Why Do Conservatives (and Liberals) Hate America?
Kathleen Parker begins her latest column, “The Pornification of Politics,” thusly:
If our enemies don’t hate us, it’s an oversight.
The confluence of the worst of modern American trends — national narcissism, the sexualization of all things animate and otherwise, and the devaluing of currencies from literature to public discourse — has reached a perfect storm of idiocy in the form of MTV-style political videos.
Can the culture possibly go any lower before the barbarians simply waltz through America’s front door, left lazily ajar by the last one to shake her booty?
The videos are the latest rage in virtual politics: Pouty girls in scant clad bump ‘n’ grind their luv for this presidential candidate or that.
For which they are rewarded millions of views on YouTube, the favorite medium of narcissists gone wild, and recognition by the alleged mainstream media. For just a few humps and bumps, fame belongs to the teeniest bikiniest.
Ezra Klein observes, “There are a lot of people in America who really don’t like America, and for much the same reason that they think Osama bin-Laden doesn’t like America. . . . [I]nsofar as he also finds our freedoms distasteful, so too do some on the right.”
He’s got a point. Now, of course, liberals hate America, too, for entirely different reasons. We allow the rich to keep too much of their money. We’re too militaristic (except in the cases where suffering is happening outside or geostrategic sphere of interest, in which case we’re insufficiently militaristic). We’re the only civilized country that executes our murderers, doesn’t provide universal health care coverage, or mandate eleven months of paid vacation. Our cell phones suck. Our cars are too big. And so forth and so on.
Mostly, people who are passionate about politics have two things in common: 1) They want to use government to make the world fit their vision and 2) They complain that people on the other side of the issue are busybodies who want to use government to impose their will on everybody.
I must admit, though, that it’s amusing to see youngish people like Parker and Dinesh D’Souza lamenting the decline of our moral values. It’s especially funny when they don’t know that MTV hasn’t played music videos on a regular basis since they were in high school.
Now, I’m enough of a curmudgeon to think that “Obama Girl vs. Giuliani Girl” is a rather silly way to pick a candidate. Then again, I’ve studied politics long enough to know that 99% of the people watching these videos 1) aren’t going to make a political decision based on them, since they’ve likely already decided, given that they’re interested enough to watch in the first place and/or 2) aren’t going to vote, anyway, since they’re likely too young. Further, I’m much happier with silly girls shaking their tushies on camera than with such classics from the good old days as “Flower Girl,” which insinuated that Barry Goldwater was going to get the nation blown up in a nuclear war.
Americans have always lamented the moral decline of the world around them. Hollywood was too wild in the 1920s, so the public demanded movie ratings. Comic books were too violent and sexually suggestive in the 1950s, seducing the innocent and all that, leading to the Comic Code. Then there was this thing called Rock and Roll — itself a suggestive racial euphemism — culminating in Elvis wiggling his hips. (Thankfully, the Ed Sullivan show had the good decency to film his gyrations from the waist up, sparing the public the shock.) Then there was the debauchery of Woodstock. And gangsta rap.
Look, there’s not much doubt that our popular culture is more profane and sexually explicit than it was twenty, let alone fifty, years ago. Whether that’s a good thing is largely a matter of taste. The larger context in which that’s happened, though, is almost certainly a good one. We’re more free, more affluent, more educated than ever before.