfare queens and pinko fellow travelers selling us out to the Soviet Union that put him in office. And when Al Gore tried to steal the election in Florida in 2000 it took an angry mob of bussed in Young Republicans to remind Americans that you don’t get to be President just because you have the most votes. That’s not how democracies work.

So when people like David Brooks and David Gergen act like scared little rabbits over a good old American red-blooded angry mob, I wonder, where have you been all these years? How do you think Nixon, Reagan and Bush got elected?

Some conservative “thinkers” now act shocked when angry conservative mobs don’t bow down to their precious ivory tower thoughts. When Kathleen Parker treasonously wrote that Sarah Palin should quit the ticket, they responded with justifiable outrage, sending her 12,000 emails calling her a traitor and an idiot and saying she should have been aborted. But suddenly Parker no longer wants to have a frank dialogue with her readers. “When we decide that a person is a traitor and should die for having an opinion different from one's own, we cross into territory that puts all freedoms at risk,” she writes self-righteously, acting as if the scales just fell from her eyes. Is this the same Kathleen Parker who excoriated Scott McLellan for being disloyal to President Bush just to sell his book? Is this the same Kathleen Parker who defended a man who pointed out that Barack Obama is not a “full-blooded American” by saying, “Some Americans do feel antipathy toward ‘people who aren't like them,’ but that antipathy isn't about racial or ethnic differences. It is not necessary to repair antipathy appropriately directed toward people who disregard the laws of the land and who dismiss the struggles that resulted in their creation. Full-blooded Americans get this.” I’m sorry, Kathleen Parker, but you are just not like us.

And whether Ms. Parker likes it or not, how else to characterize the endorsement of Barack Obama by William Buckley’s son Christopher Buckley as anything but a betrayal? Buckley was too much of a coward to make his endorsement in his father’s magazine. He made it on The Daily Beast because he said he didn’t want to receive “foam-at-the-mouth hate-emails” from National Review readers. Why is Buckley turning his back on those who have kept the magazine in business all these years? If National Review cut all of its foaming-at-the-mouth readers from its subscriber rolls who would be left to read the magazine? Now, suddenly, Buckley thinks foaming at the mouth is a bad thing?

Sure, angry mobs can get a little rambunctious and overenthusiastic at times. Some members of the angry mobs that have been attending McCain/Palin rallies (otherwise known as “the Republican base”) got a tad carried away when they reacted to hearing Obama’s name by screaming “Kill him” and “Off with his head.” But it’s easy to go overboard in the heat of the moment. Who wouldn’t be furious at the prospect of a terrorist who went to Pakistan on an Indonesian passport, where he probably had secret meetings with Osama Bin Laden, the Weather Underground and the Illuminati, getting elected President? Can you blame them?

At first it looked like John McCain and Sarah Palin were not only prepared to ride this angry mob to victory but were even willing to egg them on a little. But yesterday it seemed McCain suddenly got cold feet. On Friday he rebuffed a woman at one of his rallies who said that Obama was an “Arab,” telling her, “No, ma'am. He's a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign's all about. He's not [an Arab].” He told another man that he didn’t have to be “scared” if Obama is elected President. Now you tell us. Don’t you want to win this election?

I don’t know why McCain now seems to be turning his back on his base, which never trusted him anyway. Maybe it was the memory of the angry Vietnamese mob that pulled McCain out of his plane when it went down in Hanoi and nearly beat him to death that gave him second thoughts. But now is not the time for McCain to suddenly find his moral scruples. Pandering to the eastern elites won’t get McCain elected. If McCain wants to win, he’s going to have to put aside whatever principles he is still clinging to and embrace the angry mob the way Ronald Reagan and George Bush did before him. Because if he loses there is no telling what this angry mob will do next. There could be rioting in the streets or worse. So let’s hope for all of our sakes that McCain has the stomach to win this election.

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39 comments:

kathleenmaher said...

you don’t get to be President just because you have the most votes.

Is it wise to go back to that now? As we watch our delusionary economic system unravel?

Please, don't get all historical.
On Nov. 4 (that's a Tuesday), get out there and vote--in case it counts.

Clark said...

"get out there and vote--in case it counts."

Vote angry, vote often.

damozel said...

Brilliant and hilarious--as per usual.

Lightning Hopkins said...

You are still at the top of you game!

J. said...

I wonder if that would make Sarah Palin the bride of Frankenstein...

Anonymous said...

Usually amusing, this one's scathing. As the topic demanded.

Bukko_in_Australia said...

And don't forget, if you're an angry, disillusioned loner who can't get together enough fellow-thinkers to stage a proper riot against an illegitimate Democrat president, you can always be an angry mob of one. It's the (slightly unreasonable) conservative thing to do.

