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Stephen Gyllenhaal

Stephen Gyllenhaal

Posted: October 22, 2010 01:09 PM

Where Are We?

What's Your Reaction:

I was deep in a bad traffic jam last night, wondering how many of us nowadays just work too damn hard -- lemmings -- barely having time to breathe -- too much coffee -- that strange buzz that settles into one's head like a small, seemingly harmless hive of bees...

So I've barely been conscious of the news, while directing some TV shows and at the same time cutting my movie, Grassroots (go see the Grassroots website, if you have a moment, and you probably don't -- Grassrootsthefilm.com. I think the film is going to be quite good and joyfully political but it's been hard, hard, work, work, work -- or play, play, play, depending on how you want to look at it).

But no time to take in the news...

....for instance that Juan Williams was fired from NPR for saying on the Bill O'Reilly show that he found himself to be nervous when he got on a plane and saw someone dressed in Muslim (so-called) garb. So strange, the whole thing...

First, O'Reilly responded horrifically and is now redoubling his campaign to de-fund NPR. Terrific. He's an idiot as usual -- a perfect embodiment of the brutal Right Wing, out to destroy (ala all Right Wing movements) anything that doesn't go along with its way of life. But the Right Wing has ultimately been boring, except for its penchant to destroy nations, etcetera -- which is still boring given how many times its been done and the utterly predictable results. Nonetheless it's this aspect of the Right Wing that must be addressed when it rears its nasty head.

But for the moment it's the left wing idiots that are getting to me -- this Vivian Schiller, head of NPR, who took William's bait (if that's what it was) and fired him. But more to the point ... isn't it the Left Wing's inability to be emotional that needs to be addressed? Why can't liberals and progressives be just plain human and REAL in the face of what's going on around them?

I mean, I'll admit it, I get damned scared on a plane when I see what I've been programmed to believe might a terrorist. Why? Well, maybe because I'm not some intellectual machine that got dazzling scores on his/her's SATs (for example) so that I find myself unable to ("appropriately") push all my feelings, fears and strange associations away. I'm what you might call a normal human, this unpredictable and frail invention that is incredibly complex (perhaps infinitely so). I have been through a rough time re: airplanes and Muslims. Haven't we all, including many, many Muslims (think US bombers, etcetera in the Middle East)? Or just think what it's like to be a Muslim (if you're not a Muslim reading this piece right now) on the same plane?

Don't' we need to address all these fears openly?

For instance it wouldn't hurt for me to point out to myself (and perhaps to others) that a terrorist planning to blow up a plane (Muslim, Baptist, Catholic, Atheist, New Age art terrorist, whatever) would most likely try to look as middle of the road as possible. For instance he/she might want to dye his/her hair blond and wear a polo shirt (or dress). Come to think of it some of those that have wrecked our country most effectively in the past few years have been wearing just that kind of thing and have had blond hair and have been running banks and working on Wall Street and...

But I'm off point. What's the point?

That the Left Wing has for years been the party of the intellect, the so-called elite in our political process and with that (sadly) has seemingly emerged a disorienting lack of feeling. Clinton brought back some of that feeling, but then he used it on Monica Lewinsky because he didn't have a real handle either, despite (or perhaps because of) his intellectual acumen -- Oxford, etcetera). All those down to earth feelings tangled him up and pretty much sent him down in flames. But not before he threw in with the rich, hungry, ambitious and unfeeling as has Obama, a man who prides himself on his exacting intellectual prowess.

But what's my point?

I guess Chris Hedges has made the point wonderfully in his new book, Death of the Liberal Class -- the point that liberals and progressives used to be the aspect of the political process that protected those that couldn't protect themselves -- for instance, the fight for Civil Rights. The blacks did most of the work, but it didn't hurt that there were some influential white folks that joined in. And on this and other social issues there were the Roosevelts, Kennedys, Johnsons, etcetera...

So there was a time, then, when liberals and liberal leaders had feelings, wasn't there? Even just a few years back, didn't they seem capable of sensing how horrific life could be for those who had lost jobs, hope, dreams, even lives in the various wars they had helped put together? And didn't some of these men (and almost no women, back then) enact real legislation, speaking out, getting elected, unelected, fighting, railing, raging against the powerful forces that so hunger to pluck, plunder, mock and destroy anything that gets in the way?

Where are those people now (imperfect as they were)?

Are they working too hard, caught in traffic, drinking coffee, albeit nowadays good coffee -- cappuccinos, lattes, espressos, macchiatos...

Where are they?

Where are we?

 
 
 

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