the New York Times is still around, and still often worth your while in spite of its descents into Judith Millerhood, the Whitewater Hoax, and many another sin. Today's issue I particularly commend to your attention. Somebody in the corporate media finally gets around to actually trying to find out what the whole Tea Party thing is all about, with this lengthy venture into cultural anthropology by David Barstow. Bottom line: it's pretty much the same old Patriot Militia/John Birch Society wackiness that's been around forever, but the new phenomenon is that a lot of people who have suddenly been wiped out economically and need some sort of an explanation for what's happened to them and somebody to blame have suddenly latched onto it, often with a push from Glenn Beck.
That may not be a big surprise to you but it is a bit disconcerting to read how radicalized and violently alienated a whole lot of previously very ordinary, apolitical people have become. Hard times. It is very helpful that on the same day, Michiko Kakutani reviews David Aaronovitch's Voodo Histories. Still mystified by the whole thing? Aaronovitch makes the glass so clear, it seems to disappear, as summarized by Kakutani. "[O]verarching theories [i.e., conspiracy theories that blame shadowy elites] tend to be “formulated by the politically defeated and taken up by the socially defeated, ”losers 'left behind by modernity.'” Quoting Aaronovich:
If it can be proved that there has been a conspiracy, which has transformed politics and society, then their defeat is not the product of their own inherent weakness or unpopularity, let alone their mistakes; it is due to the almost demonic ruthlessness of their enemy.
The great tragedy and disgrace, of course, is that progressives have utterly failed to address these people -- to acknowledge the profound pain out there in the country, to explain its source, and to commit themselves to a program to heal it. When the blithering idiot Sarah Palin asks, "How's that Hopey Changey thing working out for you?" she has an excellent point. So far it isn't working out for people at all, and Obama and the congressional Democrats aren't talking to them. Glenn Beck is. Why? I have a conspiracy theory about that . . .