Lies, Damned Lies, And…Worse

August 8th, 2002

Lies, Damned Lies, And…Worse

I’ve been thinking this morning about things that I’m sick and tired of. What they all seem to have in common is the fact that at their core, they’re all just basically lies. Whether blatant ones, sneaky ones, lies by omission or commission, I’m sick of all of them and I wish they’d just stop.

Of course, I’m perfectly aware that we all lie at one time or another. Whether it’s the harmless little business of calling in sick to work so you can go fishing, the equally banal but slightly more sinister one of telling your wife/significant other that you’re playing cards with “the boys” when what you’re really doing is stuffing dollars into G-strings with both hands while drinking five-dollar Budweisers at the local “Gentlemen’s Club,” or telling some telemarketer that no, the person responsible for making decisions about your phone service isn’t home right now (and won’t be back for weeks, I usually say, if I say anything at all and don’t just hang the phone right back up immediately upon realizing who it is on the other end of the line), we all do it sooner or later, and it’s not necessarily harmful each and every time.

But the ones that are bugging me are mostly way more insidious and even dangerous. And like I said, I’m sick of having them foisted off on me as truth.

For instance, on the less-serious end of the scale, I’m tired of hearing ghetto youths (or wannabe ghetto youths, usually) who lift music from other previously-recorded albums and recite profane limericks extolling the virtues of their dicks, of shooting other ghetto youths or cops, of abusing and disrespecting women, and other edifying pursuits with all the elegance and deep intellectual significance of your average nursery rhyme while some other ghetto youth scratches a phonographic needle across another record being described as “musicians.” Call it what you like, listen to and enjoy it if you must, but please stop referring to it as “music.” Making actual music usually involves the ability to play at least some rudimentary sort of musical instrument and ideally also involves a recognizable melody of some sort, although in the case of modern jazz it may not. Being a real musician requires training, practice, and at least a small smattering of talent. Rappers may be clever, they may be creative, they may be mapping uncharted territory when it comes to producing sounds that are set to some sort of rhythmic meter, but musicians they most assuredly are not. Any schlemiel walking down the sidewalk whistling “Mary Had A Little Lamb” is displaying more real musical ability than any rapper I’ve ever heard, and thanks to the power of modern auto stereos and the complete lack of regard for the sensibilities of others displayed by youths all over America, I’ve heard way more than I care to. Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong are musicians; Snoop Dog and Dr Dre are not.

An aside: it may seem hypocritical of me to decry “profane” rappers when I casually and regularly throw around more profanity myself than a sailor in port on payday, but it’s not. I have nothing whatsoever against profanity, obviously. I think it definitely has its uses, and I don’t think that someone who cusses is betraying his limited vocabulary for all to see, as my mom used to tell me. But unlike some music crits I’ve read, I ain’t gonna claim that saying naughty words is some new kind of “urban poetry,” all right?

I’m good and tired of all the people in this country who seem to be just fine with the notion that any and all proclamations issued from the UN do and in fact should supercede the authority of the US Constitution. Likewise, I’m tired of hearing that the opinion of the rest of the world should have a lot of significance when it comes to deciding what actions this nation may or may not undertake in the pursuit of its own interests. Other nations are perfectly free to respond to said actions in any way they deem necessary and appropriate, but they do not possess any sort of automatic veto over our own, nor should they. In many instances (if not most), the interests of Europe, Asia, the Arab states, etc. either do not coincide – or are in direct conflict – with our own. This is normal. But to say that we have some moral obligation to consider the interests of these nations when charting our own course is a bit like saying we shouldn’t mow our lawns because the snakes prefer the grass longer. Our government’s sole obligation is to us, the citizenry; our government’s duty is to put America’s interests first, period. I really can’t understand what’s so hard to grasp about this, and I damn sure don’t understand how there can be so many people – American citizens – who not only don’t seem to understand this idea but actually are vehemently opposed to it.

Somewhat along the same lines as the above, I am good and sick of representatives of our government having to listen to every lunatic pronouncement from governments representing nations whose entire culture seems to be based on a foundation of lies and never once call them on any of it. By that I mean having to go along with the Saudis, Egyptians, Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians, and the PA instead of just looking them dead in the eye and saying something along the lines of “you have got to be fucking kidding me.” Whenever they come up with some ridiculous line about their dedication to the “peace process,” their “concern” about what the latest Israeli “aggression” might do to said process, their willingness to join with us in the war on terror when they themselves are the ones sponsoring terrorism and have been for years, or the whole business of Islam being a “peaceful” religion, all diplomacy allows us to do in response is nod our heads sagely and express our gratitude for their wisdom and restraint. Just once, just freaking once, I’d like to see someone stand right up and say a simple “Oh, come on, Abdullah/Yasser/whoever. That horsepuckey might fly at the local mosque, but not here. We might have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night, okay? Jeez.” I recognize the necessity of dealing diplomatically with other nations who have armies of their own and all, but man, it’s frustrating sometimes not to be able to just simply call a spade a spade and a liar a liar.

