Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Being There


So I have to admit, my first thought was, "There's just no way I could do it."

That seemed the most reasonable response -- and that was, after all, what this thing was all about, right? Being reasonable?

But then at some point over the last couple of days it hit me like a morbidly obese guy in a NASCAR t-shirt riding a scooter around the local Wal-Mart: For God's sake, I can't not go.

In the almost two years since Barack Obama was elected president, we've watched political discourse in this country degenerate into a bloodsport, an unprecedented free for all -- fueled largely by a right-wing element that completely lost its mind after losing the White House and exacerbated by the conflict-addicted media -- in which no accusation is too inflammatory or irresponsible to be considered out-of-bounds. Predominantly white, middle-aged Christian folks from far outside the country's urban hubs -- most, inherently decent people -- saw the ascendancy of Obama and were scared shitless, their overwhelming sense of dread a product of something much more profound than simply the color of the new president's skin; in him they found the perfect boogeyman, someone whose assumption of the most powerful position in the world proved that their country had morphed into something they'd never thought possible -- something beyond their control. Obama was a different color, was multi-ethnic, a citizen of the world -- and what's more, he was someone who wore his Ivy League education on his sleeve, an unapologetic intellectual whom they saw as just another coastal elitist who was sure he knew what was best for them. Barack Obama was proof that they were losing the country that almighty God and the constantly invoked Founding Fathers had bequeathed to them and them alone. America was their birthright, after all.

And so they struck back.

Coddled and exploited by shameless hucksters like Glenn Beck (who stokes their most primal terrors while simultaneously assuring them that they're not alone in being terrified) and Sarah Palin (who recklessly plays the role of agitator and kingmaker in a Reality-TV Revolution of which she is always the star), a small but vocal group of self-appointed "real Americans" have risen up to "take our country back." They lash out at targets that are laughably predictable, particularly in a harsh economic climate: Immigrants, blacks, Muslims, urban community groups aimed at keeping "welfare queens" comfortably attached to the teat provided by their tax dollars. But most of all, they lash out at the government which now, as far as they're concerned, not only panders to these outsiders but is actually run by one of them.

They create outlandish conspiracy theories -- the president isn't an American, the president is a Muslim, the president is coming for their guns -- and offer them up as fact, circulating them to each other with the lightning-fast efficiency that the digital age allows for. What's more, their leaders -- scared of their growing potency and realizing that their own political careers depend on the appeasement of this beast -- do nothing to stop the madness. Rather than dispel the ridiculous rumor and the absurd canards, they throw gasoline on the fire -- and often do it via a cable television network that has an awesome amount of sway within their world but virtually no sense of responsibility for the monster it's helped to create.

The end result: It's just fucking crazy out there right now.

It was Edmund Burke who supposedly first uttered a variation on the now abused-to-death maxim that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

Well maybe all it takes for stupidity and lunacy to triumph is for smart and sane people to do nothing.

And maybe that's what made me realize that I have to go to the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert rally in Washington, DC on October 30th.

True, on the surface it's little more than a giant meta-joke -- a conclave of irony, the goal of which is to poke a little appropriate fun at the unseriousness of the supposed life-or-death seriousness of the tea bagger and Glenn Beck rallies. Those would be the events in which thousands of angry, frightened and often misguided "real Americans" have come together to rage against the dying of the white. But we all know that there's something much more important going on here. We all know that, like any really good joke, there's truth at its core -- a method to the madcap.

So, yeah, I'll be there.

It's as good a time and place as any to make a quiet little stand for that increasingly scarce commodity known as common sense.

Anybody wanna meet up for a beer?

34 comments:

Drew said...

There's gonna be a Fark party that evening. Might be a joint thing with Reddit. All are welcome

Chez said...

I'm in, man.

Michael J. West said...

It's right here, in my town, in my freakin' back yard --- no reason for me to miss it. Except that they manage to schedule it for my fucking wedding anniversary, my and my wife's first weekend by ourselves since the baby came. God damn it.

Alanna said...

I'll be there with a few ladies in tow. Then heading back to NYC later that night. Anyone want to meet up after otherwise meet in NYC later that night, let me know

howdidIgethere said...

I felt the same way. How can I get away from, as Stewart said, the **** I have to do.

BUT.... My daughter goes to college in DC. "Family weekend" was scheduled for the weekend before, so it didn't take much to slip the visit by a few days. She was all for it, since we don't do official stuff, but just use it as an excuse for a visit. My sister announced she wants to join us, so daughter will have two old-lady guests.

