How’s this for an epiphany? There is no progressive party; there are no progressives; there is no progressive movement or structure of any type. There are neither progressive politicians nor progressive platforms. There are only fragmented websites viewed by atomized individuals glued to their computer screens that have reduced “progressives” to a shriveled label that rattles around cyberspace like a dead pea pod signifying nothing. And in this vast wasteland that is cyberspace a disparate gaggle of individuals hang this label round their necks, festoon their bumpers with the appropriate stickers and call for a “progressive position” on this, that and the other thing.
How else do we explain how the right is able to frame issues in the most absurd manner imaginable and get ways with it time after time? Repeatedly, the right spits out a buzz word, then bends over and spreads its cheeks before chuckling when it becomes apparent that nobody on the left is going to pick up this buzz word and shove it up the right’s collective ass.
The latest example of this is the dust-up over “The Mosque at Ground Zero,” a beautiful little catch phrase that displays the Goebbelian compression that makes these phrases so effective.
Sounds scary, doesn’t it? What a slap in our face! A mosque on the very spot where Islamofascist terrorists reduced the twin towers to rubble. (Yes, Islamofascist still works because the left lacks the moxie to drive home the truth that the word is little more than a meaningless puff of bulldust. That’s dried bullshit for those of you who are interested. This is what happens when a buzzword ages and bullshit becomes dust. This is bullshit in its most dangerous form because the stench has dissipated and people have become so accustom to its presence that it seems a natural part of the environment.)
The problem with the phrase “The Mosque at Ground Zero” is that it’s neither a mosque nor is it at Ground Zero. What is being built is a community center on New York City’s Park Row, across from City Hall, a long two and one-half blocks from Ground Zero. According to Stephan Salisbury, the center will include “an auditorium, spa, basketball court, swimming pool, classrooms, exhibition space, a community meeting space, a 9/11 memorial and, yes, a prayer space for Muslims.”
A prayer space or room is not a mosque. It is simply a place where Muslims can go to spread their prayer rugs and pray to Mecca. A similar prayer room is found is the Pentagon, in the same building in which 184 people died on 9/11.
But, in spite of its absurdity, “The Mosque at Ground Zero” continues to stir passions and fears. This is largely because the Left, once again, has allowed the right to frame the issue and seems unwilling to challenge its premises. You see, the left believes that reason is useless against passion and bigotry. This may be true, but truth fired by passion is very effective, as the Civil Rights movement discovered when it broke down the barriers erected by Jim Crow legislation. But then, the left is as ignorant of history as is the right. So, gosh, if you can’t reason with bigots you might as well fold your tents and crawl home with your tail between your legs. You don’t want to do anything that might make the right angry.
Bigotry is a paranoid’s playground. It is the one place where unreasonable fears gain traction and are taken seriously. In a sane society, a proposal such as the one put forth by Rep. Louis Gohmer (R.-Tex.) would have been laughed off the floor of the House of Representatives. The good congressman is worried that terrorists are gaming our open democratic society. According to Gohmer, terrorists plan to flood our shores with pregnant Muslim women who will stay long enough to give birth to their children on American soil thus insuring their U.S. citizenship before taken them back home where they would be trained as terrorists to return twenty to thirty years later with U.S. passports to “help destroy our way of life ‘cause they figured out how stupid we are being in this country to allow our enemies to game our system, hurt our economy, get set up in a position to destroy our way of life.” (In Gohmer’s world stupidity is defined as failure to buy into the fantasies of a paranoid mind.
His solution? Change the 14th Amendment that grants citizenship to anyone born in the United States. So just being born here would not be enough to guarantee an individual citizenship. The newborn must be of the right descent, the right heritage and the right culture in order to qualify for citizenship. Otherwise, the newborn’s incubator would be set afloat in the Atlantic or Pacific to ob its way back to its country of origin. ‘Tis a vision to warm the cockles of a patriot’s heart. Thus is America kept pure and safe as flotillas of incubators catch homeward bound currents where, of course, the young ‘urns would be much happier than in the land of the bigoted and the prejudiced.
You see, Rep. Gohmer simply wants to protect “our way of life,” which these militant neonates are out to destroy. “Our way of life” is another buzzword that draws its effectiveness from its total lack of meaning. The image it evokes from the TV set of “Father Knows Best” or “Ozzie and Harriet.” It is a life built around images of Mom and Apple Pie that conveniently overlook the fact that mom is working two or three jobs just to keep food on the table so the apple pie, if there is any, is purchased frozen from the local supermarket. For the lucky few, our way of life is an exercise in materialistic hedonism in which well being is judged by the number of useless toys one is able to amass.
Bigotry and fear are boons for those who seek power for power’s sake. Bile is excellent filler for an empty soul whose life is without vision or meaning. To stoke fear and to pump it into the corridors of power like an odorless but deadly gas gives a thin veneer of meaning to lives that are otherwise meaningless.
But, what the hell! Anti-Muslim and anti-brown skin bigotry is breaking out all over the northern hemisphere. France wants to ban full-face veils; anti-immigrant political parties are gaining popularity in Europe; and the U.S. is fencing off Mexico but not Canada (the right sort of people live up there).
Could this be the last hurrah of the white folks as they watch their oil-driven way of life sink beneath the surface of the water for the third time?
Fastidiousness has always been the midwife of oppression. Keep the corpse scrubbed and clean and people might think it is still alive. Wear facemasks and latex gloves and you create a bulwark against misfortune. If you surround yourself with people just like you, on a summer evening on your condo patio with the Tiki torches blazing, you can maintain the illusion that God is in his little heaven and all is well with the world. Ramp up the volume on the stereo and the sound of a crumbling lifestyle is soon drowned out.
It doesn’t get much better than that!