I’m sick of hearing the American welfare state referred to as anything but what it is: a safety-valve, a Democrat vote-generator, and a mechanism by which a certain degree of urban stability is bought from people who are perfectly capable of working for a living but refuse to do so, and have been trained by their “leaders” to believe that white America is so filled with hate for them that they simply can’t make it on their own without the direct financial assistance of the federal government. Yes, I know that at any given time there are more rural whites on welfare than urban blacks, but if you look at the numbers the majority of people, white and black, who are on the welfare rolls are there for only a brief period. I’m not talking about them. Those are people who for whatever reason need some sort of temporary assistance until they can get back to work, and I’m all for giving them the help they need to do so. The people I’m talking about, and the people our aid system revolves around, are an undereducated, unassimilated, and often violent underclass created by the very system that claims to be there for their assistance. We have created entire generations of bitter, resentful people in our decaying urban centers whose preferred method of subsistence is the government check. Their bitterness and resentment is fueled by the lying pronouncements of people like Al Sharpton and others even worse and more vitriolic than he is, who broaden their own political power-base and fatten their own bank accounts by manipulating the emotions and misguided feelings of inferiority and hopelessness of these people. Yes, there are racists out there who would rather not hire a black man or live next to one. But believe it or not, in this age in this country they are in the minority, possibly for the first time in human history. Keeping the fires of phony racism burning helps no one but Sharpton and Democrat office-seekers; I’d be willing to bet that such demagoguery never helped even one person get off the system of federal bribery (“here’s some money; please don’t riot or loot”) we slyly refer to as “welfare.”

I’m sick of having people like Norm Mineta and Tom Ridge running a multiheaded hydra of a Homeland Security system that refuses to acknowledge the reality of who our enemies really are because of slavish obeisance to a wholly-discredited 60’s hangover known as “political correctness.” But the larger nauseated-fatigue-inducer here is this one: I’m sick of the lie that is the foundation of political correctness in the first place. This lie is one of the most insidious of all – the notion that certain realities of life need to be glossed-over and whitewashed for the consumption of people who are too fragile to deal with the world as it is; the idea that the world will become more like we wish it to be if we just get rid of certain words and substitute other, less “offensive” ones in their places; the idea that all people and cultures are essentially just alike and the world will be a better place if we refuse to acknowledge the reality of our differences – or worse yet, celebrate all cultures, no matter how backward, no matter how repressive or just plain invalid, as being the equals of our own. You will never convince me that a culture whose greatest achivements came over 500 years ago, that brutally oppresses women (and I have yet to see a pseudo-hippy college professor willing to face up to that one), that has a code of law that requires the hacking off of limbs or other inhuman punishments for minor offenses, and that has progressed not one iota since the Crusades is the moral or practical equal of our own. Likewise, I am not willing to concede that sub-Saharan tribal peoples whose principal musical achievement consists of blowing through a hollowed-out tree-limb or beating rhythmically on a big log and whose diet consists of bugs and, in some cases, dirt, are in any way to be considered on a par with the culture that produced Mozart, Beethoven, and tiramisu. I’ve said this before, by the way.

I’m sick of Democrats and Republicans alike standing up and declaring their true-blue patriotism and dedication to the Constitution and then turning right around and gutting the damned thing. Concomitantly, I’m sick of people in this country who are quite willing to see said Constitution flung down and danced upon if it means they’ll be a weensy bit safer in their daily lives or if it puts a few more dollars in their pockets, whether directly or through some government program or other. And I’m damned sick of flinging tax dollars at an education system that spends way too much time on promoting self-esteem without achievement, while not only failing to inculcate a basic understanding of this nation’s founding principles, but actually undermining them.

I’m sick of the lie that it’s worthwhile to continue fighting the utter failure that is the War On (Some) Drugs. I’m sick of mandatory-minimum sentences that lock up pot smokers in some states for life while your average rapist skates in seven years.

I’m sick of the mainstream media spouting endlessly about their “objectivity” when any remotely critical reading of their output clearly demonstrates the absolute falseness of that claim.

I could go on and on and on, but I’m sick of it already.

A caveat: re the rap thing. I just remembered something: years ago LL Cool J came out with a record called “Mama Said Knock You Out.” I happened to see his performance on Saturday Night Live (I think it was) in support of the new release and he came out with a full band – keyboards, percussion, the works. I have to say it was simply amazing – not a turntable in sight either. The musicians played with vicious intensity and it sounded like nothing I ever heard in my life. It was raw, energetic, loud, uncompromising, fresh, original, and completely brilliant. LL himself was pretty much just yelling throughout, but I have no problem with that at all; sometimes, and this was sure one of those times, nothing else will do. So for one shining moment anyway, LL Cool J at least was a by-God Musician in my book. Props to him.

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