In a contemporary weltanschauung that has pretty much abandoned temptation narratives, misanthropy still exercises an evil allure. You must resist. Misanthropy is a sin in the classic sense, in that it feels really good now but will make you feel bad later, and in the long run it will wreck your life. You cannot succumb to it, lest you start treating new people as crises instead of opportunities. Yet evidence for misanthropy’s central proposition is all around—I would say the United States contains about 300 million supporting arguments—and the internet documents it for us in lurid detail. It’s Friday, Missoula has gone from dazzling sun to 40-degree rain, and the temptation to regard everyone as crappy runs high. Like Christ on the temple roof, we must refuse. But also like C on the T-R, we are allowed to get really close. Won’t you maybe indulge just a little with me?
Over at Jezebel, where insightful and infuriating follow each other like the seconds and the second hand, Lindy West has compiled a guide to manifestations of contemporary white racism. I’m assuming that you, like me, now read the adjective “hipster” and hear the words “contemporary white” in your head. “Lindy West” is maybe the whitest name ever to appear over a discussion of racial semiotics, but I guess that observation is in itself racist. For every good point in her article—ersatz gang signs in Facebook photos are probably racist—West seems to make one conflating “racist” with “racial.” For example, she claims this tweet from Zooey Deschanel is racist. She also lards her essay with about 250 words of mindless sarcasm, but it’s worth it to get to item #4. Stuff White People Like did become Stuff Smart People Like, and really fast.
Also, contemporary culture really is racist; it’s just that instead of expecting individual people to conform to racial stereotypes, we now make broad racial generalizations based on that one race-person we know. Consider this man’s review of the Kama Sutra from LeastHelpful.com. In an assessment titled “related information,” he explains that an east Indian lady he knows heard about the book, rented the movie Kama Sutra, and then reported to him that Indians do not like sex. “Her thoughts on this subject has got me to wondering whether the author did any research regarding this and who he spoke to,” he writes. “I realize that my friend represents her race and to tell you the truth, even though I do not know many they all act the same…” He still gave the Kama Sutra three stars.
Meanwhile, Rep. Allen West (R–FL) is culturally precluded from being racist and must take recourse to being a regular asshole. After claiming that 80 House Democrats are communists, West has refused to name names. Not one. It’s a historically unprecedented move, but as the Colonel explains, he’s still basically telling the truth:
Communist, progressive, Marxist, statist…I’m looking at the ideologies, I’m looking at the things they believe in and if you don’t think that we have to stand upon truth and be able to identify and clearly contrast the different principles and values and ideologies…here in this country then we’re never going to get to the fact of accepting the true debate that is happening in America.
Please indulge me as I repeat what this United States congressman told Soledad O’Brien: if you don’t think we have to stand upon truth…here in this county then we’re never going to get to the fact of accepting the true debate that is happening in America. Seriously, dude: if you don’t agree that we have to base our debates on truth—for example, my claim that 20% of US Representatives whom I will not name are communists, and that communism is the same as progressivism and several other ideologies—in America, then America is never going to accept the fact of the true debate that is happening. In America.
Fuck you, Allen West, is what I’m saying here. Rex Huppke at the Chicago Tribune says it better with this obituary for facts, which stands as the sort of bitter satirical indictment that only a newspaper man can produce. “Facts is survived by two brothers, Rumor and Innuendo,” Huppke writes, “and a sister, Emphatic Assertion. Services are alleged to be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that mourners make a donation to their favorite super PAC.” It’s the sister and the “alleged” that make it, at least for me.
Don’t read this first part in a four-part Slate series on “the crisis in American walking.” Don’t encourage Slate. Instead, scroll down to the photo at the bottom of the page depicting a twelve year-old in Kentucky getting a ride to the bus stop with her house not far in the background. Better yet, look at it right here:
Props to Aaron Galbraith for the link. Also, why does that twelve-year-old girl look like a thirty-year-old office worker? Oh, right.
Fuck the humans, you guys. No! Help the humans. Appreciate the humans for what they offer, not what they lack. Remember all of which the humans are capable, via this song by True Bathing Culture that Micky sent me:
The cure for misanthropy is always Micky.