Wednesday, July 11, 2007

And the Crowd Goes Wild...

Camille Paglia answers her letters at Salon today. Most of them are pretty interesting and some are fairly funny. I laughed out loud at this one: ''Be glad our servicemen are willing to fight for your right to opine whatever you like. People like you do not want the U.S. to win. You probably love Karl Marx. You are a left-winger. -Walter Dixon Fairhope, Alabama'' Imagine old Walt in a padded room saying these things to the light bulb in the ceiling. I don't know if you can really talk about Paglia driving people like this nuts because it's such a short drive anyway.

Of course, Hurricane Camille drives lefties nuts as well. Whenever Salon publishes her posts, the letters section thrashes wildly with the most vitriolic rage. For example: ''You are NOT a Democrat and you NEVER have been. You are a right-wing, Limbaugh-loving, FOX-News-believing, liberals-and-gays-and-feminists-hating DITTOHEAD!'' Imagine Linus saying this to the adult who took away his blanket!

As far as I can tell, Paglia is essentially a left libertarian. What's strange about the truculence that she inspires from liberals is that she's to the left more often than she is to the right. And you have to wonder about lefties who see no good in an intelligent woman who has opposed the war since the beginning and who loathes Dick Cheney. There's a disconnect between her writings and the bile they inspire.

Two things that I think are happening here:
1. Salon actually gets this whenever they publish writings by women. Little boys who are angry at women (starting with Mommy no doubt) lose their shit when they read women's opinions on anything. Hurt, rage, unhappiness, etc.

2. Lefties need to lighten up. Salon used to publish both left and right-wingers, and plenty of people who are off the map entirely. It was like... well, being at a salon made up of intelligent people (brilliant metaphor, eh?). I actually enjoy listening to intelligent people, regardless of their politics. Anyway, Salon decided at some point that the situation is so dire (never a good place to start from- it inhibits thought) they should focus on news for the left. Out went David Horowitz and in came Glenn Greenwald.

In many ways, this is neither here nor there. But, at this point, Paglia is the only Salon writer I can think of who isn't a die hard democrat. I suspect that ''problems'' seem worse to people when there are only a few of them to deal with. That is, they can deal with reading ten people that they disagree with in their favorite journal, but they bridle when it's down to one writer they disagree with. Notice how the exact point a few years back when Republicans controlled the government and the discourse was when they became wounded paranoids raving like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

And yet, political reasoning is basically persuasion working from easily agreed upon first principles. You work from these principles to try to make as strong a case as possible for the conclusions that you have come to and try to convince others of the rightness of these conclusions. Which means that, at some point, you have to listen to other people's arguments and consider them as well. As opposed to spouting knee-jerk vitriol at them.

I'd like to encounter a bit more charm and high mindedness from the left. Barack Obama is something of a revelation at this point because he wants to persuade instead of throwing raw meat to his base. He should be President. And, besides, there are too many echo chambers as is; it's hard to tell when their inhabitants are just talking to themselves where they differ from Crazy Ol' Walt.

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