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The World Gone Mad

Maybe it’s just because I’m used to being disappointed by the occupant of the White House, it’s hard for me to get as worked up over the Administration change as much as everyone on Facebook. I was reading Sarah Hoyt’s article about “Surviving the Cult” and glanced briefly at the comments. This really caught my eye:

I feel like I’m being constantly gaslighted by people I have, well, had, some respect for, joked with, met, and suddenly they’ve all gone crazy left as though they’re trying to win some kind of loon contest. And I must have just been really naive not to have seen it years ago.

Yep, and while I’m aware that this has reenergized the loony right, the center seems to be disappearing. Embrace the crazy! It’s quickly becoming the zeitgeist of our age.

29 Responses to “The World Gone Mad”

  1. Patrick says:

    One of my wife’s best friends (quite liberal and not a fan of Trump) got a call from her old hometown radio station in Quebec to see how she was doing in DC now that Trump was boss.

    Apparently the wife and I were the unnamed guests of honor in her interview: Republican, mixed-race, gun nuts, two kids and…awesome people you’d be crazy not to know and love.

    The best part: this the whole thing was done in French. So it definitely hit an interesting demographic.

    Yet another of my wife’s friends told her husband (a Marine vet) she’d divorce him if he voted Trump. So it’s a mixed bag around here.

    • Sebastian says:

      DC seems to have more of a culture of people of different political persuasions getting along than other places. Probably out of a bit of necessity.

      There’s also the kind of political division that I’d call normal, but then there’s this new normal, which most people used to call “crazy.”

      • Patrick says:

        Yeah, sometimes DC is a kind of demilitarized zone when out and about socially. But when you get back into your work uniform…

        I think it’s just a case where the media moved the Overton Window far enough that people will say and do what they would never have said or done before. The one who threatened her husband (she was not joking) just three years ago philosophized how there wasn’t much difference between political parties. She was content.

        Maybe she just felt all warm and fuzzy when her team was at the helm. Dunno. We met her right after Obama was elected.

        • Old 1811 says:

          Patrick, your DC experience was a lot better than mine. After I retired and got bored, I went to work for a Beltway Bandit and ended up on a government contract with a bunch of young liberals. The second they found out I was a retired LEO (because I told them), I was an unperson. Nothing I said was listened to or even acknowledged, and in a year and a half I never had a cup of coffee with one of them. My invitations to lunch or coffee were blown off with “I’m too busy,” so I went by myself and five minutes later saw them enter the same restaurant I was in. They always sat on the other end of the room.
          I never talked politics and I took a bath every day or so. I was always pleasant and civil. I’d never been treated like that before, and I’ve never been treated like that since.
          And everyone I met in DC was on the make. If you couldn’t help them with their next promotion (and I couldn’t), they wouldn’t talk to you.
          After my experience, I have to paraphrase Burt Reynolds on the old Johnny Carson show: The only way I’d go back to DC is in a plane crash. (He said it about New Jersey.)
          I’m glad your experience was and is more positive.

  2. Whetherman says:

    “I must have just been really naive not to have seen it years ago.”

    Of course the same thing can be said about the reemergence of neofascism and overt racism.

    I was reading the comments in another venue this morning, and a long-time commenter who I recognized as right-leaning but mostly moderate commented that “The Jews own and control everything in America. . .”

    Not many months ago no one except a flaming neo-Nazi would have dreamed of expressing such an opinion, but today it seems to have become an acceptable element of our discourse. I noticed that no one replied to or castigated the comment.

    I have lived through a lot of history, including Vietnam, and never has America been the terra incognito I’m experiencing every day, now. Though, speaking of naivete’, for fifty years I’ve known that neofascism was out there, right beneath a very thin skin of a surface, but I got used to not needing to address it. When it would bubble up among my right-leaning fellow-travelers, I would always wink and laugh it off, as just one of our Good Ole Boys’ jokes.

    If the left seems “crazy left,” in part that’s because the right seems to have become so tone-deaf that since Day One they have not been listening to what Their Man has actually said. So, what’s to get all excited about? We’ve been saying that stuff around the cracker barrel for years, nudge-nudge-wink-wink.

    Who knew that there were rich and powerful people who really meant it?

    What’s going on is really of history-making dimensions, and dismissing it as just somewhat odd business-as-usual is to fail to recognize that.

    • Sebastian says:

      “What’s going on is really of history-making dimensions, and dismissing it as just somewhat odd business-as-usual is to fail to recognize that.”

