Thursday, March 6, 2014

Vulgar Libertarians, Homicidal Rulers, Ignorant Rappers

10 notes on troubling political phenomena -- and various terrible places you can get into political trouble:

1. FUTURE AMERICA: You may recall that I recently discussed our possible fascist-robot future in this engaging video chat about RoboCop with Gerard Perry (directed by Matt Brandenburgh)...

2. CANADA: ...and next we’ll likely post one on 300: Rise of an Empire, with asides about (centuries-later) Islam.  Luckily, we will not be discussing the touchy topic of Islam in Canada like my acquaintance Ezra Levant, who Gerard notes is in trouble again.

3. THE INTERNETS: Gerard and I have other trouble-making acquaintances, though, including a partly New York-based cabal of mischievous young anarcho-capitalists, spawned by what we like to call a Facebook “Trollboard” but now out in public as the blog Vulgar Libertarians.

5. VIET NAM/ALBUQUERQUE: The aforementioned libertarians are the ones who sometimes get depicted as politically-naughty characters by mainstream society, but in a sane world, wouldn’t the character who Bryan Cranston begins portraying on Broadway today -- namely, Lyndon Johnson -- be seen as far scarier than we are, indeed, scarier even than Walter White?

6. AIR FORCE ONE: This year marks not only the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act but likely the fiftieth anniversary, per journalist Ronald Kessler, of LBJ bragging to two governors: “I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.”  Again, who here is the truly vulgar one? 

7. THE GHETTO: And before you make the inane, cultural-context-dropping argument that it should be OK for white people to say it if black people can say it (an argument I have never bought), please note that even rappers have standards of etiquette -- and some have even begun to lament, like Allan Bloom and so many before them, that today’s artists are forgetting the ideals embodied by the classics.

8. THE MARKETING DEPARTMENT PRETENDING TO BE GHETTO: Far worse, if you ask me, than a rapper having a gangsta persona for the duration of a song or two, is a current Converse sneakers video ad that non-ironically asks, over moody black-and-white filmed images, that we imagine how wonderful it would be to turn the world upside down and shake all its lunch money loose, since “they aren’t going to just give it to you.”  It even ends by asking the world, “How much have you got?”

I guess Converse has decided to appeal directly to the pro-violence, pro-theft crowd.  Grotesque -- and as cynical as it gets. 

9. OLD-TIMEY AMERICA: Of course, why should I expect dimwitted ad execs hawking sneakers to understand the underlying moral and legal rules that make their economic existences possible?  Conservatives don’t get it either.  Here’s a former Bush administration official, Robert W. Patterson, denouncing markets and the growing libertarian trend within conservatism, while praising the authoritarian, trust-busting, government-growing -- and, yes, very racist-imperialist -- Teddy Roosevelt.

10. UKRAINE AND OTHER “BLOODLANDS”: And as eternal reminders that things could always get worse, here (h/t Ronald Radosh) are Hitler and Stalin, compared and contrasted by historian Tim Snyder (who is a good thing to come out of Brown, and now Yale, and who wrote the book Bloodlands about the slaughter on all sides in that region during and around WWII).

Overall, though, I’d say we should do less fretting about the vulgarity of the masses and more about the outright psychoses of their murderous “leaders.”

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