Part 2—Being against Ted Cruz: We’ll admit it:
We were thrilled by William Dalrymple’s column in Saturday’s New York Times, which we repeatedly read. See our previous post in this series.
We were thrilled when we went upstairs to watch the tape of Malala Yousafzai’s address at the United Nations in July, on her sixteenth birthday.
We were thrilled to see this very unusual person declare her lineage from the greatest souls in world history, starting with “the Lord Buddha” and moving through Dr. King and Mandela. We’ll recommend watching that speech, which runs about 17 minutes.
Given the degradation of our own political culture, we were intrigued to see this unusual voice emerge from a different part of the world. In her address, Malala referred to the philosophy of nonviolence she had learned from “Ganghiji.”
She said she was honored to be wearing a shawl which had belonged to “Benazir Bhutto Shaheed.”
We looked up the honorifics. Roughly, she was referring to the great Gandhi and to Benazir Bhutto, martyr.
Beyond that, we were struck by the following statement, which instantly made us think of our own degraded culture:
“Dear sisters and brothers, I am not against anyone.”
The emphasis was hers. What does it mean, to not be against anyone?
We’ll recommend that you watch the address and see the way Malala unspooled it. We were surprised to learn that a widely-employed modern precept tracks to the 1929 autobiography in which Gandhi wrote this:
“Hate the sin and not the sinner” is a precept which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world.
Whatever! At any rate, American liberals are now being trained, every night, in the best ways to be against. Consider the training we liberals received on The One True Channel last Monday.
At 7 PM, Chris Matthews appeared. He emerged from the weekend spilling with bluster.
Ted Cruz had said a very bad thing. Chris was quite strongly against.
“Cruz out of control,” the offended host barked as the program began. Then, he handed us this pile of bullroar:
MATTHEWS (10/21/13): Good evening. I’m Chris Matthews, out in Chicago. Let me start tonight with this:We agree with Chris on one basic point—he was asking a stupid question. He was also training American liberals in the best ways to be very dumb, in the ways to be dumbly against.
It’s a little weird, but is Chicago part of America? Is Philadelphia, my hometown, where I’m going to address the National Constitution Center tomorrow? Is Philly part of America? Is LA? Is San Francisco? Is Austin, Texas?
The reason I’m asking this stupid question is because this partisan gunslinger, Ted Cruz, is out there today defining who is and who isn’t an American. Remember Michele Bachmann asking the press on this show to conduct a person-to-person investigation of who in the U.S. Congress is anti-American? Well, Cruz is worse.
The same senator who suggested the nominee for defense secretary was taking money from the Communists in North Korea now decrees what part of this country are in and which parts are out, which parts are American and which parts aren’t. This is McCarthyism writ large. Disagree with this guy, and be prepared for the accusations.
As you can see, Chris was training us to be against Ted Cruz. According to the red-faced host, Cruz had offered “an indictment against the great majority of Americans” over the weekend. Incredibly, Cruz had decreed which parts of the country are American and which parts aren’t!
“To oppose his brand of right-wing politics is to stand accused by him of being un-American,” the red-faced talker alleged. American liberals were being trained in the way to be against
At this point, gasping for air, Chris played the actual tape of what Cruz had actually said. Quickly, he paraphrased for us.
When he did, he played the ultimate Hate Card:
MATTHEWS (continuing directly): Cruz returned to his supporters this weekend, where he got shouts of approval Saturday night from his most fervent backers. Here he is, drawing the line between them and his following senators, and by the way, all the people represented in Washington.Wow! Even for Matthews, that was an especially ugly translation of a very familiar type of stock joke. According to Matthews, Cruz was saying that white people in Texas are Americans, but black people in cities are not.
CRUZ (videotape): Having spent the past month up in D.C., it is really great to be back in America.
MATTHEWS: Howard Fineman’s editorial director of the Huffington Post and David Corn is Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones. Both are, of course, MSNBC political analysts.
Howard, this isn’t a casual reference. This is, “We’re Americans, we white people out here in Texas, as opposed to people who live in the big cities, the ethnics, the blacks, the browns. Those people in Washington, those liberals, they’re not Americans.”
This guy either has a total lack of understanding of American history and the hell we went through in the McCarthy period or he knows it damn well and is playing that card. What do you think it is, knowledge or ignorance?
Chris is determined to make you a hater. Sadly, Howard Fineman was up to the challenge posed by his terrible host. Both men are paid by The One True Channel to tell you things like this:
FINEMAN (continuing directly): No, no. I think— I think he knows what, I think he knows exactly what he’s doing. I think he knows what landmines he’s stepping on, and I think he wants to step on them because his basic appeal is emotional. It’s basically, "Us Against Them."Howard even played the secession card, thus training us further in The Hate. Howard Fineman was teaching us liberals how to be against.
