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Napoleon Moves On

The American Left Has Ceased to Think

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, June 15, 2005.

Napoleon – and for CU history major grads, Napoleon was the Emperor of France in the early 19th century - once supposedly looked at a proposal for the defense of his realm. It required all forces to be strung out around the perimeter able to instantly react to any probe of the border and any attack by sea. Of course, it meant that a large attack would be met by woefully insufficient response and the enemy would be plundering deep inside before primitive communications allowed the French to rally and, with luck, defeat their foe. “What,” the exasperated Emperor inquired, “are you defending against? Smugglers?”

I received several notifications from friends who’ve forwarded MoveOn’s newest cause, although it takes up only a small portion of MoveOn’s website. Apparently, the Bushies are trying to take down Public Broadcasting, and killing funding for Sesame Street, and packing the PBS staff with right wing insanes.

This is horrific because Kenneth Tomlinson, a known quantity and GOP functionary, is the new leader of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He is moving to deliver upon a promise to balance the political and cultural content on Public Television. For example, he’s counting the number of times Bill Moyers’ show disses conservatives, and the number of times DeLay and Bush are mentioned in a poor light, that sort of thing.

MoveOn has wasted and deflected attention away from real concerns with its hysteria in the past, much like environmental groups have foolishly done. They’re Robespierre in utero: all or nothing, right or wrong, this and definitely not that. It’s annoyingly childish, and to my eye obviously self-defeating, and they doom their good intentions by hysteria and a failure to correctly apply their forces. What, after all, are they defending against?

First, public television as we know it and as that rabid right wing loony Garrison Keillor once wrote, is doomed. Its unique qualities have been usurped by the vastness of the new video worlds on cable television. PBS served its purpose far better than most public projects. Its terrific shows, like Sesame Street and Front Line, and its political roundtables like Washington Week and Now, face different futures. Knowing this, why are we, without query, to defend this obvious straw dog?

Anyone with experience and years and brilliance beyond the norm, like me, knows that conservative households adore Sesame Street. Children love it and will watch and learn before prayer as easily as before a Wicca ceremony. I don’t for one minute think anything near a remote majority of Republican households would tolerate its demise, or a threat to it. They grew up on it.

MoveOn knows this, but it’s concerned about the adult, political content and uses Cookie Monster as a gossamer. It wants to argue this rather than apply more firepower to expanding the ownership of our huge media and then let the market work. That would meet the Left’s desires and attract genuine conservative support. But, here’s the problem: the Left doesn’t want to admit the market works. The Left doesn’t want to fight for hearts and minds at home; they just want to write lesson plans.

MoveOn and the Left are losing a war they haven’t defined; they don’t understand their enemy at all, and can only portray them as evil; they’re defending amorphous borders to no point but exhausting themselves, and the recipients of their pleas, by this Chicken Little approach that I find terribly annoying.

As in the case of Ward Churchill here in Boulder, the Left cannot come to grips with the inner hypocrisies when – let’s go to the cliché o matic reference guide, here…..ah! - It cannot come to grips with its inner hypocrisies when “chickens come home to roost.” Ward Churchill tried to get people fired for their views through the years, and that’s okay? It was with the Left. People try to get Ward Churchill fired for his views and that’s awful. One of the people Churchill tried to bully away in the past is doing a film about him. Probably won’t aid Churchill’s image. Large chicken.

The American Left has ceased to think. It worships people that used to think, like Noam Chomsky, but it cannot define itself, it cannot motivate itself. There are no rising stars of the charisma and brilliance of the past because the Left is now the reactionary force, trying to preserve past victories because it failed to move forward at all, and lost touch with the American public. We’re about to lose women’s choice, we’re about to get a draft for wars declared by executive fiat and not voted by the Congress. You want money for what?

The United States Senate is only two votes short of passing a bill outlawing the burning of an American flag. In history, civilizations decline and fall when they substitute trinket for substance, dictator for Senate, relics of Saints for the divine lessons imparted. Mere flag for rights and law. This is, by far, more dangerous to people, than whatever happens with Public Broadcasting. What, after all, are we defending against?