Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Pledge man

Jeff Jarvis is asking us to take the following pledge:

After the election results are in, I promise to:
: Support the President, even if I didn't vote for him.
: Criticize the President, even if I did vote for him.
: Uphold standards of civilized discourse in blogs and in media while pushing both to be better.
: Unite as a nation, putting country over party, even as we work together to make America better.

Let me say clearly, no fucking way.

I value Mr. Jarvis's point about upholding standards of civilized discourse. There is much more to be gained from reasoned debate than from ranting, but leave me my moments where I need to rant. I am not interested in smearing people's character--just their arguments, just their unjust decisions. Just the moves they make that take power from the already pretty much powerless. Or the "accidental" destruction of people and shrines and historical treasures in the name of abstract ideals we all believe we believe in.

Sure, we all want to heal. But you know what? Sometimes you just can't. Sometimes you have to acknowledge that people you believe to be self-serving, ill-motivated, power-hungry (and power-full!) are calling the shots. And that millions of ill-informed people, swayed by their inability to analyze and criticize the marketing that is jammed down their throats, have asked these people in charge, "Will you please call the shots?"

I refuse to say, that because I share a "nation" with these people calling the shots, and the people asking them to do so, that in any way "we are one." We are not one. It is one of the great myths of nations that they are unified, composed of people who are pretty much the same. This is the worst kind of nationalism--the kind that leads to the worst sort of atrocities.

Having spent the last few months pulling for a party I don't fully believe in, because I do profoundly hope that this party could come up with better answers than the party calling the shots, I am not willing to pledge, now or ever, to fully compromise what I believe in so that I can sit back and say, "Ahhhhhh. Fuck the terrorists."

Jeff Jarvis further notes the following:

: UPDATE: Commenters ask me what I mean by "support." Right question. I do not mean blind support, love-it-or-leave-it support, with-him-or-against-him support. I mean acknowledging that the president is the president and especially in a time of war, we need to stand together against our enemies -- namely, Islamofascist terrorists -- and not act, as too many have during this administration (and the one before it) that the enemy is in the White House. No, we're on the same side.

Save me from "in this time of war." In this time of war, please match your step to the other steps. In this time of war, please remember whose side you must be on. In this time of war, don't speak too loudly unless you're cheering USA! USA! In this time of war, let us tell you what you do and don't get to do with your body. In this time of war, let us remind you that gay teachers have no place in the public schools, that mammograms need not be a part of health care. In this time of war we must come up with short-sighted energy policies and so destroy what remaining wilderness we have in this country.

No, Jeff Jarvis, we are not on the same side. Sure, there are Islamists who want to kill people in order to get the USA away from Israel and out of Muslim countries. Are they more fascist than the Bush administration? Must we limit our enemy to those fascists who are of a different faith?

bkMarcus has a very good set of definitions on his website. Here is how he defines fascism. The first part is by him, and the second from Wikipedia:


An authoritarian form of statism that advocates
* private property
* State-centralized economy
* militarism
* nationalism

(Notice that between the first 2 criteria, fascism promotes political capitalism without any pretense of a free market.)

Socialists and left-liberals often refer to any form of fervent conservatism as fascism, but they are incorrect in doing so.

Many people use the term to refer to any form of authoritarianism. This usage is less incorrect, but strictly speaking, fascism requires all 4 of the above criteria.


Fascism (in Italian, fascismo), capitalized, refers to the authoritarian political movement which ruled Italy in 1922-1943 under the leadership of Benito Mussolini. The name comes from fascio, which may mean "bundle", as in a political group, but also fasces, the Roman authority symbol of a bundle of rods and axe-head.

The word fascism has come to mean any system of government resembling Mussolini's, that exalts nation and often race above the individual and uses violence and modern techniques of propaganda and censorship to forcibly suppress political opposition, engages in severe economic and social regimentation, and espouses violent nationalism and racism (ethnic nationalism).

--Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Having taken bk's warning that many socialists and left liberals "often refer to any form of fervent conservatism as fascism, but they are incorrect in doing so," I think we can note that the above definitions work well in our current situation.

Even Doonesbury thought so: he added the fascio! (Check out the strips from 17 March 2003 through April 2003--or even the fab Roman wear that Bush still wears today.)

But I have gotten off task.

My point is that I refuse to sign any pledge declaring that, for some fake sense of unity with people with whom I would rather continue to argue, I will support something in which I do not believe.

This past summer, a friend I was traveling with in Rome noted that it was always "the Pledge woman"--the (it being Italy) woman toting the cleaning supplies--who denied you access to the parts of churches with beautiful mosaics.

I will not let this Pledge man keep me from speaking my views.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You wanna know what makes me furious? Having my radio alarm, set to NPR, wake me up at 6 a.m. with the announcer saying, "Many Americans are saying that their concerns over 'moral issues' influenced their vote."

That makes me so angry that I can't see straight, much less study for the exam I have in an hour.45. At seminary. Where I am a left-wing/bleeding heart/progressive/liberal and so are most of my peers. And yet, apparently we are immoral -- or at least our political beliefs are. Why do people equate morality with pious and empty words rather than actions? Why can't people see through this? We have to live through four more years of watching everything we believe in get destroyed because of this!

I don't know what to do with this rage! Oh, I know, turn it into incentive to work for change. And I will. But that won't help me on my Old Testament midterm.

Thank you for being furious, Fury. Be furious for me for awhile too.