      I think it is. And that’s what has me worried. You’re absolutely right about those people coming back out of the woodwork. I’ve noticed it too, and it’s no less frightening.

      • eriko says:

        More so than ever when you see someone on ‘your side’ heading out in the wingbat land you need to deal with them. The ‘other side’ will just use them as an example of why y’all should be written off. You need to tend your flock or risk them being used as a reason to build walls.

        I am not naming sides here as this applies to pretty much anyone.

        • Sebastian says:

          Yep…. and something I’ve not hesitated to do here. But it comes at a price, and in this day of people doing this for a living rather than a hobby, it’s going to get rare. You can get a lot more eyeballs being a cheerleader or trolling for hate clicks than you can trying to reason with people, and telling them things they need to hear but don’t want to.

    • Patrick says:

      I don’t recall The (New) One talking shit about Jews, other than to say “I love the Jews” or some other oddball anointment of his affection. Trump pushed early and often for Israeli support, stood against undefendable borders with Gaza/PLO/Hama/Hezbollah, opposed appeasement of Iran, called out US interference in Israeli elections (“The Russians” are amateurs compared to the US State Department), and took counsel openly and often from prominent Jewish people including (wait for it) his daughter and son-in-law (who is now one of his most senior advisors in the White House).

      I really hate having to constantly jump in on Trump defense, because he’s often so wrong. But facts are facts and despite the dipshit things that come out of his mouth I can say that I never heard him go all Himmler. Quite the opposite.

      Feel free to educate me. But calling a man who holds Orthodox Jews (among others) so close to his heart, his business – and now the Office of President – a racist crypto-Nazi is more evidence of what I have felt lately: words have lost meaning and that is not a good thing for social discourse.

      • Whetherman says:

        “I don’t recall The (New) One talking shit about Jews, other than to say “I love the Jews” or some other oddball anointment of his affection.”

        I’m pretty sure it was a Jewish friend who first called my attention to part of one of Chris Rock’s comedy routines. Rock said in effect, blacks and Jews need to watch out when bigotry against any group emerges, because “some trains ain’t never late.” In other words, their turn in the barrel is coming very soon, after the Muslims (or whoever) are used to set the precedents.

        • mike says:

          So because he’s against Fundamentalist Islamic Extremists, his daughter, son-in-law, a bunch of his closest advisors, and the entire state of Israel who he’s been tripping over himself trying to support had better watch out? C’mon, now.

          When I saw your block of text following Patrick’s comment, I thought I’d get an actual education about a guy I don’t know a lot about. Instead, I’m led to believe that you’re just calling Trump names because you don’t have anything else. I am truly disappointed because I wish for once someone – anyone – could stay above that when attacking him because comments like yours only reinforce the narrative that his critics are just bitter partisans. The daily examples of this wind up tilting my support for him further in his direction.

          • BC says:

            So because he’s against Fundamentalist Islamic Extremists, his daughter, son-in-law, a bunch of his closest advisors, and the entire state of Israel who he’s been tripping over himself trying to support had better watch out? C’mon, now.

            C’mon, yourself, and Google “Overton Window.” With the vilification of every outgroup, the vilification of the next outgroup becomes easier, and Jews are traditional targets for this kind of thing notwithstanding Trump’s familial and business relationships. Look around: it’s not for nothing that over the last eighteen months anti-Semitic trolls have slithered out of the political sewers and grown loud and proud in comments sections and on social media. They perceive that an electorate receptive to Trump’s particular style of poisonous garbage might also be interested in other, related flavors. They see opportunity.

            I hope they’re wrong, I really do. But people like you characterizing anybody pointing this out as “bitter partisans,” and using it as reason to cram your heads further up Trump’s backside, doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence.

        • Patrick says:

          Massive majorities of the Islamic world believe that it is perfectly fine to kill “the other”. The definition of “other” blurs moment to moment but generally speaking gays, Jews, Christians and “the west” are on the list (and generally in that order).

          This is not anecdote, nor is it hyperbole. Millions and millions of humans are members of a culture where murder, rape and torture of “others” is openly practiced and encouraged by religious and government leaders. This is fact. Also fact is that many of them want to immigrate here.

          There is no large-spread cultural acceptance in the west for murder, rape or discrimination against any person. But most foreign Islamic cultures not only tolerate the same, but espouses it openly and dogmatically. Again, this is empirical fact.

