Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Your Dream Is My Nightmare

A recent post on Eschaton mentions how "civility" is suddenly back in vogue, now that Democrats are so close to grabbing some power. Civility was out of fashion for at least a decade. Rush Limbaugh and his clones reigned the airwaves uninterrupted by any civility. Remember political correctness? P.C.? Remember how viciously the wingnuts attacked it? Well, political correctness did have a strong flavor of civility, the idea that people should be called what they want to be called rather than what ever smearword others have invented for some group. Limbaugh decided that feminists were feminazis. I don't remember many articles on the need for Limbaugh to learn civility.

But times change, of course. Now the liberals and progressives are called traitors and terrorist-lovers and so on. But civility, well, that is a problem on the left side of the political spectrum. Because the left is ANGRY. And what is the right? Never angry, it seems. Only moral and virtuous.

We are scared of the wingnuts, "we" as in the mainstream media and most political commentators. That's why suddenly there is this call for civility. Too bad that the wingnuts see civility as a female virtue, a virtue of the subjugated. Civility equals obedience for them. When the press suddenly tells us that we need to regain the old virtue of civility, be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

The reason I can write all this is that I actually am civil. It's my mother's doing, and I can't deprogram what she so excellently programmed a long time ago. Not that I haven't tried. But the civility she taught wasn't obedience. That would have been easier to get rid of as all children know. What she conveyed was the belief that all people have worth and value and that all people deserve some basic respect, even when they are mistaken or wrong in some ways. Now, I didn't get the whole lesson, but I got enough to find angry blogging quite hard on some days, and enough to make the current political games in this country tough to play.

But play them we must, and this is why: The wingnut dreams are our nightmares. Digby puts it well:

The Republicans and the Christian Right are leading America on a backward march into the Dark Ages --- and that is stepping on our dreams. As a culture, we have always been idealistic about progress and inspired by new discoveries to improve the lot of the human race. We're about invention and reinvention. It's one of our best qualities.

These people are telling us that those days are over. We have to depend upon brute force, superstition and ancient revelation. Science is dangerous. Art is frightening. Education must be strictly circumscribed so that children aren't exposed to ideas that might lead them astray.

It's a pinched, sour, ugly vision of America. For those who believe that their time on earth is all about waiting for The Bridegroom, perhaps that doesn't mean much. But for the rest of us, things like scientific breakthroughs or artistic achievement are inspirational, soaring emotional connections with our country and our fellow man. It makes us proud. The dark-ages conservatives want to take that away from us.

Anger and civility. Can they work together? We'll see, I guess.