Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Defining The Hatriots

I'm guessing it's a pretty common phenomenon to reach middle age and start to think about The Good Ole Days. Even if they weren't really all that good when you first lived 'em, there comes a day when a person wakes up, looks around, and thinks: "Holy fuck, how in the world did we get HERE?!?" Or, y'know, something like that. The thing about this happening during middle age, of course, is that (once again, I'm just now noticing) it's precisely at this point in your life when you have enough years "ago" to make comparisons between then and now, and the wisdom to make some sense of the comparisons. So, even though the '70s were really pretty sucky, I can look around at all my students with little cell phones metastasizing out of their crania and think "Wow, remember when 'talking on the phone' was the only thing you could do? You couldn't drive and talk, couldn't walk and talk; you could only…talk. That was really a lot better than now, man I miss the '70s!" That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. I go through this with TV a lot too: 3 channels (well, 4, but who the fuck watched PBS except kids on Sesame Street?), snow in between, had to get the fuck UP to change the channel, and they all went off the air at 2:00am to the sounds of the Banner. MUCH better than 4,000 channels of nothing to watch on digital television!

Speaking of TV: the news is something that I really miss. Oh, I know, there are lots of things right now pretending to be the news, but it really isn't. I mean The News, delivered authoritatively by Walter Cronkite or Huntley/Brinkley. Severe-looking men in comb-overs and eyeglasses mail-ordered from Bud's House of Soviet Eyewear. They delivered the news each night, and you listened and you believed them. Nowadays, the "news" is a 24-hour marathon, delivered by overcaffeinated dudes with spiky hair and slutty women who (apparently) need a reminder that their blouse has at least two more buttons they should be using. It's talking heads, opinion-based blathering that merely poses as news. And it seems like most of us either don't care or are too dumb to notice the difference.

The other thing about current "news" is that it's drifting farther and farther into the territory of divisiveness. Because, I guess, arguing sells. And so we're treated to Fox and MSNBC, Anne Coulter and Chris Matthews, neither one of 'em any kind of newsperson, but they sure do stir up a lotta shit. And we likes us some shit stew here in these United States…which, lately, are anything but. We like to sling shit at each other, and we like to watch other people sling shit, and sometimes it seems like we're just generally pretty crabby and insular and ego-driven. We're divided by great philosophical issues, and any attempt at reasonable mediation is seen not as a strength, or a desirable attitude, but rather as cowardice and indecision. And no one seems to believe this more strongly than The Hatriots.

Who are The Hatriots, you ask? They're a particular group of people who really seem to hate our country, but they shield themselves with a faux super-patriotism. Instead of admitting that they can't seem to work with the system we have, they try to trump the system with a patriotism that isn't real…only, they're too insular a group to recognize this. In this way, they are borderline schizophrenics: they have trouble accepting reality, which is manifested in their use of incoherent word salads and persecutory language. There's no "real" definition of a Hatriot, but I've cobbled together a list of their most common characteristics:

1) The Hatriots have a misplaced sense of longing for "Ago." That's what made me think of this in the first place, and why I started the post with a paean for The Good Ole Days. Hatriots, unable (or unwilling) to accept the modern country in which they live, yearn for a time when the country was "better," or "simpler," which really means they long for the past. Even when the past wasn't necessarily better, or even simple. It's an easy argument to make, though, when you don't wish to deal with the present.

2) Considering arguments, Hatriots use weasel-words and slippery-slope logic to obtain the results they want. Specifically, they paint with broad strokes to follow these paths. A poll that finds 51% of people are against something becomes "most Americans" becomes "Americans." "Recent polls show that Americans do not want this health care bill!" That's bunk. So is the idea of claiming "home turf" on ideas and concepts that are really pretty universal. Andrew Breitbart says of his father: "He expressed his conservatism by working 16-hour days at the restaurant and never complaining." That's not conservative, dude…that's just a good work ethic, and you don't get to claim it with that sort of slippery-slope reasoning.

3) They wrap themselves in the flag to promote their ideas as "American." This is one of the most prominent characteristics of The Hatriots, and it follows the idea of unassailable logic. If you claim something is American, and promote that idea with fierce flag-waving…well, who can argue with it? The whole POINT of Hatriotism is to pull a black-is-white switcheroo to mask the true nature of the beast. This is similar to trying to argue what does or does not constitute "Christianity." Every third person has a slightly different definition, and of course everyone else's definition is wrong.

4) Using that idea of faith-based logic as a springboard, The Hatriots don't recognize that there IS no such thing. "Faith" and "logic" are mutually exclusive, such that there reaches an eventual end point beyond which The Hatriots cannot be refuted. Bob MacGuffie, a Connecticut organizer for tea party group Right Principles, said it best when he claimed "They can't debate our message and that's their problem."

