Wednesday, April 02, 2008

American History X

John F. Kennedy once posited American liberalism as an ideology in which adherents struggle to look ahead and not behind. He painted the liberal as someone who cares about the welfare of people; who welcomes equality and accepts new ideas without rigid reaction.

“Someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad,” he said after accepting a presidential nomination from New York’s Liberal Party in 1960. “If that is what they mean by a ‘Liberal,’ then I'm proud to say I’m a Liberal.”

Kennedy’s ascension to the presidency gave wind to the sails of American Liberalism, which carried it through a decade of political and cultural change that literally revolutionized life in United States. This change was strongly rebuked in the decades that followed, largely by proponents of Nixonian conservatism, a quasi-fascist ideology promulgating a strengthened federal government led by an elite group of free market cheerleaders.

By the dawning of the new century, American Liberals found themselves a dying breed; largely shunned by the Democrats and treated like a pack of rabid lepers by the Nixonians, a scurrilous group cultivated under the laissez-fair leadership of the Regan Administration into today’s neoconservatives. For nearly a decade now, this ideology has tried to exact the final solution that was narrowly thwarted by the Watergate scandal: the full excoriation of American Liberalism from the halls of government.

Foisted into government by many of the Nixon minions, these buggers consolidated their power from the bottom up. After dominating the AM airwaves throughout the 1990s, they managed to take unprecedented control of all three branches of government with the rise of the Bush Administration. And when liberals watched the twin towers crumble in 2001, they finally took a gander at the writing on the wall. Facing merciless extermination at the hands of an authoritarian political movement, they decided something would need to change dramatically.

This lit the fire underneath today’s Neoliberalism, a riddle-like movement wrapped in a conundrum, much like its new-right doppelganger. Born in liberal bastions such as Vermont and Northern California, the take-no-shit new left preaches many of the same principles as its predecessor, just in a far more militant way. In other words, believe what we’re shoveling or you’re one of them. And if you’re one of them, you’re just another cog in the problem machine.

Such is the case at Skidmore College, as an apparent proponent of this new left thought ludicrously etched a swastika on a jumbo-sized poster advertising former Attorney General and noted Neocon John Ashcroft’s speech on campus this evening. Clearly, the individual drawing this hate symbol figured it might give viewers pause to think about Ashcroft and how his short term in office could be equated to the brutal Nazi regime that laid waste to most of Europe with their hatred.

The gesture was just what Tom Qualtere –co-president of Skidmore’s Young Republicans –needed to prove the hackneyed theory that liberals won’t be happy until they’ve changed the country into a Soviet-era gulag.

“It’s so frustrating,” he told the Times Union Monday. “You want to act like you’re running Stalinist Russia, go ahead. But don’t call yourselves liberals while you're doing it.”

What is unfortunate is that neither the swastika-artist nor Qualtere seem to have even an inkling of the historical markers they reference or the completely asinine implications of their respective statements. Comparing Ashcroft or his movement to Nazi Germany is quite ludicrous, in that the neoconservatives generally shriek every time even a cursory mention of socialism is brought up. Likewise, anyone associating the militant new left with the former Soviet Union obviously hasn’t read much about Russia under Stalin’s rule or bothered to compare it to some of the areas of the U.S. where this ideology was hatched.

The whole affair is disturbing in that it shows the unbelievable political and historical ignorance being bred in today’s colleges. In as much, the future for dialog and progress seems remarkably grim. But the most frightening thought born from this rather minuscule event is the thought proffered by Edmund Burke, an 18th century British philosopher and one-time champion of the very American Independence neoconservatives and liberals both enjoy today: Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.

24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Horatio,

I have no idea what the point of this entry is. Are you trying to get off the antisemitism topic quickly and move on? If so, I would refrain from using expressions like "final solution" and "merciless extermination" to make your point. That is just plain thoughtless on the heels of the recently posted responses.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old saying: A young man who's not a liberal has no heart; an old man who's not a conservative has no brain.

New saying: A young man like Tom Qualtere or an old man like John Ashcroft has neither heart nor brain.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, the college-kid Nazi graffito was stupid.

But even more stupid was the local College Reublican wingnut using that stupid swastika as an opportunity to display his ignorance, asserting inanely that one swastika tag means that liberals "want to act" like they're "running Stalinist Russia (sic)."

In fact, way back when, the swastika guys hated the Stalinist "Russia" guys, and fought an extraordinarily bloody and brutal war.

And Stalinist "Russia" was on our side in that war, and essential to the defeat of the Nazis.

For the sake of Skidmore's reputation, I hope that Qualtere is not a history or political science major.

FWIW, Ashcroft's support of illegal, aggressive war, torture, domestic spying, absurd prosecutions of "terrorists" like the Miami misfits, and the Guantanamo gulag disgracefully has antecedents in both Nazi Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union.

