When I was growing up in America, there was an aphorism that we believed in, like it was received wisdom: “never discuss religion or politics”. Implicit in the assumption was that people don’t generally change their beliefs and you only end up engaging in needless conflict and alienation.
I hope that you don’t unsubscribe from my list after reading this post but I feel I have to take the risk, because YOU may be the reason we can’t have nice things…
On Monday of this week, Fox News fired Tucker Carlson. For many of my friends on Facebook, this was, as we used to say at Beth Israel hospital, a Mitvah– or a blessing from on high. But before you celebrate, listen to my tale of two tribes.
Trump Derangement Syndrome
I am admittedly unusual because I like to hear all sides of an argument and then I listen for what I believe is true. It really matters very little if I agree with everything a person says and it generally matters less if I don’t subscribe to their political affiliation.
For example, I used to attend an invitation only-ideas festival and the voices were all of one political brand so much so that they would joke about “our token Republican” like someone would casually jest about an African-American member at an Augusta National Golf Club dinner. What I noticed from that gathering of luminaries, as well as from my Harvard College reunion, is that only the Democratic tribe was allowed space to speak. As a result of the Trump Derangement Syndrome, I was sad to hear from the graduating students that conservatives had to gather in secret like third century Christians or gay men in the 1950s.
One need only play the “Trump Card” and any discussion will degenerate quickly into ad hominem attacks and vitriol since the public spaces have degenerated into a one-party discourse.
The Root Chakra
In the Hindu religion, the lowest and most primal consciousness is survival or the root chakra. When you are worried about survival, nothing else matters. It is by tickling this center of fear, that we are controlled. We become tribal and seek to silence and destroy our enemies. In many spaces, my older progressive ideal of “I disagree with what you say but I’ll fight for your right to say it” is no longer sacrosanct. On social media, the level of tribalism I have witnessed when attacking non-Democrats is beyond what I would ever have imagined. I once saw a friend post a picture of a Trump/Pence yard sign of a Brooklyn neighbor and ironically post “I can’t believe these people are even allowed to live here. But I guess fascism runs deep in the Ukraine so maybe that explains it.”
For those who may need the joke explained to them, yes there are literal Nazis in the Ukraine but no, the idea that a person who has differing political opinions is automatically a fascist and not deserving of living amongst you is unironically fascist.
While you were cheering on your team...
The point of this blog is that no one has the monopoly on truth and that is why we used to believe in the sanitizing value of free speech. The reason the KKK is no longer visibly active in racially diverse places like the mid-Atlantic states or the South is that when you spew hate speech, you become socially unviable. That is why such crazy people live in western Oregon and Idaho or keep quiet.
For centuries, there was a puppet show called “Punch and Judy” which featured violent conflict between two ridiculous characters- and people ate it up. Now, with the aid of social and mainstream media, people are constantly being fed a fear-based diet and they also are figuratively eating it up; it is fear-mongering and there is a seller’s market for most people.
The Enemy of my Enemy...
In this week where my friends on Facebook are celebrating the firing of Tucker Carlson, I want to tell you about Jimmy Dore and Tucker Carlson and my experience of them both.
I’ve listened to Jimmy Dore for years and was pleased to meet him in 2019 after one of his stand-up comedy shows. I’ve appreciated his fearless attacks upon the hypocrisy of those on the political “left”. He is a dyed-in-the-wool leftist but his hubris is that he can’t seem to abide hypocrisy. I don’t agree with everything he says but then again, why would I need to in order to enjoy the rest of it? That is the old way, before Trump Derangement Syndrome.
For many years, I’ve listened to Tucker Carlson who admittedly is a smarmy and smug orator with tendencies to opine for an Eisenhower-era America. Yet despite his clear CIA background and masterless samurai tendencies, I rarely disagree with the actual content.
What? Wait? Is Dr. Park Tucker Carlson adjacent???
The fool gets all the good lines
Cards on the table time. The first person I ever voted for was Jesse Jackson and the last was Bernie Sanders. I’ve never voted for a Republican president. Yet the movement of the left to the far right has left me, like Jimmy Dore, stuck in the middle. Like the Stealers Wheel song said “Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”
When I met Jimmy Dore after his show in 2019, I mentioned what a fan I was but I also let him know that the things that he is passionate about are the same as Tucker’s main rants. Namely, corporate power, war-mongering, destruction of the middle and lower classes, and consolidation of wealth and power into fewer and fewer hands. I said he was like “the Catholic Tucker Carlson” and Tucker was “the WASPy Jimmy Dore”.
Interestingly, Jimmy, who for years had railed against the fascist right and “MAGA Republicans that watch Tucker Carlson” has been battling shadow banning on YouTube for years, probably never actually watched his enemy’s show, except in sound bites, as I’m sure most of you who hate Tucker haven’t as well.
The point is that Jimmy, who was abandoned by his left friends in media for attacking Democrats, has since appeared multiple times on the popular Tucker Carlson show and was given a platform to espouse his progressive, anti-war, and anti-corporatist beliefs.
So what? I still hate fascists like Tucker...
Did you know that the very definition of fascism was changed after Trump came to office? Yes, words have meaning and so the redefinition of fascism as “right wing” is relevant. With this word play, the Socialist Nazi’s and the Khmer Rouge would lose their bona fides because of their so-called leftist policies. With this slight of hand, I can now unironically accuse my Ukrainian-born neighbors of fascism because I identify as left. Now, I can demand suppression of my perceived enemy’s speech on the grounds that speech that I hate is, by definition, hate speech from a fascist.
More light, less heat
The point of this blog is not to attack your personal or political beliefs. My late friend, Dr. Art Janov, who once treated John Lennon and Yoko Ono, once said “God is a concept by which we measure our own pain”.
In the age of Covid, the medical science became political and the politics became religious. The point of this blog is to say that there once was a self-described “pot head comedian working out of his garage in Pasadena” who got millions of subscribers because he said something true but critical about his own political party and people liked it.
And there once was a preppy son of a CIA director who by his own description participated in the public Punch and Judy shows who acquired the biggest audience on TV because he repeated said things that were true and yet not heard anywhere else.
And somehow, those two mortal enemies found that when they actually listened to each other, as I told Jimmy before he appeared on Tucker Carlson tonight multiple times, they agreed on the really important stuff…
When I attended another Jimmy Dore show in the fall of 2022, he was now ranting about forced Covid vaccines, having suffered what he believes to be complications from the vaccines. What was interesting is that he admitted that half of his live audiences were now “right wingers” and that he was learning to adjust to it.
For those of you who hate others based on your own rigid religiously political identity, I would say you might be the reason we can’t have nice things. While you are arguing about what the puppet masters want you to argue about, your pocket is being picked and they are ransacking your home.
Yesterday was just two days after being fired from Fox and Tucker already received tens of millions of views for this tweeted video: https://twitter.com/TuckerCarlson/status/1651376097349578753
I invite you to listen to the actual words of your fascist enemy to see if they resonate. He admits he has participated in the silliness of media sideshows but the “dog whistle” he invokes is to me, a call to realizing that we are all in this together and that there is a higher loyalty than just to one’s political tribe. So I guess what I’m saying is go ahead an invite your uncle to Thanksgiving; it will be okay.