          Foreign Islamic cultural beliefs do not comport with our cultural values. Holding down an 11-year old girl, and forcing her legs open so they can slice off her clitoris – without anesthesia – using a razor blade is not a “religious value” worth respecting within our liberal system. Period. Full stop. This sexual torture is not only routine and legal in most Islamic cultures, but required in some.

          That culture will never peacefully conjoin with ours, so long as they hold those beliefs.

          Stopping people with those beliefs from entering the USA is smart policy. It is not racist or “Islamophobic” to maintain the separation between our two diametrically opposed cultures, especially when one wishes to invade and destroy our system of values (their words). Wherever the Islamist draws their line today, the simple truth is that line holds death and torture for whoever is on the other side. As you note, lines are redrawn easily.

          Whetherman: do you support immigration policy that identifies, isolates and prevents that culture from entering the USA?

          I don’t want to hear the “not all people believe” trope, either. I’m talking about entire regions of this planet where governments and schools openly espouse this evil. Don’t hide behind the odd exception – I want your opinion on the cultural majority who hold these beliefs.

          Is Trump “Hitlerian” when he says, ‘no society that sexually tortures little girls has a place in the USA’?

          • Hank Archer says:

            Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an al-Qaeda leader, explained one of his organization’s most important plans to CIA interrogators.

            “The ‘practical’ way to defeat America was through immigration and by outbreeding non-Muslims. He said Jihadi-minded brothers would immigrate into the United States, taking advantage of the welfare system to support themselves while they spread their Jihadi message. They will wrap themselves in America’s rights and laws for protection, ratchet up acceptance of Sharia law, and then, only when they were strong enough, rise up and violently impose Sharia from within. He said the brothers would relentlessly continue their attacks and the American people eventually would become so tired, so frightened, and so weary of war that they would just want it to end. ‘Eventually America will expose her neck to us for slaughter.’”

            Maybe Trump’s desire for a new immigration policy regarding Muslims isn’t off base.

            • Arnie says:

              Agreed, sir! As a student of the history and spread of Mohammedanism, I can confirm that has been their exact strategy for centuries, starting with Mohammed himself. Pretend peace and friendship until strong enough to overcome the “infidel,” then conquer or destroy him. The chronological theme of the Quran itself follows that pattern. I am convinced we are fools to allow them entrance without extreme vetting. To paraphrase a former mortal enemy, “We are giving them the rope with which to hang us.”
              Respectfully, Arnie

    • Patrick says:

      My head scratch about your post is partially satisfied by two elements in your screed: firstly that you appear to be at least 60 years old (unless you could detect fascism in the single digit age bracket); and then this:

      So, what’s to get all excited about? We’ve been saying that stuff around the cracker barrel for years, nudge-nudge-wink-wink.

      No.

      “We” have not been saying any such thing. Not about “Jews”, “The Blacks” or anyone else for that matter. I am at least a generation younger than you. “We” don’t have those conversations because most of our generation didn’t grow up broken. Skip the anecdotes – the simple truth is we (the collective “we”) didn’t grow up accepting racist shit. I have lived in many places in the USA and never had racism accepted even with a “nudge and a wink”.

      If anything, the national gun community has been one of the most open groups I’ve ever worked with. The occasional social idiot is quickly excised from the forums, blogosphere and meetups – not because he spoke the hidden truth, but because he is a complete and utter imbecile.

      I doubt the racism you witness is as endemic to the local fast-casual restaurant scene as much as it is local to the people you keep close to you. If this is your life you to find some new people to hang out with.

      • Sebastian says:

        There’s some truth to the generational thing, I think. If you hang around with working class people of older generations, you’ll hear racist shit. I heard plenty of it when I worked menial jobs in high school from the people of my parents generation I worked with.

        That’s not to say I’ve never heard racist shit from X-ers, but it’s considered boorish behavior in my (our?) generation. It’ll get you ostracized.

      • Whetherman says:

        I just want to make clear that in no way was I suggesting that the attitudes I was commenting on were acceptable. I was being sarcastic in much of my phrasing.

        My kids (who I assume are your generation, pretty much) don’t harbor such attitudes. But I’d urge you to go out and view some of the videos of alt-right rallies and activities. They represent a blend of generations for sure, but a majority of the people appear to be Millennials or Gen-Xs. So, you in turn may need to be careful when using the collective “we.”