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "neoliberalism" you describe is a direct reaction to the bile Limbaugh, Coulter, Savage and others spew about eliminating liberals, liberal thought and any non-GOP approved thinking. I don't think it's a good reaction, but it's definitely a natural one.

Anyway, the best way to counter Ashcroft is not a swastika -- I hope someone is caught and punished for using it -- but by bringing a liberal icon to the school, a Chomsky or Kuchnich or even Al Gore. I wonder what Jasper Nolan would say about that!

8:17 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

3:33,

The point is to say there's a fair degree of ignorance being bred on both sides of the isle; an intolerance that is highly detrimental to the free exchange of ideas, the fundamentals of democracy and the very pillars on which this nation was built. Perhaps this is a grim outlook, but it's one that seems all the more omnipresent when I see the type of politics being fomented among the younger generations.

These terms I've chosen were picked quite deliberately. The fact that any self-respecting liberal would etch a swastika in any public place -and assuming this was the work of a leftest -shows just how far off track the new left has wandered in their attempt to counter the AM dial vitriol described by 8:17.

Speaking of which, good post 8:17. Frankly, I think the best way to confront an Ashcroft visit would have been to engage the fellow in a dialog. Outside of that, there's always the standard protest. But as the age-old saying goes: two wrongs don't make a right.

7:27,

I'm no Ashcroft fan whatsoever. In fact, I think he was one of the worst AGs to ever skulk into office. However, the record should reflect that it was Ashcroft in a debilitated state who refused to reconsider the acting attorney general's decision not to reauthorize the domestic spying initiative, despite the not-so-subtle urgings of a Mr. Alberto Gonzalez during a late-night hospital visit. Only the history books will tell whether Ashcroft's one good deed was intentional or a factor of his delusional state.

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Horatio:

When you say that the swastika mark on the poster was done by a "self-respecting liberal" and assume that it is a sign of the new left's movement overall (wandering off track), you sound like everything is a concerted effort. There are idiots everywhere doing senseless things trying to be provocateurs. Good signs of these people are that they don't know history and they can't put a coherent argument together. What is really scary is that politics in general has fallen into platitudes, so we don't even know when someone is making a legitimate claim versus a person being a moron (like the Skidmore student mentioning Stalin). The War on Terror has fallen into that hazy category of definition, where candidates like John McCain can use the fear ticket to argue for another 100 years in Iraq and most Americans still believe that Iraq had something to do with 9/11. What is needed these days is clarity on issues and specifics.

4:37 AM  
Anonymous Uncle Smoove said...

The art of dialog appears to be dead. We see it on this blog where too many contributors just bash people with alternate views. What possible value is there to gratuitously take a shot at Jasper Nolan in the response to this article. What value has there been to ceaseless bashing of Tom McTygue in other threads.

I'm very concerned with the collegiate values in America. Skidmore votes 95% democrat in local elections. You can't tell me any thought or dialog goes into a vote like that. Until young people are taught to sift through the bs and find whats valuable in conservative AND liberal thought, the progress of our democracy will forever be retarded.

Its ironic that so many of the people who respond to this blog are intolerant of other views, while the people we elect to office have no such problem. John Sweeney and Hillary Clinton worked closely together to get things done for this region, despite their different political philosophies.

5:36 AM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

Horatio said,
"The fact that any self-respecting liberal would etch a swastika in any public place"

Okay this kid has their history all wrong. But maybe she/he is a little smarter than everyone is giving them credit for.
After all, their actions have been splashed all over the local rags and airwaves.
They have highlighted Ashcroft's visit and have people talking. Bravo.

Let's also remember these kids are still young and hopefully they have a big learning curve in front of them.

5:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone ever consider maybe Qualtare or his Republican group actually vandalized the poster with that disgusting symbol?

Think about it, the event was getting no media attention up until that point...

I'm simply pointing out a seperate possibility that has yet to be mentioned, I'm not calling Qualtare a "wingnut" or saying he "has no heart," like the above posts which are both pathetically small minded and pointless.

6:51 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

6:15,

Actually, that very thought did cross my mind last night after a few late-evening beers. I was even going to mention as such, but then thought it was just the beer doing the thinking.

There had been some attention from the media prior; I read about the event on Sunday. And any presidential cabinet member coming to the city --much less a controversial one --was bound to draw attention in and of itself. Probably not as much as, but front page attention nonetheless.

From my limited knowledge of Qualtere and his group, they've made quite a point of playing the brow-beaten conservative role on campus. They seem like the type that would jump at the chance to reinforce the ludicrous concept that colleges today are brainwashing students into liberal ideologies. But drawing a hate symbol on your own poster? That even seems like a bit of a reach.

7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HO -- Good post, and I agree completely that discussion without knowledge is pointless and unproductive, but I think it's important to keep in mind that, in all likelihood, the swastika was drawn by some beer-fueled, faux-liberal jock who associates Ashcroft with Bush.

