Monday, July 16, 2007

Keith Ellison: Muslims and Atheists and Nazis, Oh My!

Will the state of public discourse, freighted with postmodern ironies and disengenuous anti-intellectual sloganeering, ever emerge from its current condition as something resembling principled, reasoned debate? I don't consider myself naive, or a fool, or even an old fogey pining for "the good old days". I understand that (for now) postmodern America overlooks hypocrisy or character deficiencies in anyone as long as the person or persons involved a) have no moral standards to begin with, b) are perceived as "fighting the good fight" in a different cause deemed worthy to the given worldview, or c) are part of a protected class created as a result of priviledge-based guilt, notions of a universally inclusive, morally neutral society, or in reaction to perceived historical injustices. So those who fail us and also fail to meet the above requirements are given the equivalent of a "Go Directly to Jail - Do Not Get 15 More Minutes" card and the rest are perhaps rapped on the knuckles but are otherwise free to go. How else explain can one explain Al Sharpton, or the Clinton Dynasty?

In addition, the growing partisan desire to "defend one's own" and "get the word out at all costs" has led to even higher level of sniping and crosstalk, instead of issue-oriented debate. As a result loons and publicity hounds with suspect motives like Anne Coulter and Michael Moore are still getting airtime because their high visibility and easily identifiable ideology trump their often insidious rhetoric.

I guess it's going to get worse before it gets better because, like tryouts for a new season of reality TV, there seems to be no shortage of new applicants for the Crazy (Like a Fox?) Club.

The Newest Kid on the Block is a freshman Muslim congressman named Keith Ellison. Ellison's remarks at at a noontime speech before the group Atheists for Human Rights have already made the rounds in the blogosphere and are now radiating out into the world at large. This is the same Ellison who, aided by a one-two punch from a sympathetic MSM and a couple of comically rabid reactionary pundits, successfully painted his colleague Virgil Goode as a racist when Goode objected to Ellison's decision to be sworn into office using the Qu'ran.

It sounds strange to use "muslim pundit" and "chutzspah" in the same sentence, but I guess we're all Semites on this bus. In any case, here are a few choice excerpts from the afore-mentioned love fest from Gehenna:

"You'll always find this Muslim standing up for your right to be atheists"
Well, at least he used a qualifying "this", but apart from the fact that he makes no sense (does this mean he is a "bad" Muslim?) the statement not only makes the incredible claim that Islam is the only tolerant religion in the world but does so in the most nauseatingly sycophantic tone pssible. That's pretty good for a 13 word sentence!

"It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted. The fact is that I'm not saying [Sept. 11] was a plan, or anything like that because, you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box -- dismiss you."

The "Bush is Hitler" slur in the above has been remarked on everywhere, but I think this paragraph's real significance is it's detailing of an increasingly common tactic of the Political Thug:

1. Make a sweeping and offensive statement.
2. Give the statement the appearance of historical credibility or deeper truth.
3. Immediately and subtly qualify your statement to cover your rear in case of controversy.
4. Take a last postmodern swipe at the opposition by complaining about the fact that you have to even engage in such subterfuge, thereby retaining your ideological purity among your listeners.

How someone can make such a public pronouncement and still feel a sense of personal dignity is beyond me. I mean, the checks cash and the people applaud, but it's just you and your Maker and your reflection in the hotel mirror when all is said and done.

Finally, if you thought the above was some kind of political joke or Theater of the Absurd, Atheists for Human Rights spokesperson Marie Castle provides the punch line:

"We're trying to upgrade the image of atheists. They don't think we have a moral compass."

As with a child who exhibits bad behavior to get attention it is tempting to shout, Sean Hannity-like, "Where's the outrage here!?" but you know that's only giving this guy what he wants. The current political climate rewards these kind of outbursts by giving people like Keith Ellison a platform - unless, of course, their target is white males or the current administration.

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