The poor dear just can’t help herself

The Grey Lady of Times Square started a new column on philosophy three weeks ago and after an interesting (to this philosophy major) opening article, shot straight into the gutter of left-wing wacko rubric. It’s true that the Times knows its base, but why drive off fringe readers,who once added to its subscription base?

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13 responses to “The poor dear just can’t help herself

  1. Anonymous

    We get that you’re angry, CF, but it would be nice if you’d at least explain why you find the column by the professor so enraging?

    Otherwise it just sounds like you saw something you disagreed with and decided the hell with it, I won’t engage, I’ll boycott.

  2. Peg

    Wow. I thought I had to be reading something from The Onion – but I checked (twice) and it’s really the Times.

    I will tell Anon why Christopher is correct. Right from the start, this idiot is justifying our representatives hiding from the people because they are fearful that Tea Partiers are going to attack them.

    Well – check just a few posts down here at Chris’ blog. It’s the Democratic congressmen that are physically attacking people; not the other way around!

    I just keep on hoping that the voting public is going to remember all this come November. Can’t wait to see this fellow’s column after that election.

  3. not so anonymous

    The “anger” the Tea Party expresses might have something to do with always being accused of resisting health care reform instead of resisting health care take over by big brother…

  4. HG

    I think an earlier article in this philosophy series asked the question whether, because people are unhappy, we should stop reproducing and let the human species die out. Brilliant.

  5. Last Liberal Standing

    I repeat the request made by Anonymous: “We get that you’re angry, CF, but it would be nice if you’d at least explain why you find the column by the professor so enraging?”

    Peg attempted to answer the question for you, but her answer falls short. She scoffs at the idea that Democrats want to avoid angry Tea Partiers, and why? Because, “It’s the Democratic congressmen that are physically attacking people; not the other way around!”

    Really, Peg? Are there quite a few Democratic congressment physically attacking people? It’s a trend, huh?

    So, back to reality. The question remains unanswered, CF. What do you see in the philosophy column that qualifies as “left-wing wacko rubric”?

    As a certified left-wing wacko, I should mention that I do consider a whole lot of the Tea Party anger to be nothing more than a general sense of annoyance, frustration, and anxiety–vague, uncomfortable feelings about the present and the future, but without any real sense of who’s to blame–stoked by idiots like Glenn Beck.

    As I’ve said before, it reminds me of Howard Beale in Network, who roused a nationful of excitable rabble by encouraging them to shout out their windows, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

    If you haven’t watched the scene lately, here it is. Think, “Tea Party: First Generation.”

  6. Helsa Poppin

    I skimmed this article. It hits with Orwellian precision most of the talking points the liberal elites have agreed to mention when discussing the Tea Party: (1) its members are “angry” (refer to this anger repeatedly using terms like seething and hysterical and nihilistic rage); (2) Obama is African-American; (3) some Tea Partiers would like to preserve Medicare and Social Security while restricting spending and big government – how confusing and contradictory!; (4) suddenly in the past couple of years a uniquely American myth of self-reliance and individuality has possessed the body politic like a demon; (5) Tea Partiers were happy with everything until recently, and now in their extreme privileged-white-man rage they are attempting to act political like the virtuous left with their protests and grass roots organizing but it’s coming out all incoherent and scary and it’s bound to erupt in Nazism.

    It’s all so incredibly snide and typically lazy. Why bother to try to understand? Better to name-call, to pathologize, to sneer. Articles like this really send my nihilistic rage to the boiling point.

  7. Peg

    LLS – how many people do you know who identify as Tea Party supporters who have physically attacked people?

    Do you really believe that congressmen need to avoid town halls, for fear that Tea Party members will assault them?

    If you do not, then you should conclude, as the rest of us have, that this is just mindless screaming from a frustrated leftie.

    Are all liberals and/or all people on the left like this? Of course not. But with all the worthwhile opinion that the Times could print – pretty damn sad that they select this crap. And yes; it is total crap.

  8. Last Liberal Standing

    Helsa, let me guess: You’re as mad as hell, and you’re not going to take this anymore!

    1. Play the video.
    2. When the chant gets your blood boiling, don’t take it anymore!
    3. Shout out your window.
    4. Just remember: Things are bad–worse than bad.
    5. Get mad, damn it! Stop dithering. You should be kicking some ass.
    6. Ideally, you’ll be two kinds of mad–angry, and crazy!

  9. Last Liberal Standing

    Peg asks, “how many people do you know who identify as Tea Party supporters who have physically attacked people?”

    Answer: None. But the real point of the article was not about physical attacks that have occurred. YOU went for that angle in your first comment, where you tried to answer a question that was asked of Chris.

    Peg then asks, “Do you really believe that congressmen need to avoid town halls, for fear that Tea Party members will assault them?”

    Answer: I don’t think they need to avoid town halls for fear of physical assaults. If I were a congressman, I’d consider avoiding town halls either because I might look foolish and ineffectual, trying to reason with a pack of shouting Tea Partiers, and so I’d LOSE votes for my efforts; or because I’d want to shout at the shouters, “Shut the hell up, you maniacs!”–and I’d lose a whole lot of votes for losing my cool.

