The day that Lewis Hamilton won the world Formula One Driver's Championship last year, something else was brewing in the minds of many Americans that cast them far from that celebration. I must confess as I write this sentence I'm going to have to research exactly what that other maddening event was, because it wasn't so important to me. But before I do, let me remind you that among the many famous people I have admired and met, Mae Jemison was one, a black American astronaut. I confess, that as a young man, I was very attracted to black American overachievers, especially astronauts.
The event that captured many American minds and caused them sorrow was the announcement, somehow made more significant to their eyes by the time of day it was announced, about a legal decision surrounding the mess in Ferguson, MO. The date was, more or less, November 25. So I wrote this blog post which goes on to some length to illustrate the diversity of black America itself, if I am qualified to say so, with regards to the people they take as significant in their worlds.
Today happens to be another such day, when the significance of tragedy reported by the news has turned smiles upside down in a host of American minds. Meanwhile, today was my daughter's high school graduation.
If Facebook is to be counted as something, I have been excommunicated today from someone I've known from a long time ago, over something that happened in the news. It's sad. It's personal. It's done. That had to do with misinterpretation, or perhaps direct and proper interpretation of my relative indifference to the political implication and potential of some tragedy. I told a 'teachable moment' to take a hike. Coincidentally, while defending another friend (on Facebook) the combination of circumstances became intolerable. Imagine me having a birthday party and celebrating with a chocolate cake and a story hits the news about 1200 people starving to death or dying in food riots in Egypt. But, while nobody has said so directly (and who has time to write anything to me when defriending says it all?) this has something to do with my celebrating my 2nd Amendment rights and a shooting in Charleston, SC. The two are related because I'm a black man and I'm supposed, to be making some points about that, and not this. This being my life: my life, my celebrations and my preferences.
I'm trying to determine exactly how problematic this is. I can't say at the moment. But it does raise a point I'd like to write about briefly.
One of the interesting phenomena I observe in stepping outside of political partisanship and the competition over narratives of progress and devolution is the extent to which partisans feel moral certainty. I may be making a category error in my own personal case, but I'm fairly convinced that partisans on the Left and Right feel quite satisfied that they are locked in a struggle for the moral soul of the nation. There's a joke in there about the materiality of a soul which is something akin to the old joke about Jews and copper wire. The soul of America is being stretched to ridiculous proportions in a tug of war between political partisans. What's altogether sad is that it's a very two dimensional battle fought over very particularly narrow issues, all fueled by a shallow media.
That's essentially all there is to say about it. Americans try to make their politics moral and the make spectacles out of themselves instead. What could be more illustrative than the backgrounds of Presidential candidates like Trump and Fiorina?
One of the illuminating consequences of pursuit and capture of autodidactic liberal arts education is that one becomes one of the goal oriented folks illustrated by Pournelle's Iron Law. One wants human enlightenment as a goal without regard to the institutions said to mediate that implementation as contrasted to those sword to defend the bureaucracy and marching orders of institutions themselves. I see the 'morality media' giving the chatting classes talking points of the day: to lament the loss of life in Charleston. There's a bit of spillover from the prior meme concerning the chances one arrested by police in America will make it alive to trial. The white suspect did, presumably by this narrative of protest, a black suspect would not. I have no opinion but that of common sense. Murder is murder. The death penalty applies. Let justice be served. Those are the goals. Everything else is just political talk in service of a Left or Right Agenda. I got no time for that.
I read in a book that 'American culture' is oxymoronic. I'm starting to believe it. Our politics are very cheaply value laden and our social sophistication is too thin to keep it in check. I wish it were otherwise but that would be wishful thinking. I'll deal with the reality instead and find my only comfort in avoiding the madness.
I have compelling reasons to celebrate today, and no compelling reason to consume the narrative of loss, tinged as it might be today with racial and Second Amendment overtones, implications, insinuations etc. I have the benefit of being able to talk straight about this on my blog. Not that I expect many Facebookers to check out all of the words. That too is OK. I'm comfortable. This is where I speak my full mind. It's too bad Facebook has more mindshare than the blogosphere. It has become the television of the age.