A Call for the Contempt of Silence
Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?
Joseph Welch, spoken to Joe McCarthy
In the lifecycle of every bully and pompous blowhard comes a special turning point. After scowling, abusing and intimidating their way through life, generating the vilest of karma wherever they treat, there finally comes a point for such bullies that seems unthinkable during the heights of their influence and power--that time when people just. stop. listening. The time when people are simply unfazed by even their heaviest bluster.
For Richard III, there finally came a time when no one would even lend him a horse to flee from certain death. For Julius Caesar, the petulant request for just one demonstration of support even as he fell dying--returned only with a final dagger's thrust. For Saddam Hussein, a shackled walk of ignominy out of courtroom even as he bellowed in protest about his Iraq. For Joe McCarthy, disgrace came in the form of a simple question expressed from dismayed disbelief.
But when, at long last, will that moment come for the rabid ideologues of the right wing? Our generation has been long in need of our own earthshattering moment of final disrespect; for almost every word of disdain that can be uttered in response to these villains has been uttered at this point--save that of shocked silence, turned backs and averted gazes.
What else, indeed is left?
In today's National Review Online and Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes tells us that we should "not give up when victory is at hand" in Iraq. This highly respected pundit and Fox News correspondent has the gall to write paragraphs like:
No one knows the tragic story of America in Vietnam better than Jim Webb, first as a Marine, then as a writer. So the newly elected Democratic senator from Virginia--a fierce opponent of the war in Iraq--wants to keep Vietnam out of the debate over Iraq. "As much as possible, we need to keep this debate away from Vietnam," Webb said last week. Iraq "is not a parallel situation." But Webb feared that many who supported the Vietnam war, and watched America abandon South Vietnam as it grew close to victory over the Communist forces of North Vietnam, might see similarities.
Indeed, they might, for certain parallels between Iraq and Vietnam are uncanny. A new general, David Petraeus, is taking over in Iraq with a credible new strategy, counterinsurgency. Four decades ago, General Creighton Abrams became the American commander in Vietnam, also with a new strategy. It called for taking and holding the villages and hamlets of South Vietnam. In a word, it was counterinsurgency, and it worked. Now in Iraq, Petraeus has as good a chance of success, starting with the pacification of Baghdad, as Abrams had. And the painful lesson of Vietnam applies in Iraq: Don't give up when victory is at hand.
What is one supposed to say to such baldfaced lies and atrocious propaganda? There is no snark, no vehemence, no derision, no anger, no outrage that could fully do it justice.
What else is left but the contempt of silence?
What else is left for America's biggest bully, when he complains about the "militant left" conflating militant Christians with moderate ones--out of the same breath he uses to condemn all Muslims as militant? What can one do but turn one's back, replicating one of the final and most powerful scenes of the play "Twelve Angry Men"?
What is one to say to stuffed shirt Dinesh D'Souza in response to a book with the title "The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11". Can one do anything more than avert one's gaze, and hope people see through it for the utter crap that it is?
When Jonah Goldberg, widely published columnist and moron of the first degree, writes Liberal Fascism: Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton, are there truly any words that are appropriate? Any that can be repeated in polite company, at any rate?
When America's #1 talk-radio host can say that "Pacifist kooks are as dangerous as Al-Qaeda" without shame; when America's #2 talk-radio host repeats debunked lies about one of America's most respected Senators having trained at a Wahhabists madrassa, when America's #3 talk radio host can say without shame about Democratic applause for healthcare during the SOTU that "Heathcare . . . Democrats stand first. They must like sick people more than Republicans"--when that's the case, is there anything to do but just turn off the radio?
When two of those assholes--Hannity and Beck--each get the 6pm primetime slot on the two most-watched cable news networks on television, is there truly anything to do but to stop watching altogether?
And don't even get me started on the quotes of the actual elected officials.
Because what, at long last, is left? What, at long last, would they have to say before the public just started tuning out? To what levels of depravity and lengths of wingnutty outrage would they have to stoop before people just started pulling the plug? How wrong would they have to be before the media simply stopped giving them credence?
At what point, in short, do we stop even arguing with them, and start treating them with the utter contempt that they so richly deserve?
I'm beyond anger or outrage at this point. I've moved into the realm of utter disrespect and sheer contempt. The time is ripe for Democrats, progressives, realists, moderate Republicans, and true conservatives (as opposed corporate shills) to simply stand them down and shun them.
Give them no airtime. Never appear on their shows. Never respond to their insults, save possibly by telling them to go to hell. If they buy time on the public airwaves to smear your name, treat them with the contempt they deserve.
The time for a devastating wall of silence for these people is long overdue.