Monday, November 08, 2004

Let's talk just a little bit about hysteria

I want to take people like Maureen Dowd seriously.

Stop laughing. No, STOP. I mean it. I actually admire her writing, she really does grab you. I want to take her concerns about the country seriously, and I want to take seriously the concerns of people like her -- people who are so incredibly possessed of the notion that the victory -- perhaps I should use a less inflammatory term -- the *cough* Near Defeat of Bush means that we're all going to be eating the flesh of all those non-aborted babies in a few years as we grub about in the grime and filth just beyond Thunderdome.

That's going a bit far; color me guilty of hyperdystopiating. It's contagious.

Yes, the idea of an ultra-conservative court is a frightening one. But, as a good friend said to me the other day, "I'm all out of fear." I'm twenty-seven years old, and I understand that completely. How can our ears be so numb, and the ears of so many purportedly older and wiser, tenured and respected writers be so sensitive? Forget that; they're paid to be loud. What's wrong with all the normal people? (Did I sound like a Democrat, there? Oops! Gosh I'd hate for the two sides to have anything in common.)

I feel I'm in a special position, as regards apocalypse. I spent my "I know everything" years as a fundamentalist (and therefore evangelical) Southern Baptist. I would have said, before last week, that there is no greater height of knowing-everythingness from which to fall...

But this isn't last week, this is this week, and my benumbed ears got a good drenching of acid in the fallout after the *cough, hack* Near Defeat. (Note: must get that hairball problem looked at.)

I've heard Americans talk about how this country needs to be taken down a notch. I've heard them say things about praying for natural disasters, and how the mighty will fall. I have heard Americans call other Americans dupes of Evil and slaves to darkness.

I'm not talking about last week.

I'm talking about when I was in highschool, surrounded by a group of older and entrenched SoBaptists, casually chatting about the increase in earthquakes around the world and making comparisons to Revelation. Exchanging homespun philosophy on pornography and homosexuality, while shaking their heads lustily in memory of good ol' Sodom and Gomorrah.

Imagine my shock to hear not only the same sentiment and tone, but even the same language, frequently, out the mouths of self-proclaimed atheists.

I'm delighted. Now I don't have to consign Chicken Littleism to the ranks of the Religious Right. Which is good, because I do still cherish my religious roots, misguided as some of the policies inspired by its adherents might be. One needn't be religious, to be blinded by the glory of an imaginary apocalypse; evidently this is just human nature. What a relief!

But Demo-pundits: if I tell you that you sound like the Left Behind series, would that give you some idea of the level of silliness I'm referring to?

Both MoDo and Left Behind get quite a good readership, you know. We, as human beings, prefer vindication to perspective, and drama to reality.

So what is the reality?

I wouldn't presume to say. I promise you absolutely that we're going to find out at the exact rate of sixty seconds per minute, sixty minutes per hour, twenty-four hours per day, for some days to come, and then perhaps some more days after that. At this point in my life, all I know is how to spot what not to believe. This much I can promise: it becomes very easy to spot what won't happen after you hear it phrased exactly the same way in exactly the same tone, regardless of the mouth of issuance.

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Edit: Except for the profanity. Just switch the "amen"'s with "fuck"'s and it's the same shtick.

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Edit again: More here.