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Tribal Drums

Regression To, And Of, The Mean

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, May 19, 2010.

The very disgusting Pat Buchannon, a Catholic bigot and fascist defender, recently noted that Elena Kagan is Jewish and if elevated to the Supreme Court, one third of the Court will be from The Chosen, ten times their population percentage. He regrets the lack of WASPs on the Court, but this didn't bother him when the sixth Catholic was so elevated to twice their national population percentage, because he is one. Only now. That tribal membership by population percentage should be a criteria for the Court is only a danger when his tribe is the majority.

In a nation without a physical frontier, which also provides a mental place in imagination for our betterment, our species is reverting to the more explicit and still stupid tribalism of centuries past, and this in actual and theoretical debasement of everything this nation stands for. It comes from both the conservative right, simply because it is tradition, and from the politically acquisitive left, because it produced useful voter blocks, and we see its ugly manifestations in the outright racial prejudices of the Tea Party idiots and the demographic calculations of spin masters and campaign strategists. It's always been there, of course, but the momentum is to publicly proclaim it now in almost every field. This is the failure of our educational system and the religious values ostentatiously proclaimed but not lived. The increase in obvious petty tribalism by faith or gene finds its most obvious example in the Tea Party, which is primarily white and unaccomplished, but also in other distant and often trivial concerns, unidentified as such by a media fearing blowback, and so fear truth.

For example, here in Colorado we have four quarterbacks competing for the Bronco's job, but only two are getting media tongue baths. They are Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn, both highly decent guys who work hard and have devoted followings. While both are promising, they get the coverage they do because of their appeal to related, but distinct, tribal drum circles. Brady Quinn is from Notre Dame, a Catholic hero factory, and Tim Tebow was supposedly saved from being aborted by his missionary mother's love. He is, therefore, adored by the anti-abortion crowd, which has many Catholic members but is primarily evangelical Protestant and utilized by political conservatives for advantage.

People who could normally give a flying plate of bat guano about pro football or even athletics are now buying up Tebow knickknacks or mooning at posters of the handsome Quinn because their particular hero's success will somehow validate their lives. Some sports columnists are pushing Quinn, others Tebow, and this despite the fact that the Heisman and college stardom or even athleticism are not indicative of NFL level competence. Ask Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell.

This has produced some self mortification.

There is a short, pointed, considered, and quite brilliant monograph by Garry Wills on the New Republic website this week. Wills is someone I greatly admire and have since Nixon Agonistes in the 1960's, and most recently in his thoughts on William F. Buckley, a man I despised but with whom Wills had a devoted friendship till Buckley's bigotry and hypocrisy drove them apart. In all cases, Wills retains an open mind and separates emotion from reality. His New Republic essay is about the Catholic Church and its revolting handling of its numerous and international revelations of institutional rape, and why, with all that is now known about what has become a largely criminal organization, he stays Catholic. Like Thomas Cahill, he is aware that the Pope and Cardinals and their very, very gay lifestyle producing lisping historical and ignorant re-enactors of medieval rite and romance, have no relation to Christ, or His particular value system.

He points out that the Church has always wanted to control what was holy or not. They have made the infantilism of celibate priests a major goal to control the masses under the stupidity that celibacy increases spirituality, which must sound amusing to the very married original Apostles.

While the battle for snaps rages in Dove Valley, here in Boulder another priest is up for damnation for past horrors. His defenders will be such out of tribal infantilism rather than justice, as will some of his attackers, with no more insight than sports columnists. Just as Buchanan bemoans too many Jews on the Supreme Court but not, by his own criteria, too many Catholics, this social elevation of street gang values - incorporating racism, religion, and trivialities - is a greater threat to, and stain on, this world than anything accruing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Although, it was the tribalism mindset that caused the spill, just as it killed two shuttle loads of Astronauts in the past.