I suspect that in the haze of a drunken stupor, the following deductive reason took place: Ashcroft=Bush, Bush=evil, nazis=evil, therefore, Ashcroft=nazi.

Of course, any educated person would know that comparing Ashcroft to a Nazi is not accurate, nor fair, but I can almost assure you that such thoughts did not enter he head of this person.

In any event, did you make it to the speech? I thought he was very engaging and well-spoken, as I would expect any career politician to be.

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it is a reach, and maybe it isn't. I just felt the idea should be presented that quite possibly this is an act of self promotion, and not aggression.

OR MAYBE if this could be a more typical local post, where even if it has nothing to do with the topic, the true conspiracy is that Tommy McTygue is behind it all!!! Or one of those Krazy Keehniacs! Maybe Chief Moore did it in an attempt to show that we need a public safety sub-building on the Skidmore college!!! Even though that's all absurd, how come so many lunatics revert back to the same old ideas while annonymously blogging?

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly Qualtere and his group are innocent of the mentioned intolerance.

I have it on good authority that Tom McTygue drove Johnny Wine up to campus in the middle of the night and ordered Mr. Wine to spray paint the poster. As we all know by now, Mr. McTygue's DPW was filled with NAZI Party members.

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we declare a moratorium on mentioning Tommy McTygue, Val-Pak Keehn (and her Keehniacs) or Chief Moore on this blog for a good month? The tongue-in-cheek jokes about them being behind everything are getting old too.

Please!

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's this about McTygue and this Wine trashing the poster? Many old time Saratogians said that McTygue was known for such tactics. He was also known for the dead fish on many non-supporters properties for many years.

4:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dem roc said: wow, what a study on human nature. lets see, younger college age kids tend to be more liberal, while older people tend to be more conservative... are we just figuring that out? plus i think we all know that there are idiots all around us, liberal and conservative.
anyone claiming ashcroft is a nazi needs to learn more about them, they're not the guys from the blues brothers movie. while i undersatnd the point it is offensive to human sensibilities. and the response was just as dumb and inflammatory.

6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear 2:40

Nah, we'll pass on your suggestion.

After all, as long as this town continues to attract its fair share if carpet bagging bored housewives and their semi-senile husbands -- all with a propensity to worship dreamy cult leaders named Vanguard and glassy-eyed mayoral candidates that can't speak in complete sentences -- they remain fair game.

After all, bluffs must be called, my friend!

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Monterey Pop said...

Well, DemRoc the problem we have is jerks making comments about all things just because someone is republican. Obviously you are democrat as am I, but the dem committee representatives that are making these acusations are the same group that have destroyed their dem committee. Those being the old school cliff ammon/hank kuczynski/boyd democrats. Until they are disposed of we are stuck we failure.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:40 "Can we declare a moratorium on mentioning Tommy McTygue, Val-Pak Keehn (and her Keehniacs) or Chief Moore on this blog for a good month?"

Yeah, I agree, we should let the Commissioner and the mayor (small m) rest, but Chief Moore... Com-mon?? He's a paid public servant and when he complains about his very well paid position, why (as his employer) should we not able to challenge his whine? Do we really pay him to whine? Think about it … who pays for your whine?

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Qualtere is the dumbest person at our school. Please don't pass judgment on the entire Skidmore student body based on something he said.

8:09 PM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

Anonymous said...8:09 PM

"Tom Qualtere is the dumbest person at our school."

Thanks for tip.
We had already guessed as much.
Unfortunately as witnessed by the current President, George Bush, being stupid doesn’t necessarily disqualify one from becoming President.
I also understand McCain graduated last from his alma mater.

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There goes the trashing of the republicans again. Last time I looked they are running things. They are also 0ne up on the next city race. That would be Matt Dorsey upposed to Jeff Wait for the city court judge. Matt is another man of of integrity that the democrats are having a hard time finding these days.

9:27 AM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

Dear 9:27 AM

I thought you might enjoy reading about your Republican nominee.
Compliments of today's Raw Story.
If you have time read the whole story, it's funny.

Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain's intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shotinthedark said...8:04 AM

"'Tom Qualtere is the dumbest person at our school.'

Thanks for tip.
We had already guessed as much."

Actually, as a Democrat at Skidmore, I can say that Tom Qualtere is one of the bravest, most likable, and yes, most intelligent people at our college.

At a school where conservatives are such an outnumbered minority, he's managed to rise above the rest of our community and bathe in more positive media attention than any other Skidmore student in memory. Not only did he bring a former Republican cabinet member to our liberal bubble, but also took part in trouncing the Democratic city council last fall.

As somebody who disagrees with most of what he stands for, I can say with complete honesty that Tom is going places. Trust me.

6:30 PM  

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