See you there!

howdidigethere aka graceamazes

p.s. I could do with meeting up for a drink, if you are serious.

Donal said...

I plan to attend both the One Nation rally and the Stewart/Colbert rallies. And I do like drink now and again.

http://www.onenationworkingtogether.org/content/main

TheReaperD said...

Dammit... I'm on the other side of the country and fucking broke!

Raise a beer for me!

Heather said...

I wish I could go to this! However, like Reaper, being on the other side of the country and broke prevents such a trip. I will be looking forward to your piece on it, though, and drink a beer for me!

Janice and Jessica said...

I'm not too far from DC (4 hours) but can't go due to a prior commitment. I was thinking I would still like to put something up in my yard etc that shows my support. All of my old neighbors would shit a brick if I put up a legalize marijuana sign. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

I live too close not to go. :o)

dammitjanet said...

My son and some of his friends from Ball State University are driving out. I'll have him look you up!

Che Grovera said...

Those would be the events in which thousands of angry, frightened and often misguided "real Americans" have come together to rage against the dying of the white.

Brilliant.

motheralex said...

I'm up for a beer, anyone got a location to meet up? I have a funny feeling (no, not THAT one) that DxM folks will be rather fun to hang out with at this shindig. If Y'all want, I'll find a good watering hole. We live in Fairfax, and run races (think Amazing, but no gross food) through D.C. several times a year, so we've found some good locations that like our crowd. Lemme know...

motheralex said...

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/food/restaurantfinder/restaurants/2782/elephant-and-castle - I know these guys, and while the food is okay, the beer is wonderful, and I've run events with them before. Walking distance from the mall, and tons of space. Just fungoing them out there, y'all field 'em.

J. Dack said...

"dying of the white." Oh man I'm gonna have to remember that. Dylan would be proud.

Sr. Wrangler said...

I'm only thirty minutes south. Count me in.

Katy said...

I'm on the other side of the country, and I do have money, but am committed to something that weekend that has no chance of being rescheduled. I definitely would have come out otherwise. But my brother-in-law and his girlfriend, who live in the area, will be representing. Make us proud rational ones!

Hilary said...

YES! Flying out from LA!

Heather R. said...

We will be there....with our girls, one a little older, and one a little younger than Inara. Would love to meet up!

VirginiaO'Possum said...

Hoping to attend, in Colonial re-enactor clothes. Real Patriots drink coffee! Or tea! As they prefer!

Pattie-o said...

Driving from the midwest with our two girls - 8 and 5. Would love a beer with this crowd.

Mart said...

You are all so reasonable I thought you might like a little tea party history. By law only tea from the largest global corporation at the time - the East India Company (tied $$ to Royalty) could import tea to the colonies. The tea was heavily taxed so both the English and colonists smuggled untaxed Dutch tea. To fight against this underground trade Parliment passed various laws that assured East India had a monopoly and that they could undercut the Dutch tea cost.

The colonists were not so much fighting against taxation without representation, as fighting against tax breaks given to a global corporation that was putting the "mom & pop" Dutch tea vendors out of business. I try to explain this to today's tea baggers but they are not so reasonable.

Chez said...

Yeah, that's one of those humorous little points Cesca's been making for more than a year.

jodi54 said...

On the left coast, trying to find a responsible escape to join this crowd.

Sue said...

If I can think of a way to do it, I will, but the prospects look grim for a spur of the moment trip to DC. Tell those of us stuck here in the Midwest all about it when you get back!

Denesteak said...

I'm going! I'm so, so excited for this non-cause cause. A drink with you and others would be awesome!

Busayo said...

Being on another continent and financially challenged, I can't go. Raise a beer for me, man!

Tabi said...

Man, I'm trying to get there. Not sure that it will happen, but I hope so!

It would be neat to meet the DXM crew too!

drater said...

Sounds like fun, but I'm on the wrong coast. Hoist a few extra beers for us absent DXMers!

blackbird said...

Does it matter if I'm Canadian?

KAT said...

Might be driving up from Fort Lauderdale - want to carpool?

Chez said...

Would love to, except that I'm going to be flying. Gotta make this a quick trip, as much as I wish I could stay longer.

cgwalt said...

My wife and I decided we had to be there. Flying in from LA.
Chez, that some of your cleanest tightest writing ever.
Such fine lines.

CNNfan said...

Alanna said, "I'll be there with a few ladies in tow. Then heading back to NYC later that night. Anyone want to meet up after otherwise meet in NYC later that night, let me know"

Last time, I went to DC, I took Amtrak from Penn Station. So, if I do go, then heading back to New York is the route I'd like to take as well.