Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dispatches #15

Posted By on 11.06.08 at 01:42 PM

Alex Ross: "The last time I heard spontaneous singing in Union Square was in the days after September 11, 2001."

After this brutal campaign, the explicit patriotism of the fairly young and by appearances quite pre-upper-middle-class crowd in Grant Park was moving. Not that I doubted it; it's complicated. Side note:

(I don't think the young left is unpatriotic, but occasionally their/our skepticism about the American project or even just the people who happen to be in charge of it right now can express itself in cheap ways ["George W. Bush Is a Punk-Ass Chump"]. I'm thinking in particular about hearing boos during a National Guard trailer before a screening of An Inconvenient Truth, which probably has more to do with broad, cheap cynicism and immaturity than anything terribly specific, and these expressions tend to be few and far between and are probably nothing that should keep you up at night. Occasional and largely meaningless though it may be, it still raises the hair on my neck. I've no beef with people who throw down about history because they're answering to a higher power, like Jeremiah Wright, but when it comes from a smaller place, it raises my hackles a bit. Sorry; moving on.)

One of the problems of the past eight years, for people like me, is that the progressive left had to be in deeply trenched opposition against the powers that be for so long about so many things--in opposition not only to Bush/Cheney/Addington/Gonzalez et al but to the often feckless Democratic party as well, sometimes including the president-elect, cf. the telecom immunity bill--that it was read as being in opposition to something much greater than the political scene.

Now that the scene has changed, I hope and suspect that the history of the past eight years will be rewritten to more accurately reflect the deep patriotism of the American left. That's why I've made a point to note these sorts of spontaneous outbursts, just as I keep an eye out for the first flowers of spring.

Update: the point where my head almost exploded over all this was when the sitting president of the United States sneered at the "angry left" during this year's RNC. I read The Dark Side; I've got a right to be righteously hostile. "You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to 'preserve, protect, and defend it.'"

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