Friday, September 11, 2009

Brian McLaren Wonders, it Seems

Brian McLaren's life and work scarcely merits a response. This piece certainly doesn't. He's getting one anyway. Happy Ramadan, Brian. This one's for you.

A Plea for a New Generation of Republican Leadership
by Brian McLaren 09-08-2009


One that agrees with Brian McLaren, preferably.

I believe our nation works best with robust and civic dialogue and civil debate.

Keep this in mind as you read the rest this. McLaren confuses veiled insult for civility, and verbosity for robustness.

For mature societal conversations to take place, at least two mature parties are required, and looking back over this summer, a second party is hard to find.


Memo to Brian McLaren. I will debate you any time, any place. You name it, I will be there, civil to the nines. I won't even cuss. Pretty sure guys like Doug Wilson would take you up on that offer two, but that would be like a canary running into a buzz-saw. I shutter to imagine how you'd do against Thomas Sowell or Ben Stein or Newt Gingrich or...

But people who shout “Hitler, Nazi, socialist” don’t constitute a worthy loyal opposition.

They did when they were opposing Bush. But that went down the old Po-Mo memory hole, didn't it?

Nor do the birthers (who don’t stray too far from the fictional portrait of the afterbirthers described satirically here).

McLaren builds his case by citing The Onion.

Nor do the nostalgics, who seem to keep waking up in the 1980s year after year, quoting Ronald Reagan.

These people do not exist.

[Regarding the nostaligics, one can't help but recall God's words to Joshua (Joshua 1:2): "Moses my servant is dead."

At which point the Jews forgot all about Moses.

Many Republicans, it seems,

People who couch their accusations behind the phrase "it seems" are cowards. McLaren can't write 200 words without doing so.

are like Joshua and need to be told it's time to move on and discover their own voice,

Actually, Joshua was told to obey the law God gave him. McLaren is employing spectacularly poor analogy here.

to think their own thoughts, to face today's challenges, to start leading constructively and not just repeating old slogans

We need new slogans. EVERYTHING MUST CHANGE! YES WE CAN!

-- always revering the memory of their late-20th-century Moses,

In McLaren's world, Moses is merely a historical footnote.

of course, but moving on to face today's problems just as their oft-sung hero sought to face those of his day.]

This is just embarrassing.

It seemed hard for the situation to deteriorate below gun-toting protestors at town hall meetings and Hitler-mustached posters, but we managed to hit a new even-lower low in recent days in the refusal of some parents and school districts to allow schoolchildren to listen to the presidential back-to-school address.

And McLaren finally gets to the talking points.

Journalist-author Thomas Friedman had it right on “Meet the Press” Sunday, as did Education Secretary Ame Duncan on “Face the Nation”: that reaction is just plain “stupid” and “silly.”

So, McLaren, in the midst of all his wondering and thinking and book promoting, is fumbling for exactly the right words to describe the reaction, when he turns on his TV to find journalist-author Thomas Friedman saying it's "stupid", and has an "a ha!" moment. In other words, all these quotes really do is say "two journalists agree with me."

How many Republican leaders will stand with them?

McLaren asks questions that only Google can answer. (The answer? Pretty much all of them.)

Where does this bizarre behavior come from?

That weird curriculum guide his administration cooked up. Remember? It was in the news.

True, there’s a strain of extremism that runs through American politics on the left and right, and the Internet, late-night radio, and cable TV help keep it alive.

A salient point. McLaren here is calling for both sides to engage in constructive dialogue, and move beyond the heated rhetoric of the shot show format, I'm glad we're on the same...

But there’s more to this, I think. I’m convinced that there is some degree of white fear and resentment behind at least some of this reaction: fear and resentment of an African-American president,

Oh, for !!@#'$ sake.

mingled with xenophobia regarding brown-skinned immigrants, undergirded by fear of a future where there is no more racial majority status for white people.

He thinks this is the case. He'll let you know when he's done the research to verify this. At that point, he will actually substantiate this irresponsible charge.