        How old is alt-right darling Milo Yiannopoulos? He looks like a pretty young guy to me.

        Finally, I will comment that at no time in my life, observing several generations including people born near the end of the 19th century, have I ever observed group acceptance of a minority (as in, “some of my best friends are. . .”) stand in the way of some of those acceptors harboring bigotry in abstract. Bigotry in abstract is what results in the paradox of a people hiding (for example) Jews in their attics, at the same time they overall support a regime that is sending The Jew to the gas chamber.

        • Sebastian says:

          The alt-right resurgence of the younger generation, who I think later might end up being whatever follows Millennials once people notice and agree they have different attitudes and perceptions is worrisome. They’ve found their rebellion against the prevailing zeitgeist in the chans and gamer community.

          I don’t know where all this is going, but things are definitely a changin’.

        • mike says:

          What? It’s like you’re going down a list of talking points. The “alt-right” is made up of what? As many as 100,000 people? Probably a lot less, since nobody even heard of it until Hillary Clinton brought it up as a way to label Republicans racists, again.

          I saw some of the DNC Chair debate. For the sake of the country, I truly hope the left keeps clinging to this failed strategy. If the GOP infiltrated the DNC to come up with a strategy to ensure massive victories for the next few election cycles, I don’t think they do better than what the Dems are doing right now, which is doubling down on everything that lost them the White House.

          Clinton got 37% of the white vote. Apparently they think they need to get that a little lower. “Out-of-work machinist in Ohio, you’re a racist and are dripping in privilege. Remember to vote Democrat thanks gotta run!”

          See also:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-_InohMt_w

          • Whetherman says:

            “The “alt-right” is made up of what? As many as 100,000 people?”

            How many Nazis were there at the time of the Beer Hall Putsch?

            Forgive me if I get the precise number wrong, but in 1928 the Nazis got something like 5.6 percent of the German vote.

            In 1933 Hitler became Chancellor.

            Nevertheless, it would be five more years before Kristallnacht went down.

            Put me in the camp of the East Enders, who in 1936 physically attacked Sir Oswald Mosley’s Union of British Fascists and the police that supported them, in the Battle of Cable Street. Many historians credit that action with preventing England from going fascist, with all of the horrors for the world that would have entailed.

            Take nothing as insignificant.

            • mike says:

              “Take nothing as insignificant.”

              Yeah, like Godwin’s law. It’s going to be an interesting 8 years.

              • Whetherman says:

                “Yeah, like Godwin’s law.”

                I actually think poor Godwin was innocent enough in his intent, but it wouldn’t be hard to craft a story that he was an alt-right putz who was putting forth a meme that, when someone called attention to the Nazi/Fascist tactics that would shortly be applied to American politics, they would be instantly shouted down for doing so.

                Sorry, when there are “Ominous Parallels” (a somewhat obscure book by Professor Leonard Peikoff of the Ayn Rand Institute) I intend to call them out, and Godwin can shove it.

    • Richard says:

      Actually many on the left, like say Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, have said things like that for many years. Antisemitism is mostly a leftist phenomena.

      • Whetherman says:

        So you’re saying The Right has turned left?

        I’d been noticing that, but I thought it was just me. :-)

  3. Andy Barniskis says:

    I just want to tell one of my frequent “old stories” that I admit may be so dated as to seem irrelevant to our current situation. But, it was my experience, and it has always troubled me.

    Perhaps twenty years ago I and two other officers of our county gun rights group were summoned to the state capitol, to be lobbied by two “Friend-of-the-Sportsmen” Republican state representatives. They were pushing some sort of Gun Control Lite masked as Get Tough On Crime legislation, and we had been resisting it and criticizing it.

    When we failed to be wowed by their majesty and status, and continued to criticize the bill, they suddenly switched tactics, and started telling us horror stories about pretty little blonde-haired, blue-eyed convenience store clerks raped and mutilated by [n-words] with illegal guns.

    I emphasize their use of the [n-word].

    We were wearing suits and had fresh haircuts. At least two out of the three of us had advanced degrees, and spoke articulate, grammatical English. But apparently they thought that with Caucasian gun guys, the final drop-dead persuader would be to imply that by resisting their legislation, we were supporting those animal-like “[n-words].”

    I would not have used that language at all, but supposing I did, I would not have used it with strangers in a corner gin-mill, much less constituents in a Capitol office. I have wondered ever since, what in their experience had steered them to think we would find it persuasive? What was the perceived alignment?

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