The country is reaching critical mass and even if you were not a witness to Rosie O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck's near cat fight on national television, you likely have noticed a palpable national nervous breakdown building all around you. I don't mean the rabid hate and death threats issuing out of the right wing circus and its bigots of patriotism or the pundits of malevolence who get paid to spew forth venom on Fox.
No, sadly that rhetoric is the normal condition of bitter, self-hating, and corrupt mental midgets striving for attention in a world where they can no longer disguise themselves in bed sheets and declare themselves to be the superior race. While O'Donnell and Hasselbeck had a tiff, to be sure, it was Fox guest Curtis Sliwa who actually threatened violence, openly and on national television expressing his wish to take a baseball bat to O'Donnell and beat her like a "human piñata."
Obviously such misogyny is normal for men of little intellect and commonplace among the Fox propagandists. But it is not what these lunatics say that is at issue; rather, it is how the country reacts or does not react that is of concern.
Historically, the normal reaction of the civilized world towards these ethically vacant kooks has been to cast them to the periphery of society, from which their deranged and violent world view can do little harm.
After all, hate unchecked but so carefully publicized was one of the major contributors to the rise of Nazis. No, the normal reaction of even a mildly ethical society would be to make someone like Sliwa an outcast among decent people, and certainly to keep him at a distance from the female citizenry. One has to wonder if he beats his wife or girlfriend when she gets a bit too mouthy. In our culture, however, with its politics of hate, such rhetoric is treated as normal Worse still; there is no reaction from a society which claims to have "values" and the ear of "God."
But our national nightmare and our soon to be national nervous breakdown are far beyond the prevailing normalcy of the culture of hate and the almost open-armed acceptance of it by uber-nationalists and sane people alike. We have entered a whole other stage of panic and fury, one in which our pompous President actually threatens a journalist's children on television in a sort of wink-wink mob-like suggestion that one might find coming out of the mouth of Tony Soprano:
Or take the meltdown by House Republican leader John Boehner over the Iraq appropriations bill that seemed so bizarrely unrelated to the topic at hand:
"I didn't come here to be a Congressman. I came here to do something," Representative John Boehner said. "And I think at the top of our list is providing for the safety and security of the American people. That's at the top of our list. After 3,000 of our fellow citizens died at the hands of these terrorists, when are we going to stand up and take them on? When are we going to defeat them? Ladies and gentlemen, if we don't do it now, if we don't have the courage to defeat the enemy, we will long, long regret it"
Leaving aside the absurdity of this statement in which the war in Iraq is falsely implicated in the attacks of September 11, what prompted a grown man - always tanned and composed - to suddenly cry like a child on the House floor? Surely he knows that the war in Iraq has nothing to do with the attack of September 11? Surely he must know that it is, in fact, precisely the war in Iraq that has taken our national focus away from those who have attacked us? And surely he knows that he has managed to omit yet another 3,000+ Americans and over 600,000 Iraqis who have died at the hands of a corrupt and dishonest administration? Yet he cried, shaking to contain himself, and delivered this torrent of nonsense on national television. Why? Is it guilt over the lies coming out of his mouth? Is it panic at the thought that no matter what he does, Dick Cheney will have his war anyway?
From all angles, there is a real and palpable feeling that the nation is in near panic over the corruption and dictatorial flavoring this country is being smothered in. And even the leaders of this corrupt stew are feeling something in the air.
While the President is reigning as the bully-in-chief and in desperation threatening a reporter's children, and Boehner is sobbing while stating lies as a matter of fact, and grown men have resorted to threatening to beat to death a celebrity on national television, even the nation's aristocracy is not immune and is falling apart at the seams.
All Prevailing Fear
From my own direct experience, even the genteel class is splitting at the seams. I recently attended a high school reunion for a school I did not attend (nor could ever afford) as a guest of one of the graduates. The school in question was St. George's and the moneyed Americans present there were a mix of Republicans and Democrats, from varying degrees of wealth, yet all could be easily described as blue-blooded to the bone. Although I attended as the date of one of the privileged, the writer in me could not resist the opportunity to observe the nation's nobility mingling in their element and note their conversations when they believed themselves to be insulated from an outsider such as myself.
Obviously in genteel circles I would be considered nothing short of a bad mannered, eavesdropped, intruder. I do not mean to imply that I was treated rudely, because I was not. Nor do I mean to imply that everyone with whom I spoke was snobbish and bad tempered, because they were not. But the general feeling I had was that this world was not one I could ever understand or socialize in regularly.
More importantly, this coterie of the privileged provided me with an understanding of just how near collapse the national soul is. Because when even that 1% whom the rest of us - mortals - have generally blamed for the nation's ills is as frightened and worried as we are, then something of a critical mass, a ballooning crisis is near.
The people I met at this event were horror stricken by the direction of where this country is heading and mortified by the abuses of power. There was anger and near panic in their voices when our conversations would wander into politics and the war in Iraq or the attacks of September 11. They are as frightened and worried as the rest of us, angry beyond words, and finding themselves embarrassed by the vehemence of their anger.
The Republicans with whom I spoke that evening proudly identified themselves as such, but passionately defended their party from what one of them called the "jackals" who are in the White House and Congress.
Yes, there is a sense that an all pervasive concoction of violent hate, desperation, fear and massive hysteria is nearly ready to explode across the nation. No one knows what to do or how to respond beyond their most base emotions, and hope seems to be a mirage built on commercials of cotton candy safety provided by Big Brother. People are falling apart, lashing out, and doing it no matter what their level of income or political leaning.
Journalists are outraged too and cannot fathom what more they can report to a seemingly irrelevant Congress and a quietly desperate nation.
The nation is tumbling toward pandemonium with each scandal and each lack of response from the other branches of government. With each outrage and abuse of power, more and more quiet disillusionment is turning into chaotic emoting.
Do you feel this as acutely as I do? Perhaps not, but I have the benefit of my own experience, living in a country of jackals who found themselves amidst a seething nation far too long abused, frightened, and angry. When the Soviet Union finally fell, it did not fall peacefully; and worse, it fell into chaos and into the hands of criminals. But it was still the oppressive regime that fell and the good guys - that is, us - who won the Cold War. What happens when the good guys fall, imploding under the weight of mass corruption and a populace teetering near deranged anger? Does it matter that Rosie and Elizabeth had a spat, when the rest of the nation is barely keeping a grip on its sanity, trying to cope in a fabricated reality in which 2 + 2 = whatever we are told?
What is next, then, in this land of mass media produced fuel for a fire that is already raging strongly in our national conscience? I am unsettled and fretting, because I have been here before and the smell of it frightens me... the smell of the desperations of those in power and the smell of "enough" from the powerless.