Cheerleading the uncontroversial


I’ve been reflecting on the effusive tributes to the late (and by me, unlamented) Elie Wiesel. Of course it’s obvious enough why people like Madeleine Albright and Bibi Netanyahu and Abe Foxman and Hillary Clinton would have liked him, so we can set all that to one side, having assessed its value and consequence out to the fourth decimal place without even breaking a sweat.

What surprises me just a bit is the spontaneous wreath-laying by jes’-folks. Most of it, to be sure, is on Facebook, where the currency of feeling is seriously devalued, so maybe I’m breaking a butterfly upon the wheel here.

Of course — you know what’s coming — I Have A Theory.

My theory is that we enjoy fervor. We like being enthusiastic about things, and jumping on some jolly bandwagon, and rooting for the home team. And of course we enjoy the bracing, piney air of the moral high ground. But we mostly don’t like disagreement, and argument, and making other people mad: because we are nice people ourselves. (Well, not me, of course. But I mean normal people.)

So the solution is to get all fervent and dewy-eyed and shaky-voiced about matters on which no one disagrees: the Nazis were bad, child molesters are bad, and these characteristically American shoot-em-up amuckniks are really, really bad. Click ‘like’ if you agree.

Best of both worlds, right? We can wave the banners and chant the slogans and march through the streets, with a police permit in due form, and nobody will get in our face.

9 thoughts on “Cheerleading the uncontroversial

  1. Larger points taken, though I have been pleasantly surprised — and more than a bit relieved — at how few tributes to the Wiesel I’ve seen on my FB feed, beyond reflexive “sharing” of obits; and that sharing has not included paragraph upon paragraph of maudlin remembrances by the sharers; just simple clicks of the share button on the NYT or whatever. Like commemorating the Wiesel is something your “supposed” to do. But few hearts seem to be into it.

    And I have more than a few friends and/or “friends” whom one would expect to deliver a maudlin remembrance. Not much happening on that front. To my eye, the Wiesel has mostly passed with a whimper.

    • My FB has be surprisingly tolerable on this and may other recent happenings. There is a libertarian set who post insensately about safe spaces and “PC gone mad”–credit where credit is due, they’ve gracefully put up with my bullshit where liberal more souls have not. And they came closest to hitting the mark on Brexit–lapping any leftists–even if the underlying agenda–from what I can suss out–is that leaving the EU will somehow makes the country /more/ free-market. A kind of Switzerland off-shore paradise; of course without the benefits, such as a basic income guarantee, of being Swiss.

      Some liberals have faithfully gone into Hillary apologetics, but so far fewer than I’d have expected. If anything certain leftists, following Chomsky’s unfortunate but predictable lead, tend to freak out more than regular liberals.

  2. I suspect that part of the problem (for me) is that many of my old pals are liberal WASPs, who feel obliged to demonstrate their bona fides in this cost-free fashion.

    • Cost-free bona fides — the liberal WASP way!

      I say this as a lifelong lefty Episcopalian. Though when and how did the Episcopal Church go from The Republican Party at Prayer to Rainbow Flags and Gay Marriage? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that….)

  3. I was raised long ago in Southern Connecticut. Back then at least, it was a quite tolerant place. Minorities at least had a place in the scheme of things, and most folks got along. There was some racism and corruption, but we all more or less got along. The racism, intolerance, corruption ran deep, but was always meticulously swept under the rug. There were tons of over-educated people, but only about three fancy universities. Odd. Upper NYC was probably similar in some ways, but maybe not-so-much now.

    A bit over a decade ago I moved to Western Massachusetts, where corruption and intolerance was more in-your-face.

    They said Wiesel was humanitarian and political activist, but there was little to no real evidence of this. And anything he may have supposedly stood-for was actually just sat-for from an armchair, excepting for some gigs at lavish photo-ops.

    So it goes that nowadays people root for human symbols instead of for folks who actually took chances in order to actually try to do something good.

    Maybe it doesn’t matter anyway since, as I have pointed out so often, the people are trapped in faulty social systems that deprive them of having any power at all. And half the energies of the eleets are spent keeping it that way. But I think the human symbols will be soon forgotten, and the ones who did actual good will be remembered much longer.

    Of course, the ones who did actual bad will be remembered too. The Nazis kept meticulous records of the rants of Hitler, and I read as many as I could get my hands on. He was not exceptionally bright, but had a thought-style that could, for some purposes be very efficient. It is even possible to employ his thought-style sans the cold, heartless, Nietzscheanism that it tends toward in the absence certain special precautions and discipline. You could gain some new insights, even. I have known at least two people who thought like that, and they were frightening. Our real rulers think like that, probably because it’s a thought-style that’s quite effective for building strategies leading to the accumulation of dominance and power.


    if listening to liberal wasps cheer for a bunch of nothing is your thing, “A Capital Fourth” in such company is your cup of tea. do you like Wounded Warriors wheeled out on stage to the cloying strains of “God bless America”? “America loves its veterans!” uh huh. “we are besties ever in human history!” “nobody has fought for & won more freedom for the world than us!” some of that same mindless circus seal clapping came up w/E.W., but many people were all like, “Who?” but point remains: cheering empty vacuities is a national pastime. the subject of drones came up, all in the context of “how will Big G keep us safe from drones?!?!?” these people don’t know a goddam thing about anything, but they think they are the pinnacle of human evolution cuz they got a decent bribe, i mean job, in the national Amazon sweatshop & know above all how to parrot acceptable opinions & willingly confuse being respectably dull & uninteresting for Courage & Virtue.

  5. couldn’t resist the melville
    As the boats now more closely surrounded him, the whole upper part of his form, with much of it that is ordinarily submerged, was plainly revealed. His eyes, or rather the places where his eyes had been, were beheld. As strange misgrown masses gather in the knot-holes of the noblest oaks when prostrate, so from the points which the whale’s eyes had once occupied, now protruded blind bulbs, horribly pitiable to see. But pity there was none. For all his old age, and his one arm, and his blind eyes, he must die the death and be murdered, in order to light the gay bridals and other merry-makings of men, and also to illuminate the solemn churches that preach unconditional inoffensiveness by all to all.

  6. The term being bandied about nowadays for these ostentatious displays of political corrongness is “virtue signalling,” defined by Urban Dictionary as “Advocating a political or philosophical position, and/or taking up a public cause, from a position of vanity, for the primary purpose of demonstrating your conformity with fashionable pop culture values.” Wiesel-worship in a nutshell.

    Much of modern propaganda is based on the desire to be seen as one of the good guys. All you need to do nowadays is shout “racist!” to get SJW-types to attach themselves like leeches to all manner of establishment fuckery, as the the anti-Brexit campaign clearly demonstrates.

  7. Eh, I dunno. I think all the foofarah is more in the vain (ha! get it? amirite?) of celebrity mourning. It’s like when Princess Di and Mother Teresa died practically on the same day and suddenly everyone was wearing black armbands and humming ‘Candle in the Wind.’ Nauseating, but I suppose it beats playing checkers.

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