Thursday, April 10, 2008

I AM A REACTIONARY. One reason I enjoy covering Rod Dreher is that he rekindles my love for America. We are surrounded by conservatives who insist that they love America, and describe it as a horrible place where the unfortunate deserve only the back of the hand of power, which must be maintained by endless wars. After a bellyful of their patriotism I sometimes begin to doubt my own. Maybe they're right, I begin to think: maybe the ugly America they celebrate is the real America, and I have only deluded myself that it was something better.

But when brother Rod denounces the West, as he is increasingly prone to do, my defensive reaction troubles me less. Because while I would agree with him, and his sources, that there are many things wrong with this country, his judgment of general rottenness on our way of life so offends me that I turn into a regular Yankee Doodle Dandy. When he says "[Patrick] Deneen raises the possibility that events -- economic, especially -- will do more to enhance traditionalist conservatism's prospects with the public than anything else," and I realize he is praying for catastrophe to befall us so that we will all come running to Jesus and the Old Ways for protection, I feel the sort of things that liberals of old must have felt when student radicals threatened to burn the motherfucker down: this is still my country, and if we are ridiculous about a number of things, I will certainly side with it against the likes of you.

Dreher does the trick for me better than a gibbering Islamic radical any day. The Islamist in most cases is only amplifying an ancient grudge exacerbated by bad treatment and a lack of video games and pornography that might divert and winnow his rage: Dreher enjoys the privileges and grass-fed beef of a great nation, and still judges it damned, the fucking hippie.

I get a similar, America-loving rush from some of The Anchoress' spasms. She begins a recent post with traditional laments about the liberal media, but soon escalates, with extensive self-quotation, to talk of a "painless coup" that has already made a hellhole of the Land of the Free: not only has it corrupted the noble rustics "Aunt Sally" and "Uncle Jim" into accepting abortion and tits 'n' swears on the TV -- it has actually made "our beautiful churches into bare concrete monstrosities (ready-made for quick-conversion into temples to secular reason)..."

She goes on thereafter about Liberty and Truth and the American President, but my mind yet dazzles that she doesn't just think we've picked the wrong leaders -- she believes some demonic force has possessed us, one that not only dirties popular entertainment and allows wrongful social policy but has actually twisted the minds of her co-religionists to build ugly, idolatrous temples. She doesn't just think the political tug-of-war has lately failed to go her way -- she thinks America is depraved. And when she comes to her prescription...
I don’t have a good feeling. I think we really have to get our free - and by free I mean unencumbered and disenthralled - press back. And soon.
...I get the queasy feeling that she isn't talking about electing McCain, or a slate of Republicans, or even pushing the kind of draconian legislation that usually emanates from the snake-handler wing of that party. She wants to drive out the demons. And who knows how far she would be willing to go to accomplish this sacred task?

Heaven knows I get mad about what's going on in this country, and often treat its leaders, opinion or otherwise, and even its citizens with raw contempt. So I'm thankful that Dreher and The Anchoress are around to set me straight. The American people are often ridiculous and sometimes do horrible things, and I have turned my wrath on a broad array of our native fixers, crackers, dupes, dopes, and scumbags. But they are still my people. I too want more than I could possibly deserve, chafe at well-meant and even reasonable restrictions, and prefer a good time to a Great Awakening. And in the last ditch I'll take my stand with our credit-, pleasure-, and freedom-addicted folk against our would-be saviors.

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