    There’s only one place in the article that suggests physical violence might be a consideration. It’s in the very last paragraph: “To date, the Tea Party has committed only the minor, almost atmospheric violences of propagating falsehoods, calumny and the disruption of the occasions for political speech — the last already to great and distorting effect. But if their nihilistic rage is deprived of interrupting political meetings as an outlet, where might it now go? With such rage driving the Tea Party, might we anticipate this atmospheric violence becoming actual violence, becoming what Hegel called, referring to the original Jacobins’ fantasy of total freedom, “a fury of destruction”? There is indeed something not just disturbing, but frightening, in the anger of the Tea Party.”

    This is speculation on the writer’s part. Who knows if actual violence will occur? But it’s not beyond belief.

    (By the way, the article itself is kind of boring in the middle–at least that’s my reaction, because I don’t really know what the guy’s saying, for several paragraphs. But, unlike most of you, I get a kick out of the general message, that the Tea Party crowd often doesn’t know what it’s shouting about.)

  10. He did the "right thing," but what was it?

    Peg wrote: “It’s the Democratic congressmen that are physically attacking people; not the other way around! ”
    With an exclamation point yet!

    Come off it, Peg. After you’ve exclaimed something unbecoming your intelligence in the heat of the moment, admit it and move on. Or at least just move on: don’t bother trying to defend it.

  11. Peg

    I could be in error, but this paragraph sure seems to be pretty close to the beginning of the post:

    The seething anger that seems to be an indigenous aspect of the Tea Party movement arises, I think, at the very place where politics and metaphysics meet, where metaphysical sentiment becomes political belief. More than their political ideas, it is the anger of Tea Party members that is already reshaping our political landscape. As Jeff Zeleny reported last Monday in The Times, the vast majority of House Democrats are now avoiding holding town-hall-style forums — just as you might sidestep an enraged, jilted lover on a subway platform — out of fear of confronting the incubus of Tea Party rage that routed last summer’s meetings. This fear-driven avoidance is, Zeleny stated, bringing the time-honored tradition of the political meeting to the brink of extinction.

    “Seething rage?” “Enraged, jilted lover on a subway platform?” Sure sounds like fear of violence to me… Or, are our politicians made of such un-stern stuff today, that they are too frightened to go to a town hall and hear constituents who are angry and unhappy with how they are governing?

    Speaking of “unbecoming” – this column and this writer really are “unbecoming” of the New York Times – and why so many, who are not to the mid to far left, view it more today as a partisan rag with great photos rather than the great newspaper it once was.

    As for my own statement about whacko-violent Democrats… don’t libertarians ever get to say something for effect? Geesh…..

  12. Way Up Valley

    As a product of the kind of philosophy classes guys like this teach, I have to stick my three cents in on the substance of the guy’s blather, to the extent there is substance.

    His point, which he may or may not even be consciously aware is politically motivated, boils down to this:

    No man is an island.

    For those men who believed they were islands, realizing this can be upsetting.

    Some of these men are really, really, scary upset right now and they are scaring us with their scary scariness, so let’s take a moment and analyze.

    His other point, which is that like it or not we need a government quite a bit bigger than one which can be drowned in a bath tub, is OK, and probably even true.

    But all the Hegelian bullshit aside (and I am confident in pushing it aside, being very familiar with Hegel, and Kant, et al)…

    Let’s take his lover’s analogy. I hate you because I need you? [Insert buzzer]

    What the angry are angry at is that they were (are) lied to, cheated on, fucked over in a hundred ways, and without any good explanation, apology/mea culpa, or even believable excuse.

    So he says: The Tea Partiers are having complex love emotions.

    And I says: That is a load of crap. And plenty on the left are having the same emotions, since the people in DC are equal-opportunity liars, for the most part.

    Smart people acting badly and destroying the country aren’t much better than dumb people acting badly and destroying the country.

    I’m not saying who’s who…I’m just saying that I am willing to take Bernstein’s babble as misguided philosophical muckey-muck, with some interesting content woven into it, rather than some kind of deliberate Newspeak. That gives him too much credit. It probably gives the Times too much credit, also, since the Times is at least as interested in navel-gazing erudite distractionism as it is in hard-core leftish politicking.

    In Hegelian terms, Bernstein isn’t a political tool unless we as the observers make him one.

    Why make him one?

    He’s just another overeducated babbler, take it or leave it.

    You either find Proust fascinating or a waste of time, or perhaps both. Liking Proust doesn’t make you smart, and never having heard of Proust doesn’t make you dumb…

    Depends whether you think a madeleine is something to think about or just dunk in your coffee. Or I guess tea.

    There are people in and around the “Tea Party” who probably crave violence, just as there were people around SNCC and other groups in the 60s who craved violence.

    The press won’t do nuance on who the Tea Partiers are or aren’t — easier to dismiss them as a scary collective — but I don’t think Bernstein’s mildly interesting rumination on pop psych of the group is all that offensive.