Posted by Curt on 10 October, 2017 at 8:00 am. 3 comments already!



Not long ago, late-night comedian and would-be philosopher Steven Colbert signaled the nation his virtuous outrage over the Trump presidency. Colbert offered that Trump had “a feeble f***ing anemic firefly of a soul.” His puerile efforts at alliteration were not helped by the redundant “anemic.”

Obscenity in service to an announced virtuous progressive cause is apparently now Colbert’s brand — and the more vulgar, the more virtuous.

Of Trump, Colbert had earlier announced crudely on national television: “You talk like a sign-language gorilla that got hit in the head. In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c*** holster.” Do Americans stay up late to hear that?

Yet Colbert’s incoherent crudity is mild compared with the epidemic of assassination chic in which politicians, celebrities, actors, and academics vie to kill Trump by symbolically stabbing, decapitating, hanging, shooting, and maiming his likeness. (The various ways of killing or torturing Trump have exhausted the imagination of the virtuous.) It is as if the more macabre one can be in imagining how to eviscerate Trump, the more virtuous one becomes.

Is vicarious violence and crudity the means by which the modern soft suburbanite — like a Colbert, Michael Moore, or Bill Maher — messages his inner bravery and progressive authenticity?

After the recent shootings in Las Vegas, Frank Sinatra’s daughter and former singer Nancy Sinatra tweeted, “The murderous members of the NRA should face a firing squad.”

She later backtracked by insisting that her attributive adjective “murderous” was really discriminatory, not collective, as if she meant that only the NRA members who are actually murderous should be shot, given that not all NRA members are necessarily murderous. But aside from misleading about her intent, which particular NRA members does she think have committed murder, and how would the selective champion of capital punishment, Nancy Sinatra, know them?

Wanting to kill someone because of his politics is now sort of passé. So is the chilling habit of calibrating empathy for the dead on the basis of their perceived ideology. The now-fired vice president and senior legal counsel at CBS Hayley Geftman-Gold posted her feelings after the Las Vegas massacre: “I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans often are Republican gun toters.”

When Bernie Sanders supporter James Hodgkinson tried to assassinate Republican legislators during a baseball practice game, and almost killed Republican majority whip Steven Scalise, MSNBC host Joy Reid seemed to all but suggest that Scalise had deserved to be killed, given his conservative politics. She tweeted: “Rep. #Scalise was shot by a white man with a violent background, and saved by a black lesbian police officer, and yet . . . ” And then she followed that outburst with a list of Scalise’s conservative agenda items, such as his vote for a GOP House bill on health care, that apparently were meant to minimize the horror of his near-death. Reid’s commentary was not unusual; the Washington Post reported recently on liberal anger that a recovering Scalise was honored by being asked to throw out the first pitch at a Washington baseball game. His opposition to Obamacare and support for the Second Amendment should evidently have disqualified him from receiving sympathy for his near-fatal shooting.

The social-media practice of predicating empathy for the dead or wounded on the basis of their perceived politics first received wide national attention with Michael Moore. Moore posted unhinged commentary on his website the day after nearly 3,000 were murdered on September 11, 2001. Moore seemed outraged at the carnage largely because he deemed the dead to be mostly blue-state Al Gore voters — and thus the incorrect people to have perished:

Many families have been devastated tonight. This is just not right. They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him. Boston, New York, D.C., and the planes’ destination of California — these were the places that voted AGAINST Bush.

Moore’s infantile use of emphatic capitalization highlighted his focus on voting against Bush.

Note the logic: Once again, whether or not the loss of so many innocent lives is a tragedy hinges on the perceived politics of the murdered. This is a chilling ideology of the fundamentalist that surfaces in times of crisis, but perhaps it’s an implicit way of thinking in most other times as well.

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