Sunday, May 9, 2010
Right Wing Epistemic Closure, Zombie Tea Party George Washington, and Slavery in America
"We needed workers and they needed a place to live."
So, we reanimate George Washington, ask him what he would change in hindsight, and the answer said Tea Party costume ball attendee offers is some vague response about telecommunications. No, he doesn't mention the genocide of Native Americans, the second class citizenship of women, ending slavery, or expanding the franchise to property-less white men. Nope. He mentions the Internet. Our zombie George Washington could have massaged any of these answers with a bit of Realpolitik. Instead, he showed us who the Tea Party Fox News crowd has always been--a myopic group, robbed of moral and political vision, wrapped in the swaddling clothes of their own victimology laced patriotism. A state of affairs that would be funny if it were not so sad.
As we have seen during these last months, the Tea Party movement embodies the worst type of American exceptionalism mixed with the most willful of self-delusion. We are a shining city on the hill. The greatest nation to ever exist. We are a country born of providence, divine will, and immaculate conception. In one fell swoop our zombie George Washington demonstrated what is so wrong with the American polity...and our educational system.
It is difficult if not impossible to engage in a substantive discussion of the issues with the nouveau Right-wing Populists because their grasp of the past is so flimsy. In turn, their understanding of the present is flawed. When these Tea Bag brigands are exposed to new information they reject it in order to resolve what would alternatively be a crippling state of semi-permanent cognitive dissonance.
We do not necessarily need the rich discourse surrounding epistemic closure and Conservatives (meaning they are simply talking too each other in a closed loop) that has arisen these last few weeks to explain the Tea Party phenomenon and the intellectual crisis on the Right--a crisis that is perfectly embodied by the rise of Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin as the de facto leaders of the Republican Party. No, we can simply point the camera and microphone at the Tea Party movement and their leadership. There, in the starkest of terms, we see the patrimony, spawn, and parenthood of epistemic closure and contemporary American Conservatism.
The masses are once again proven to be asses. And ironically, zombie George Washington has proven the genius of the framers in their creating a representative government designed to circumvent the passions of the mob.