Saturday, April 26, 2008

Peggy Noonan: racist b**** or jingoistic f***tard?

I use the provocative header to justify Ms. Noonan's dispassionate observation:
Snooty lefties get angry when you ask them to talk about these things. They get resentful. Who are you to question my patriotism? But no one is questioning his patriotism, they're questioning its content, its fullness.
She has raised the issue of what Hunter has rather aptly called "the eugenics of patriotism":
Is that not what we are speaking of here, in the most circuitous possible of ways: the pedigree of the man, the suspicious ethnicity, the unnerving multiculturalism? Are we not speaking of the eugenics of patriotism, patriotism as inherited, bred trait? Because if we are not, by what metric are we taking the measure of such things, and is getting teary-eyed at the mention of gold prospectors truly the test to be administered?
Noonan raises the most absurd question, one I can only make sense of it in terms of the worst jingoistic racism:
Main thought. Hillary Clinton is not Barack Obama's problem. America is Mr. Obama's problem. He has been tagged as a snooty lefty, as the glamorous, ambivalent candidate from Men's Vogue, the candidate who loves America because of the great progress it has made in terms of racial fairness. Fine, good. But has he ever gotten misty-eyed over . . . the Wright Brothers and what kind of country allowed them to go off on their own and change everything? How about D-Day, or George Washington, or Henry Ford, or the losers and brigands who flocked to Sutter's Mill, who pushed their way west because there was gold in them thar hills? There's gold in that history.
In contrast:
John McCain carries it in his bones. Mr. McCain learned it in school, in the Naval Academy, and, literally, at grandpa's knee. Mrs. Clinton learned at least its importance in her long slog through Arkansas, circa 1977-92.
So, growing up in Hawaii doesn't count because it's not really America? (Where was McCain born? Oh yes, Panama.)

Hunter goes on:
Noonan offers not a single element of evidence to support her hypothesis that the patriotism of one candidate needs evaluation, but that of the other two does not. It is a hypothesis not simply devoid of fact, but devoid even of blind assertion: there is no anecdote given to support the theory. There is no past event to be pointed at, or suspicious phrasing to be parsed, or even hushed conspiracy theory. Noonan at no point, during her channelling of the American psyche, offers even one thin word towards explaining why Obama's patriotism needs questioning: she merely asserts that it does, in comparison with the candidate that "carries it in his bones," and "learned it in school, in the Naval Academy, and, literally, at grandpa's knee."
The crux in Hunter's analysis?
Does Barack Obama, in other words, as a black man who grew up exposed to different cultures, from Hawaii to Jakarta to Harvard to Chicago, have the genes for true patriotism?
You can read Hunter's fine dissection of Noonan's twaddle here.

Noonan's lofty perch for all this?
So: Pennsylvania. As seen from the distance of West Texas, central California and Oklahoma, which is where I've been.
Well, Ms. Noonan, I was born and raised in central California. I have grapevines in my New Mexico back yard to honor the soil from which I come. My uncles were farmers and I have fruit trees in my yard too. Just because you have visited these places doesn't mean you ever took your head out of your ass the clouds where Henry Ford brought us the model-T but was not a Jew-hating Nazi sympathizer. I feel nostalgia for how my father felt about those early Ford automobiles but you can bet I don't get misty thinking about Henry Ford.

This pissed me off so I must be a snooty lefty, and believe me, I am damn proud to be one. I fly the flag proudly. I cry when I hear the national anthem. I read and re-read the Constitution. I honor and support our troops whether I support any given war or not. I hold the government accountable because I believe in government of, by, and for the people. Question my patriotism and damn right I get angry. Publish codswallop like this - with its endless, baseless speculation and obvious inferences - and it ticks me off. What a disingenuous pantload you dumped on America's doorstep, Ms. Noonan!

Peggy Noonan should never again be taken seriously except as a widely published threat to common sense and rational discourse.

--the BB


Jane R said...

Ah, this woke me up nicely on a grey Saturday!

Twaddle indeed.

Paul said...

Jane, I hope you get some down time to yourself this weekend. Bet you're looking forward to end of semester!

It was the first article I read this morning, so woke me up with a jolt also.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Oh, the stupidity! I wonder if the Noon gets misty-eyed over the massacre of the Native Americans. I wonder if she gets misty-eyed over the founding of the land of the free that managed to accommodate slavery. I wonder if she gets misty-eyed over the internment of Japanese-American citizens during WWII.

How can she have a forum? Because this sort of fecking drivel resonates with not a few of our fellow citizens is the tragedy that enables this misty-eyed failure of a writer to have a public forum.

I wish I had not read this, Paul. I fear my head will explode now, and it will be all your fault.

Paul said...

Dear Mimi, you may want to skip this site today. It won't get better.

I am already crushed by the burden of guilt over the world food crisis caused by my hoarding rice. Please don't lay your exploding head on my doorstep also.

(I'll never get the bloodstains off my porch.)

Jane R said...

Down time? What's that? Not at this time of year.

I will take a short walk in the woods today, and another tomorrow. Glad I live near a patch of woods!

Otherwise, it's words, words, words. Bleah.

Oh, and liturgy tomorrow, thanks be to Godde, where I have to chant something I haven't learned yet. Should be fun.

Paul said...

Well, Jane, at least I dreamed on your behalf. The walks in the woods should count, brief though they be. Hugs!

Diane said...

oh, Paul so well said! I am so sick of conservatives getting misty eyed over "red state values" while actually small towns are disappearing! She's really getting misty-eyed about free market capitalism, not democracy or America. It's only one aspect of America that she is interested in lifting up -- the old Horatio Alger "rags to riches" part -- and there is nothing else, it seems, in America worth getting misty-eyed over.

Paul said...

Diane, indeed. There is so much worth getting misty over but this bit of mythology is not, for my money, one of them. Lord, have mercy.