Shut Up and Think

Steve Reynolds, friend of the Pit, sent me today’s NY Times op-ed by Bob Herbert, and it just set me off on some things I’ve been meaning to say lately. So I said them. Have a look at the op-ed first, though.

Sorry folks, but this little editorial just caught me wrong.

The ultimate irony is the nature of who’s doing the yelling and why. The semi-literate yahoos calling for Natalie Maines’ head are also the people who stand, every 4th of July, and sing Lee Greenwood’s famous patriotic anthem at the top of their goddamned lungs, because, you know, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.” Free to do anything except disagree with popular opinion, that is, because, see, that’s what we really mean when we talk about freedom in the US – we’re talking about your freedom to think what gummint and big corporations want you to think.

Meanwhile, these same folks convince themselves, when they step into the voting booth, that a vote for a rich, privileged son of the nation’s power elite is a vote for somebody that by god represents the way they think. Oddly, many of these regular folks know people who were born into the right families, and they know from ugly experience that the silver-spoon crowd feels it’s too good to associate with the NASCAR crowd. And the NASCAR crowd hates these spoiled rich mothers, especially when they have to deal with them more or less directly (which happens damned near daily, because they all work their asses off for not a lot of money in companies owned by people like Vice President Dick Haliburton, err, Cheney, and King Dubya).

I’m sick of the stupidity. Dammit, I grew up working class in the South, and I’m describing an indisputable reality. (Note that while I’m mad, I’m not surprised. Stupidity isn’t a recent invention, exactly.) Still, I have to say that the first couple years of the reign of George II have accomplished two things very clearly:

1: They have empowered an extended public display of unthinking dimwittedness the like of which I don’t think I’ve seen in my lifetime (although those who lived through McCarthyism may have seen as bad, or worse).

2: They have exhausted my patience with said dimwits. I’m not always right, and there are plenty of smart people who disagree with me on various points, and hell, one of the things I love most about life is the possibility that each day I might encounter somebody who can show me where I’m wrong about something, and hence, provide me with an avenue toward improving myself. But I’m sick and tired and over people who disagree with me for stupid reasons (and the same goes for people who agree with me for stupid reasons, too).

The world stands at a dangerous crossroads, and there’s a very real possibility that the millennia-old conflict between progress and fundamentalism could erupt into full-scale war. At times like this, ignorance and hypocrisy are the biggest threats we face.

So let’s catch a deep breath and remember what George Clinton said: “Think – it ain’t illegal yet.”

Oh, one more thing: god bless the Dixie Chicks and our troops.

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