31. December 2006 · Comments Off on The Year of Living Dangerously · Categories: General, Media Matters Not, Pajama Game, War

If the personal stuff is anything to go by, then 2006 was the year of living dangerously. It’s the year when both my daughter and I cheerfully said “the hell” to what we had been doing for a while, and resolved to pursue what we really wanted. Blondie plunged into college (funded by the GI Bill, and a small VA disability payment), and I exited full-time employment in the pink-collar ghetto with a cheerful face and almost indecent haste. No, really, I think I was given a healthy shove just as I was nerving myself up to jump. Life is too short to spend it looking at the clock and wishing for the work day to end so you can get to the stuff you really want to be doing.

But I look ahead to 2007 with a vague yet unshakeable feeling of dread. I have the feeling that things are happening faster and faster; and that they are well beyond anyone’s ability to control. There have been… is the word “portents” too heavy? Baleful, maybe; like one of those Technicolor Texas sunrises; all purple clouds edged with gold and the sun rising blood-red in smear of pink sky. One thinks of that kind of sunrise as a herald, a red sky as a warning of storms.

The execution of Saddam Hussein is just the most recent of these events; did it not seem to happen very suddenly? The various trials looked to be one of those continuing circuses that would drag on for decades. Saddam would grow fat and old, and his lawyers would quibble, delay and appeal for stays, and he would eventually die of something prosaic like a heart attack, long after anyone ceased to care, except for the last few toothless protest ‘tards waving signs in front of the last few McDonalds’ in Europe. Instead… short walk and a swift drop, thank you very much.

Iran with nukes, and a charismatic leader with apocalyptic visions… and a hard-on for Jew-killing. Not a reassuring combination, all things considered. Consider also that this doesn’t seem to bother the usual UN and Euro protest ‘tards who have a conniption every time an American administration sneezes. The possibility of a mushroom cloud blossoming over Tel Aviv, or Marsailles, or Rome doesn’t seem to keep much more than a handful of us awake at night… Eh, it won’t be a US nuke, so what? They’re the only ones that really matter, apparently.

Even more dispiriting than the possibility of Iran using nuclear materiel for un-peaceful purposes, (which admittedly is only a possibility) is the challenge which has already been conceded, yielded up and surrendered by our mainstream press and so-called intellectual elites. Contemplate how easily and how consistently the flow of AP and Reuters news releases, video and still photography from Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority were slanted by partisan interests. Now there is a dagger in the heart of any pretense at impartiality. Rathergate and See-BS 60 Minutes might have been a one-off, and I’ve been able to avoid watching TV news magazines for years, but AP and Reuters releases are at the heart of local newspapers everywhere, especially those who can’t afford to send a reporter much beyond city limits.

The affair of the Danish Mohammad Cartoons depresses me even more, every time I think on it. For me it is a toss-up which of these qualities is more essential, more central to western society: intellectual openness to discussion and freewheeling criticism of any particular orthodoxy, the separation of civil and religious authority, and the presence of a robust and independent press. The cravenness of most of our legacy media in not publishing or broadcasting the Dread Cartoons o’ Doom still takes my breath away.

They have preened themselves for years on how brave they are, courageous in smiting the dread McCarthy Beast, ending the Horrid Vietnam Quagmire and bringing down the Loathsome Nixon… but a dozen relatively tame cartoons. Oh, dear… we must be sensitive to the delicate religious sensibilities of Moslems. Never mind about all that bold and fearless smiting with the pen, and upholding the right of the people to know, we mustn’t hurt the feelings of people who might blow up the Press Club*. The alacrity with which basic principals were given up by the legacy press in the face of quite real threats does not inspire me with confidence that other institutions will be any more stalwart.

Interesting times, interesting times… as that Chinese curse has it. It would make a great book, though… assuming that we survive it all. A then-obscure poem quoted in a New Years Day broadcast, sixty-eight years ago has a an odd resonance for me this year:

“I said to a man who stood at the gate of the year: ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown,’ and he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than a light and safer than a known way.”

(M.L. Harkins, 1875-1957, quoted by King George VI, 1 January 1940)

(BTW, The new book is shaping up nicely, with practically operatic levels of drama, murder, vengeance, betrayal and stolen children. The proposal for the novel about the Stephens Party is going to be presented by a writer friend of mine to his publisher, so keep fingers crossed on that one!)

* Meaning the MSM, legacy media, lamestream media… which as a national institution seems to be imploding of its’ own weight

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