Shannon said...

Lord, some of those links made my blood run cold. Scary sh--. As if it wasn't already bad enough. I think I've aged five years this week. It's enough to worry about my bottom line having been cut in half without having to worry that our only hope of getting out of this mess might be cut down by an angry mob egged on by two people who would be our leaders at any cost. It's just disgusting. Straight talk express - blah.

Deb Cupples @ Buck Naked Politics said...

Yet another brilliant one, my friend.

How are you doing?

Ryan said...

You're completely missing the point. If Obama gets shot, it'll be like JFK X 10. Your country does NOT need that kind of shitstorm right now.

There's angry mobs of people who feel politically disaffected... and then there's lynch mobs. You need to figure out the difference; they are not to be conflated.

Anonymous said...

This country was NOT founded by angry mobs. The Boston tea party was not an out of control lynch mob. They threw the tea into the harbor. Nobody got hurt, and the one guy that tried to steal some tea for himself had the tea partygoers turn against him. They forced him to give up his theft and made him go home naked to drive the point home. The revolutionaries were angry, but never a mob.

leoeris said...

Goodness. It sounds like you are challenging us to a war. Yes?

Anonymous said...

While I agree with you that angry mobs are as American as Mom and apple pie, I'm getting tired of people referring to all these rightfully outraged folks as "the Republican base." The word "base" has all sorts of unsavory connotations such as "low" or "immoral" or "degenerate". I suggest that we start referring to them as "the Republicans' best!"

Comrade Kevin said...

There needs to be a tarring and feathering somewhere soon, just to give it that extra oomph.

Elmo said...

The Boston Tea Party was because the rich got a tax cut...

Batocchio said...

Bravo!

Glen said...

A modest defense of plagiarism through the ages

I'm sure you're not aware that your name is uncannilly similar to that of Jonathan Swift, the infamous English author of the early 18th Century. I presume you're not aware because that earlier Swift was often accused of perpetrating irony and satire upon an unsuspecting reading public, though after perusing the entirety of his oeuvre, I just can't see it myself. At any rate, surely, if you were aware of that earlier Swift's terrible reputation, you would have chosen some bland and soothing pseudonym to write under, rather than using your own unfortunate real name.

The point is especially applicable to this posting, because there is an uncanny similarity of your title to a work of the narrator of Swift's Tale of a Tub, as listed in the front matter of that controversial work. Among the narrator's earlier works is listed a title, "A Modest Defense of the Proceedings of the Rabble in all Ages". If you have perhaps located what I always thought must be a tragically lost work, please e-mail me where I can find this treatise by the Tale of a Tub author. It sounds like a universaly useful work, and I'm sure that I would derive as many useful life lessons from it as I have form the Tale of a Tub itself.

But, you know, you really shouldn't be claiming ideas cadged from this masterwork as your own.

Deranged Leftwing Baker said...

The Boston Tea Party was because the rich got a tax cut...

In that case, shouldn't they have thrown the rich into the harbor in order to "soak the rich?"

Bukko_in_Australia said...

I agree with Anon @ 10:24 that angry mobs should not be termed the Republicans' "base." Al-Qaeda means "the base" in Arabic, (or so I am told repeatedly by Fox News, and as a conservative, I must believe it.) Therefore, I propose that angry mobs of white people screaming "terrorist" and "Off with his head" be referred to as the "Republican Qaeda."

Or maybe "Repubbulqaeda." Yeah, that's got a catchy tongue-rhythm to it. Time to call the trademark office...

Anonymous said...

Bravo Jon. Another in your long line of comically herniated attempts at satire.

This one involves indicting annoyed and even outraged Republicans, for those same vices of adversarial dehumanization and contempt that have been ritualistically developed by the left into a political art form. It's an art form the left have endlessly celebrated, and unabashedly practiced since ... well, since the first Marxian species beings began crawling around on all fours demanding access to the life efforts of those persons unfortunate enough to find themselves sharing a political space with them.

"Bushshit", "Scaliar", "Repukes", "rednecks", "Neanderthals", all terms immediately and routinely applied by the left to Republicans.

Even Maureen Dowd got in the act early and often. Having little to go on at the time she initially launched against the foe, she contented herself with taking aim at the thinness of Bush's upper lip, and what she found to be a disturbing distance between that, and his nose. It's obvious that when it comes to politics and trust, she prefers a more androgynous man with fuller lips, and room enough for only the slenderest of moustaches.

Republican political offices are vandalized, their property damaged, and their well-being confrontationally threatened by ardent lefties. No problem there of course; why, it's just characterized as the common coin of modern political discourse. If it is noticed at all.