There is also, I suspect, a good amount of modernist fear of postmodernity mixed in.


McLaren suspects this. In reality, this is on nobody's radar screen. At all.

And where Christianity becomes a tribal religion rather than a reconciling faith — the exclusive and combative religion of rural non-coastal folks, for example, or Southern folks, or socially conservative folks, or folks who hold a certain economic ideology — there is probably some old-fashioned religious supremacy at play too: the “Our God is better than your god, so we should be in power” syndrome.

There's probably some of that, it seems, McLaren thinks, maybe.

I keep wondering

Right, he's also wondering. Aloud. In blog form. Just havin' a think, where everyone can read it and he can influence opinion.

— don’t more Republicans themselves see the danger of an increasingly reactionary Republican party becoming in the 21st century what anti-civil-rights/pro-segregationists and McCarthyites were in the 20th,


Not really, no. Reason: We don't oppose civil rights, don't support segregation, and don't support alcoholic commie witch hunters (who also happen to be liberals).

or what the pro-slavery/anti-abolition movements were in the 19th — conserving an unjust status quo that deserved to be left behind?

McLaren has substituted "conserving" for "preserving", a rhetorical reference to conservatism. That's clever, Brian. I see what you did there.

Out of love for their party

If Brian actually knew any conservatives, which, considering he said he hadn't met anyone who voted for McCain, is unlikely, he would know that conservatives do not act "out of love for their party". The insinuation is insulting and condescending.

Just in case you are wondering why I have no respect for this dude...

and the good things it could potentially stand for in 2012 and beyond, don’t they want to step forward now and be counted?

I think the party can do plenty of good. Nobody has demonstrated to me why I should support the liberal agenda McLaren supports. I have no evidence that McLaren understands the Democratic party platform beyond its rudiments and talking points. If he did, he wouldn't have to resort to calling me a racist, I think, it would seem, probably.

Even if all President Obama stands for were as dastardly as the shouters, birthers, and nostalgics insinuate, can’t some perceptive Republicans see the need to do what President Obama did to win the election

This is a strange argument. McLaren is suggesting that, even if Obama is a fascist, we should support him because he needed to inspire hope in order to win the election. This is exactly the sort of argument, coming from the left, that terrifies the right.

Fear is indeed a powerful short-term motivator (and fundraiser),

Obama shattered fundraising records.

as is revenge, but it uses an inflating currency (and where do you go after flashing the Hitler/Nazi/fascist credit card?).

This is a ham-handed and unnecessary analogy. The inherent problem with evoking Hitler to caricature the opposition has been demonstrated much more succinctly, and even has a name, reductio ad Hitlerum.


An unregulated fear-based politics will eventually crash just as an unregulated bubble-based economy will, but like a crashing economy, it can cause a huge amount of damage on its way down.


Um, what?

Thankfully, George Will

Here is what Dailykos, one of the blogs McLaren considers to contribute to robust dialogue, has to say about George Will.

"George Will is a scumbag... The chief outstanding question in my head is as follows: Where the flying FUCK have you been, George "The 'F' Stands For Fucker" Will?"

That's pretty racist, if you ask me.



Perhaps people like Will and Peggy Noonan


Noonan? Per Dailykos, the "bitch" who escaped from the nuthouse.

represent the rise of a constructive conversation partner in the civic conversation. But they’re writers; where are the politicians?

Not referenced in the Democratic press releases your interns read to you. Does Brian McLaren honestly think the John McCain isn't even a constructive conversation partner? Really?

Because if the best leaders the Republicans can offer the nation and the world in the next decade are the likes of … well, I won’t mention names …

I am not a fan of the "I won't mention names" rhetorical device. It's hackneyed. It adds nothing to the content of the piece. Also, he is referring to Sarah Palin, so why not just say it?

I believe, hope, and pray that Republicans can do better for their party, for America as a whole, and for the world.

We don't care what you think, Brian. It seems you are an ignorant shill who continues to whore his faith for the Democratic party. You're also a terrible writer. Probably.

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