Monday, August 30, 2010

The Thoughtful Comment That's Better Than The Column

This comment below was written in response to Frank Rich's column on Jane Mayer's story in the New Yorker about the billionaire Koch brothers bankrolling tea party causes. Mayer's story was enlightening, for sure.
Rich uses Mayer's story to jab at Obama for not getting on a high horse and denouncing the Koch brothers. Rich uses Mayer's story to say that conservatives are always bad, while liberals are always good. That's all Frank Rich does, which is why I don't read him much.
Fact is, rich people -- be they democrat, republican or whatever -- bankroll most of the causes.
This first comment on Rich's column offers a lot to think about. It's also refreshing because comments on the internet are rarely thoughtful:
I really wish we could have an intelligent, thoughtful dialog that sheds a little more light on what is happening in this country. It is just too easy to lump Murdoch and the Koch brothers together into some vast right-wing conspiracy out to take over the world. We call them names and wring our hands because that does, in fact, seem to be their strategy. But what is the truth, really? Is it really a concerted effort on the part of all the monied class to wipe out the poor and middle classes? When and where are their secret meetings held? Is there really a cadre of evildoers bent on taking the powerless down? Did they actually go out and recruit Roberts and Scalia and the rest to hand down decisions in their favor? Are well-educated, thoughtful judges really that venal? If not, we need to try harder to find out what, besides money, drives them.

We have focused on what makes people without much money vote against their own best interests, and a lot of us have concluded it’s ignorance, fed by Murdoch’s propaganda machine. What I’d like to know is what drives Murdoch and his ilk? Is it really just money? I have to think that after a point it simply can’t be. How many yachts, helicopters, and expensive cars can one person really keep track of? What really goes on in their minds? Can we ever find out if no one speaks with an authentic voice anymore? When have we last heard people on either side really speak from their hearts instead of in carefully calibrated sound bites? Can it be that if Murdoch did speak from his heart we would find he is truly Machiavellian, with a Hitlerian vision of a world full of supermen like him? If he really is a megalomaniac motivated to create a super race, then he ought to be exposed. If he isn’t, can he please rationally and seriously rebut the arguments that reveal that so much of what he stands for is divisive not just economically but in every other way? Why do people like him defend as an intellectual property right, for instance, the refusal to reveal the content of the liquid used in hydraulic fracturing that may be polluting ground water? Is it because the supermen are not hurt by it, and the extinction of those of us who aren’t super is considered a good thing? If that isn’t the case, then please tell us why having information that might (or might not) save people’s lives and protect our water table is a bad thing. Is it that knowledge is no longer power, and money is, and power is the greatest aphrodisiac of all? Is it really, in the end, as Mad Men might have us believe, all about sex? It doesn’t even feel that advanced. We’re more like children in a giant playground yelling, “Did not,” “Did too,” at each other.

We’re not living in a film where people can be identified as being good or bad by the color of their hats, and we ought to start admitting that. My fear is that, as in “The Informant,” we, all of us, even the supermen, maybe most especially the supermen, even the whistle-blowers among us, are short-sighted and selfish, and have given up on the idea of nobility. Could it be that it is not a conspiracy, but a moral vacuum that has gotten us to this point? Might it be that increasingly our wars are about religion because of that vacuum? I don’t know the answer, but I do think that if we don’t want to go back to an age of unenlightenment, we need to stop calling names and arm ourselves with information.