Part 1—Heat versus light at Salon: Is America facing a new Civil War?
That’s what it says at Salon. A few weeks ago, Andrew O’Hehir was trashing Quentin Tarantino for clowning around, in Django Unchained, about the American Civil War.
On Saturday, O’Hehir said we face a new Civil War. For our money, his rhetoric was perhaps a bit overheated:
O’HEHIR (12/5/13): So even though it’s a truism of American public discourse that the Civil War never ended, it’s also literally true. We’re still reaping the whirlwind from that long-ago conflict, and now we face a new Civil War, one focused on divisive political issues of the 21st century–most notably the rights and liberties of women and LGBT people–but rooted in toxic rhetoric and ideas inherited from the 19th century.“We face a new Civil War,” O’Hehir said—and he said this new Civil War is rooted in toxic rhetoric.
The analysts rolled their eyes at this point. “Look who’s talking,” one analyst said, as O’Hehir kept pouring it on:
O’HEHIR (continuing directly): We’ve just emerged from a presidential campaign that exposed how hardened our political and cultural divide has become, and how poorly the two sides understand each other. Part of the Republican problem, in an election that party thought it would win easily, was that those who felt a visceral disgust toward both the idea and the reality of President Barack Obama simply could not believe that they didn’t represent a majority. As many Republicans are now aware, the party now faces an existential crisis. It’s all very well to go on TV and talk about attracting Latinos and downplaying cultural wedge issues. But the activist core of the Republican Party is neo-Confederate, whether it thinks of itself that way or not. It isn’t interested in common cause with Mexicans or turning down the moral thermostat. Just ask Rick Santorum: What it wants is war.Does Rick Santorum really “want war?” O’Hehir didn’t quote the toxic rhetoric which proves this about the neo-Confederate. But we’ll have to admit it:
As he name-called and girded for battle, it almost sounded, to our ears, as if O’Hehir does! This is the way the fiery liberal “turned down the moral thermostat:”
O’HEHIR: Thanks to Lincoln’s great political victory in that Congress, slavery has faded into the history books—maybe too much so. As the controversy over Quentin Tarantino’s slave-revenge western “Django Unchained” demonstrates, it still isn’t a history we know how to talk about. It may seem melodramatic to claim that the curse of slavery hangs over us still, but Lincoln himself clearly foresaw that possibility, as his slave-owning predecessor Thomas Jefferson had before him...Is it “melodramatic” to claim “that the curse of slavery hangs over us still?” Depending on context, it certainly can be—although, depending on context, the claim surely isn’t “wrong.”
I’m not sure America ever paid that debt, in blood or money or any other currency. The lingering effects of our racist history–from the resegregation of our public schools to the enduring and astonishing “wealth gap” between whites and blacks–are national problems, not just Southern problems. Our new Civil War is infused with the undead spirit of the old one and waged by a rebellious neo-Confederacy rooted in the states of the Old South, but its influence can be felt, as with the pro-slavery forces of the 1860s, in every part of the country.
For our money, the curse of slavery hangs over us still as folk like O’Hehir rant and fume, urging liberals to march off to war, as fiery people like O'Hehir have urged since the dawn of time. Before he was done, O’Hehir had redefined Michigan as a “border state”—and he had said that North Dakota and South Dakota were each part of “the neo-Confederacy.”
In these ways, O’Hehir lowered the moral thermostat, despite the provocations of Santorum, who so plainly wants war.
We were struck by the extent to which O’Hehir seems to want new war. At the same time, we were struck by the high inanity of much of the work at Salon.
Yesterday, at the great liberal journal, a great deal of nonsense was being promoted. It made us wonder if we liberals are still as sharp as we’ve always said we are.
What was offered at Salon? At the top of Salon's front page, this piece by Antonia Crane was featured:
My lucky thunder thighsInteresting! Meanwhile, near the top of Salon's list of reports, we spotted these thoughtful offerings:
As a stripper, my thick legs were a liability. But they also carried me through drug addiction and grief.
Former drunks make unstoppable runnersThat last report was promoted by a photo of a young woman’s pleasing bosom. The young woman’s head was missing. So was the rest of her body.
Exercise can provide an excellent escape from addiction. A sober marathoner offers 8 reasons why.
When I learned to hunt
I never thought I'd don an Elmer Fudd outfit when I first moved to the sticks. Who knew it could be so satisfying?
Weirdest 3-D printed objects ever
From Thomas Jefferson's bust to bikinis for your bust, a slideshow of the weirdest 3-D replicas around (SLIDE SHOW)
Go ahead, liberals! Breathe hard!
At Salon, the edification was endless. Also, we’re facing a new Civil War! This war will be fought about the fact that the activist core of the GOP “isn’t interested in common cause with Mexicans.”
A new year is starting here at the Howler. We continue to think that the most interesting story in American media is the continuing emergence of a new liberal world—the liberal world that didn't exist during the Clinton-Gore years, the world that didn't take form until after Bush failed in Iraq.
How smart, how determined, will this liberal world be? How much light will emerge from this world? To what extent will we bring heat?
So far, the rhetoric is sometimes exciting. Other major progressive virtues may not yet be at hand.
Tomorrow: Love of the clan, love of war