Thursday, July 17, 2014
Maybe Rust Was Right
"I Clapped a Pistol To His Head," http://www.victorianweb.org/victorian/art/illustration/pagets/35.html
I've been watching, with delight, True Detective, Season I. Whatever you do, avoid the Rolling Stone article:
There's nothing like a critic who thinks he's above it all. See, e.g., Cokie Roberts. I'm tempted to watch the whole series again, start to finish, after I get done with the last disc, which should arrive in the mail by the weekend. Perfect timing. In the first episode the two detectives have just seen a gruesome cult/sex murder victim and are shaken by the experience. Harrelson asks McCoughnahey--his character's name is Rust Cohle--what he thinks about life. It's the first time they've talked about "deep things" after riding around together for four months. Cohle is new to Louisiana, a cold, distant personality with a mostly obscure past. He was a lawman in Texas. Harrelson is trying to warm him up with his question. Rust says (paraphrasing): "well, I think human self-consciousness is basically a malignant evolutionary mistake, and humans should probably just stop reproducing altogether to save the planet." Harrelson reacts with shock. "Let's just have silence in the car, ok, just don't say anything else about what you think." It's the kind of thing Watson might have said to Holmes on more than one occasion.
The reaction by most politicians and far too many Americans to the human crisis at our southern border, a crisis involving thousands of children--refugees--is so appalling it confirms Rust's pessimism. There should be no doubt at all about what to do regarding these children. America must give them succor and care, and in abundance. There is absolutely no other moral choice, and no reason at all for equivocation. There isn't even any need to take note of the plain fact that America has, for decades, formed the second part of the equation, Demand, on which drug suppliers have orbited from their various Central and South American niches, moons around our sun.
Instead, the many reactions and comments on the right are nothing less than fascist in their brutality. There are so many it isn't even possible to pick the worst. Possibly the Republican Congressional Representative from Georgia, a medical doctor, who suggested that the children pose an Ebola threat wins the slime prize, since as a medical person he should presumably know that there has never been even one case of Ebola virus in Central America. Vying for the prize would be the southern California town that greeted a school bus full of children pretty much the same way the good folks of Little Rock, Arkansas, greeted a few black children going to a formerly white school back in '57. (And that little greeting party caused President Dwight Eisenhower (R, Kansas) to call out the National Guard--to protect the children.)
What seems just as depressing is the willingness of too many Democrats, including possibly even Mr. Obama, to search for some "compromise" with the racists and "southern strategists" who control the whole Republican Party. Solutions to the "problem" at the border seems to include, for even liberal Democrats, fixing the law which admits that children in such straits require a review of their circumstances before being tossed back into the unknown from whence they fled. What the hell is that? Other than a strategy of denial, a method for looking in the opposite direction with great interest while criminalities are occurring in plain view. As Rust says later to his superior officer, after he's figured out what's really going on with the murdered, "You're all morons."
America is coming dangerously close to the kind of "solutions" that Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and the various other dictators who've brushed aside all niceties to get their way as our history has ground its iron wheels through the last century or two. When people call for sending troops to the Texas border (as many Republicans in office have done), what are they really suggesting. These children are walking up to American authorities with their hands in the air, not sneaking over the river and into the brush in the dead of night. Are we to show them that they can't "take advantage" of our supposedly Christian morality by shooting them down, as examples for the ones that follow? That would seem to be Rick Perry's incoherent message, and Mr. Gomert's as well.
If we profess to stand for anything other than power, refugee children offer us an opportunity and a choice. If Mr. Obama cares to lead on anything at all, to be anything beyond a capable manager of a system that's grown too big for anyone to manage, this is his opportunity.
Or maybe Rust was right. For the rest of the sickening, two-faced cow-towing to fear, as was pointed out at Mr. Edroso's yesterday, Lewis Carroll has already drawn the true picture of these craven cowards, running from ragged children because they can't stand to spend a nickle of their preposterous treasure:
I weep for you, the Walrus said:
I deeply sympathize.
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.
It's possible Mr. Carroll had politicians and other Grand Men of Great Britain in mind when he wrote the poem. He did live, after all, in the land of Dickens. As, apparently, do we.
As the week unfolded--the Malaysian airliner shoot down accomplished by incompetents furnished with sophisticated weapons by Mr. Putin (who proves himself frighteningly incompetent), the Gaza incursion (340 dead Gazans, 2 dead Israelis), the continuing children's border tragedy--I began to understand True Detective as allegory. This was perhaps already my deeper understanding when I chose to combine a slight review of the work with current events; it seems a much more credible way to read the HBO series (season one) after this week. In this reading the female corpse with antlers arranged in prayer, which Harrelson and McCoughnahey discover at the start, stands for something. Perhaps it is our mostly optimistic grounding, the idea that here in the US things are at least aiming to "get better." "Lady Liberty" is a corpse. They keep passing a road sign in their travels: "Who Killed Me" it cries out, bold headline over a woman's face. As they dig deeper into the mystery, the supposed moral leaders are all exposed as frauds and worse, collaborators in evil.
Peter Dale Scott wrote a book a couple of decades back called "Deep Politics." Give it a read sometime.