And of course, it’s highly ironic that he was speaking in the only state in the union, I think, that has an active secessionist movement going on, namely Texas.
Can we discuss what Cruz actually said? He told a very lame, very stale joke, a type of joke which is completely familiar in our lamebrain politics.
Chris is completely familiar with this old trope. So is his echo, Fineman.
Please! In telling that tired old joke, Cruz wasn’t saying that Chicago isn’t part of America. Quite literally, Cruz was saying that Washington, D.C.—governmental Washington—isn’t part of America.
Just go back and read what he said.
This is the stalest reference in our very stale politics. In our view, it’s very tired and very dumb, but it’s also very familiar. As Matthews and Fineman understand, it isn’t a reference to Philadelphia. And it isn’t a reference to “white people,” or by ugly extension to “people who live in the big cities, the ethnics, the blacks, the browns.”
Matthews was simply spreading The Hate. As he has done for the past fifteen years, Fineman was playing along.
Way back when, these two fallen souls were spreading The Hate about Candidate Gore, working to get Bush elected. Now, The Channel pays them large sums to spread The Hate and The Dumb in a different direction.
Matthews was spreading pure hatred this night. Neither Fineman nor David Corn was willing to stand up and say so.
Three hours later, Lawrence came on. He too was eager to teach us how to be blindly, dumbly against.
This is the way an angry soul started his program that night:
O’DONNELL (10/21/13): The architect of the government shutdown, the senator leading the civil war inside the Republican Party, went home to Texas this weekend to continue his attack against the Republican Party. And when Rafael “Ted” Cruz went to speak to the Texas Federation of Republican Women, he got this welcome.Lawrence threw in Cruz’s formal first name, reminding us that he is Hispanic, perhaps hoping to spread The Hate. If you feel sure that isn’t what Lawrence did, you may not grasp the actual ways of our world.
CRUZ (videotape): That is a slightly different reception than I get in Washington, D.C. And having spent the past month up in D.C., it is really great to be back in America.
O’DONNELL: Nice. Classy. So there is a senator who is standing in a state that literally went to war with Washington, D.C., actually seceded from the union because it didn’t want to be part of America, and he is standing there in that state claiming now that that state, which used to be Mexico and less than 30 years after being part of Mexico, told America that it did not want to be part of the United States anymore?
Ted Cruz is standing there in that state claiming that that state is America, the state that tried to rip the United States of America apart. And that Washington, D.C., and maybe the states that succeeded in holding America together, are not America.
Lawrence played the Hate Card hard in that opening statement. He even played a 150-year old War Card, the way people do in the Balkans.
He urged his viewers to stay angry about the fact that Texas seceded from the union in 1861. He pretended that Cruz was “maybe” saying that “the states that succeeded in holding America together are not America.”
We’re going to tell you a little secret about where this particular hatred comes from. We had no clue about the following point until it was explained to us by a journalist who, like us, comes from a mid-century East Coast Irish Catholic background:
We Irish! Newly arrived in the 1860s, we got conscripted to fight in that damn Civil War! Ever since then, we were told by this journalist, there has been a special animus within some of our circles against Those People Down There.
That would never have occurred to us. But the pattern does seem fairly obvious once it has been suggested. Example: To see Jimmy Breslin attacking Candidate Gore in 1999 for his “quaint Tobacco Row customs,” just click here.
Warning! You're being exposed to journalistic porn if you click that link! For background on that ugly, factually bogus column, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/2/08.
Most of Us Irish have long since moved on. But those of us with the reddest of asses simply can’t surrender The Hate. We just can’t quit The Dumb.
Matthews has been a highly paid cable spear-chucker since the 1990s. Through the early part of this century, he worked as a spear-chucker for his conservative owner, Jack Welch, against both Clintons and Gore.
Now, he’s paid to chuck his spears in a different direction. For unknown reasons, O’Donnell has the reddest ass that ever emerged from Dorchester, home of our cousins in childhood.
“I am not against anyone,” a new voice from a different tradition said at the U.N. Meanwhile, on cable, we liberals are trained every night in dumb ways to be against.
Go ahead—watch the tape of that U.N. address! Can you hear the difference?
Tomorrow: Rachel Maddow, against
About that tradition from Gandhi: Gandhi is commonly said to have advanced “eleven vows.”
You almost surely wouldn’t want to follow some of those vows. We stand with you on that!
That said, one of those vows was satya—“truth.” Presumably, Chris, Howard and Lawrence all knew they were stomping that value last Monday.
In fairness, they were advancing three higher vows:
The vow to be extremely dumb. The vow to serve the paymaster. And, of course, the most obvious vow:
The vow to be against.
We humans love to be against. Did you watch the U.N. address?