Friday, February 19, 2010

The Hobgoblin of Little Minds

Synchronicity, baby. I swear by the feathers of Quetzalcoatl, just yesterday I was trading emails with a dear, sweet friend, and I was assuring her in one of them that she hadn't missed anything at all by not subjecting herself to reading any of Ayn Rand's novels. At one point in the afternoon, though, I stopped my typing and looked up, a quizzical look upon my face.

I said to myself, I said: "Self? Did you hear something?"

"Maybe... I'm not sure. What did it sound like?"

"Well...sort of like the collective strangled gasp of thousands of frigid, heartless Randroid fanboys and fangirls finding a momentary release from hating everyone else in the world through a simultaneous orgasm, despite the ironic fact that the thought of doing anything collectively would have spoiled even that meager pleasure for them."

"Ah, yes, that was it. I was going to say it was just the neighbor's dog making noise again, but no, you're right."

I shrugged and returned to my correspondence. Later on, I finally got around to reading the news headlines and noted that a crazy dude in a plane had gone all kamikaze on an IRS building in Texas. Ohhh, that explained it. Hell, even a name like "Joe Stack" sounds like a Rand character; straightforward, firm and rugged! Do we have a rambling fuck-the-gummint stemwinder? You know it! So there you go, my dear, sweet friend. All we need is a rape scene somewhere in there, and you've got one of her novels playing out in real time. See what you're not missing?

I happen to be related to a few Randroids, so I've had ample opportunity to observe them in their native habitat. I was curious to see if they would, indeed, be all giddy with joy over this blow struck for freedom. So I solicited their reactions. Would they let puny obstacles like ideological consistency or fear of being called "terrorist sympathizers" stand in their way? Well, would John Galt have let that stop him? Of course not, you stupid, weak, girly-man commie. They were proud to claim this freedom fighter as one of their own (even as they claimed he was actually a leftist, trying to have their cake and smear it too).

I didn't bother trying to point out that "It's only terrorism when it's done by people we don't like for reasons we don't agree with" is not a very sturdy ethical foundation. I didn't ask if it was really only a few short years ago that simply calling the president a liar meant you were guilty of treason. I just promised to get my fellow bleeding hearts in the ACLU and Amnesty International to try and spring them from whatever secret prison camp they end up in under some hidden clause in the Patriot Act, and that I would send them Korans and pornography while they were there.

Eight and a half years and one Democratic president. That's all it took before I heard Republicans, newly infatuated with moral relativism, start shamelessly arguing that crashing planes into government buildings in the hope of killing civilians was a legitimate act of political protest. If it hadn't been so goddamned achingly predictable, it would be really funny.