Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Baiting To Oblivion

I actually think Bob Somerby is a pedantic scold who knows better than most how to beat a dead horse to pulp. There are things I respect about him, which is why his site has been linked to your right ever since I figured out how to lay such things out. His neverending mewling over the rape of Al Gore is a fine example of my characterization; he's not wrong on the facts or the substance, and there's no statute of limitations on the crimes the media, Gore's political opponents, and the Supremes perpetrated against him. On the other hand, Somerby's nearly decade-old vendetta against his media contemporaries is getting a bit stale, and frankly, I'm not going to start liking Chris Matthews now that he sometimes pretends to be a liberal again. Al's rich enough to pay for his carbon offsets. In the scheme of preventable and rightable crimes against humanity, there's stuff I'd rather lose sleep over.

I've come close, a few times, to writing about Somerby and The Daily Howler, but on those occasions when I've felt quite nearly peeved enough to comment, my grievance has turned out to be reducible to triviality, not worth the effort to log in to Blooger, either to write about it or to take him off my blogroll. It's probably true that my reaction to Somerby is visceral; his tone and phrasing and emphasis sometimes--maybe too often--come off as pure-D concern troll. But I don't think that's what he is. He is genuinely a liberal, and the problem enters because he's ideologically, epistemologically, and dialectically pure. Admirable traits--but not qualities that make him seem like something other than a concern troll (and truly, it's not like he's looking for a fight, like a real concern troll--he has no comments functionality on his blog, and I haven't seen him turning up in other peoples' neighborhoods chiding them for not caring enough that Al Gore is leaking Naomi Wolf's bodily fluids).

Wow. Two introductory paragraphs on love and hate, just because I'm intrigued by an idea Somerby has. I guess I feel I need to justify--to myself, since I'm the one both writing and reading this--linking to the guy's major product. It's fairly obvious that Somerby has a knack for twisting my nads about my own complicity, as if I needed more help with that (and at a far more personal level than Somerby could provide) than I get nearly every day.

Anyway, Somerby is pitching the idea that we're killing ourselves by screaming that the Teabaggers (an epithet he hates, but he can, well, lick my bag, to make a related dick joke that he'd particularly despise, because his various forms of purity include a, well, puritanical streak and an obsession with fairness toward people who are completely unconcerned about being fair to us) are racists. I'm unable to conclude that he's wrong. It's hard not to conclude that Teabaggers are stupid--they are. It's hard not to conclude that they're largely racists--they are. There's simply no rational argument about either, and little or no point in engaging the argument. But Somerby is painfully correct when he calculates the political wisdom of banging on those two drums without far more substantial and compelling accompaniment.

Yesterday's post notwithstanding, I genuinely try not to scold for real. Anything I write about dogma-N isn't really a scold; it's another chapter in 40 years of rough-and-tumble, yet purely playful, oneupsmanship with one of my most trusted confidantes, and in a long process of trying to entertain one another. Seriously scolding Somerby for scolding me (and you) gives me pause; but like Celia the Sylph, he's far too impressed with how fucking right and pure and good he is. Which doesn't mean he's wrong about how we ought to discourse publically with and about pig-ignorant racists.


ilse said...

Look, I SAID I was sorry, okay?

Sasha said...

That first link is rotten. That second link is rotten too.

I can rarely force myself to read an entire Somerby piece because his pedantry bores me to tears. And I read damn bread labels. That said,he's right and wrong about the Baggers. (As an aside, I'm willing to call them all tea parties as long as we collectively agree that it is the mad hatter's tea party and not the revolutionary war one which was all about corporate greed anyway.)

He's right in that they aren't worth the attention, that the attention only feeds them. But he's wrong because it isn't us ants who are attending to the Baggers. It is the media which seems to be taken with groups of 40 people acting stupid. We know that the Baggers are grown and supported by Faux News and all of the other outlets seem to be competing with them instead of considering anything similar to journalism.

Also. Somerby is doing what he is complaining about. That makes it even more difficult to take him seriously.

Landru said...

Fixted. Thanks for the heads-up, don't know how my links got bloogered.

Jim H. said...

Yeah. The baggers have a vast PR mechanism. When you're dealing with raw let's call it 'passion', rational argument matters not a whit; noisiness is all that matters. It's a 'Brer Rabbit' in the briarpatch scenario (forgive my crackerness).

I don't think Palin cares if she's right or wrong, just spell her name right. Pugnacious ignorance is their style now (it attracts the disaffected); doctrinal coherence to follow.

So yeah, attacking them—at this point in the game—is complicitous. It fuels the fires.

I'd like to say ignore them and they'll go away, but they have too many media outlets in the bag, so to speak.

Jim H.

P.S. Honored to be listed beside you at BDR's joint.