Yet when rallying Republicans forcefully question the integrity and obviously suspect patriotism of some Democrats, there is always a tremulously indignant member of the chattering class available on cue to express alarm, and issue dire warnings about the debasement of civic relations and fellow feeling. Too, too funny.

When the political right begins acting - however little - like the left, it apparently signals an opportunity for these gliding moral eunuchs, to begin seeking attention by feigning outrage.

I suppose there is a kind of perverse logic in this glaring lack of analytical symmetry and behavioral reciprocity. The Republicans are seen as guilty for violating the principles of civility and respect for persons that they generally proclaim as virtues. The left on the other hand, can hardly be accused of hypocrisy when transgressing rules they reject in the first place.

All of that we can take as settled.

The only open questions are first, whether the right will cease in responding to the organisms of the left by the rules that the lefties have themselves written and promulgated, and second, why in the world they should.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr William (Anonymous said...)F. Buckley,

I think that you wrote better when you were still alive. You should give yourself a rest.

Kindest regards,

Mr Hepplewhite

chicago dyke said...

The Founding Fathers =/= lynch mobs of the Jim Crow South.

this is a ridiculous post. like, boringly ridiculous. the mobs the republican party needs right now are against bankers, off-shoring specialists, and the clown car of corruption that is most of the bush upper hierarchy. that's who is fucking over working class white people with conservative values but lacking 1,00,000,000 in the bank.

seriously, you're defending lynch mobs? that's what those people are, in case you don't know. get an historical clue, dood. there's a big difference b/w "hang him for making us pay these taxes!" and "hang him because he made eyes at a white woman!" guess who these palin/mccain supporters are more like.

James Higham said...

He could always pop a youth pill and become younger.

Normally, I lyke dykes said...


seriously, you're defending lynch mobs? that's what those people are, in case you don't know. get an historical clue, dood.


Proving, once again, that dykes have no sense of humor...

Memo to Hepplewhite said...

Mr. Hepplewhite -- can't you see that long-winded Anonymous (who I think is Lucianne Goldberg's son, not Buckley's ghost) looooooves him some Jon Swift?

Why else would he spend so much time analyzing Swift-o's posts, and typing verbo-pompous rejoinders? It's like when you were in third grade, and were attracted to Little Suzy, but you couldn't show it, because that was sissy, so you threw dirt clods at her instead. (Don't tell me it was just me who did that.)

No, that Anonymous can't WAIT for Swifty, the conservative he LOVES to hate. He jeers Jon because he can't touch him. My only question is, when he does it, does he touch himself?

Anonymous said...

Perfect as usual! Nice to have you back!

smallvoice said...

Dear Mr. Swift:

Thank you for restoring this angry mobster's pride and confidence.

Though I was waving my 'Down with Osama Hussein' sign and yelling 'Traitor', my heart was not totally in it anymore: I kept thinking of the poor female mobster who was lectured by our Dear Leader for pointing out that 'that one' was Arab.

But now I know that history demands that I keep on: no surrender!

Anonymous said...

Memo to Hepplewhite said...

"My only question is, when he does it, does he touch himself?"


Dear Memo to Hepplewhite:

Just as we might expect, that would be the only question that comes to your mind.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 10/13/2008 10:35 AM:

Although I haven't actually read your post, a quick skim reveals to me that you liberals are accusing us good conservatives of duplicating your behaviour (!!!).

Those are fighting words my dear fellow, and I may be forced to locate and brandish my pitchfork.

I would also appreciate it if you would cease using and hiding behind my good name as if it were some kind of a fashionable white hoodie or something.

I'm anonymous! No, I'm anonymous! Who knows who's anonymous any more?

Harrumph!

Anonymous said...

It generally looks as though the consensus view of Jon's cheering section of like-minded lefty bloggers, is that there is basically only one Anonymous reading Jon's productions and commenting.

And further, that that Anonymous is actually Jonah Goldberg.

If so, the implications for Jon's actual reach and readership are discouragingly obvious.

That is, if Jon's intention ever did include anything more than venting his spleen to, well, his regular boys.

Anonymous said...

After further thought, I still agree with everything I wrote in the immediately preceding post I wrote a few hours ago.

Yes, I admit that I've been the one that's been writing these posts all along.

I cannot argue with my proof that all of us conservatives are most comfortable in our own echo chamber of like-minded dwindling readers.

Micgar said...

Those angry crowds should have been yelling "brains!" "brains!" They so obviously need them.

liquiddaddy said...

Mr. Swift,

There are some things that can only be said with brickbats.

LD

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