5) Most Hatriots can't understand the difference between faith and logic because, frankly, they ain't that smart. And that's the thing with Hatriotism: a claim of being patriotic is intended to trump intelligence. In the world of The Hatriot, being "smart" is seen as a handicap; they revel in anti-elitism.

6) Because of this widespread lack of real intelligence, many Hatriotic desires are mutually exclusive or oxymoronic. A Hatriot who decried the Federal Government's salvation of General Motors might conveniently forget that his father was a GM lifer and relies on his pension to live. Or, a Hatriot might slam government intervention in business, but gladly take his farm subsidy payment.

7) Hatriots, as a general rule, are more certain of what they are AGAINST than what they are FOR. I think this is because they recognize subconsciously that the things they ARE for, aren't really possible. So, they take the easy, lazy way out, and kvetch about this or that, complain complain complain, yadda yadda yadda…using tons of words and week-kneed "logic" to overwhelm you into not noticing that they haven't said a single thing that they WANT. Only the vaguest terms will do: "Well, I want government out of my back pocket." Yes, but that again is something you are AGAINST: government. What do you want INSTEAD? Do you WANT to abolish Social Security? What happens when YOU want to retire? How's YOUR nest egg? No, it's much easier to rail against "problems" than to try to "solve" them.

8) All this talk of arguing - with or without logic - reminds me that Hatriots seem to prefer arguing and insulting to discussion. In any tactical circumstance, that's a sure sign of a weak position; hence Roosevelt's slogan "Speak softly and carry a big stick." People who speak loudly (and insultingly) often don't HAVE a stick, figuratively speaking. Thus, it SHOULD be appallingly easy to beat the shit out of Hatriots with the truth…but, then again, they generally don't acknowledge the truth.

9) Speaking of truths: Hatriots tend to disavow them. While "truth" can mean different things at different times, something that shows up as "true" that goes against what a Hatriot wants/needs to believe is wholly disregarded. It's a "trick," or "lamestream media lies." Even better: Hatriots game-saver is to change the whole direction of the discussion, get you trying to refute other points, and soon you've lost the original nugget of discussion altogether.

10) In combating undesirable truths, Hatriots will denigrate legitimate things with catchy (but empty) pejoratives: "lamestream media," "Communist News Network," "Retardicans," "libtards." Former Gov. Palin is a master at this, which only serves to demonstrate the mutually exclusive desires of Hatriots: she decries unflattering news as coming from the lamestream media, but she desperately needs them in order to further her career. If I was in charge of a mainstream media conglomerate, my first editorial memo would read "Sarah Palin does not exist." This tactic of puerile insult seeks to make something out of nothing, like the evangelicals who tried so hard to make Kiss an acronym for "Knights In Satan's Service." Didn't work then…won't work now.

So, there ya go. NOT patriots. NOT in support of their country. Looking instead to the past, in search of a country that probably never existed in the first place. They are country HATERS. Hence: Hatriots.


Blogger Violence Worker said...

Scott, I'd like to respectfully disagree with you on some of your points.

First of all, your term "hatriots". Not exactly a friendly term and as divisive as any other pejorative.

First no one wants to go back to some other time. It isn't possible and it isn't all good like you point out. For example, we don't want to go back to the Jim Crow days.

There are some old-fashioned values that were good and worth keeping. Some , not so much.

We aren't anti-intellectual, but we are against elitism. Elitists are generally defined as those who tell us to do as they say and not what they do. Al Gore is a great example. They also come in both sides of the spectrum.

The Healthcare bill is bad. In fact, every poll I saw showed that the majority of Americans were against it. It is hurting the Democrats. They expect huge losses this election. Their own internals show them losing big time at this point.

I smiled at your example of 51% polling. When Obama won with 51%, it was a landslide. :)

While there is much in here I could take exception with, I just don't have the time to go through it point by point.

I do want to point out that we have solutions. It's not just anti-big government. There are solutions. And honestly, with Social Security on the verge of bankruptcy, how good is your nest egg? :)


9:47 PM  
Blogger Animal said...

Hey VW,

Didn't intend to include you in this rant. The posts I've read on your blog tell me that we don't always agree, but you strike me as anything BUT unintelligent or illogical.

Re: the Healthcare law…I agree that there is a consistent majority against the entire thing. But, there are also consistent majorities in FAVOR of many portions of it. I myself fall into that camp, in that I think the entirety could use some fixes, but there are some very strong points.

As far as my nest egg goes, I'm not planning on SS being there at ALL, and so I'm making my own nest egg. By the time I need it, it'll be phenomenal.

Thanks for reading, and commenting!

7:01 AM  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I couldn't disagree with you more with your characterization of "Hatriots." But I'll defend to the death your right to say it and write it as long as you wish.


7:31 AM  
Blogger Animal said...

Thanks BZ…and, as I wrote back to VW, I wouldn't include you as part of this group. The posts I read on your blog are well-researched and always backed up by referential links to the info.

3:00 PM  

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