Sunday, May 20, 2012


I received a missive from a long-time friend this afternoon. I've known that she's moved toward the Republican side for some time, asked her not to send me stuff a while ago, so this was something of a surprise.

It was pretty much incoherent, although the outrage was clear. Something about a crotch salute, which (I googled) has to do with the position of President Obama's hands in military circumstances. By the standards of the Right, Presidents (particularly this President) must do certain things at certain times, particularly saluting the flag, whether it is by the hand over heart or the pseudo-military handflick from head that President Bush enjoyed. I'm recalling that Mitt Romney failed in this gesture at least once, but I'm not outraged enough to google that.

I also won't google something I saw recently that said that this saluting thing (along with the flag pin on lapel is fairly recent, particularly the pseudo-military variety, which seems to go back only two presidents or so.

But OUTRAGE! NOT AN AMERICAN! (caps from the source)

It's that outrage that I'm wondering about. What function does it serve?

I'm in a listserv in which one of the members seems to need to provide an OUTRAGE first thing every morning. It may be that this is his substitute for, or supplement to, his morning caffeine. I'm one of those lucky people who don't seem to need caffeine or OUTRAGE in the morning. So I can just delete early-morning e-mails from that person. Much better.

Or another listserv on which this OUTRAGE was posted. To be fair, it wasn't posted with quite the same outrage as my other two examples. A touch of fear, though, it seemed to me.

It does seem that the authors of that one are outraged in a polite academic way or perhaps are trying to develop some outrage in their readers. So many illicit radiological incidents! (And let's throw the word smuggling in for emphasis!)

But a careful look at the list shows that many of the incidents are simply "reports", which probably mean nothing, or if they were something, may be replicated by real reports on the list. Others are of detectors set off by natural materials like granite and vermiculite. Not quite bomb material.

So are these authors dishonest or ignorant? And the reviewers and the editors and the people they work for...?

David Kaiser writes a worthy post once a week. This week's is on
dau tranh, or struggle, the philosophy behind the Vietnamese Communist revolution. Dau tranh, Pike explains, had two forms: military and political. Of the two, the political was far more important, and indeed, the Viet Cong always had several times as many active political workers as soldiers during the Vietnam War. Their mission was to rally their own troops and sow confusion among the enemy, doing whatever they could, in particular, to make the South Vietnamese government unable to function effectively.
He goes on to speculate that the Republicans are using dau tranh, have been using it for a decade or more.

It seems to me that far too much of this OUTRAGE is dau tranh. It confuses us and keeps us in a perpetual state of caffeine jitters. Kaiser thinks there may be no counter to it.

I wrote back to my friend in a friendly tone, suggesting that not everything one reads is to be believed, mentioned the lovely spring day and hoped that it was as beautiful where she is. I'm hoping that's part of a counter.

No comments: