Sunday, February 2, 2020

It's All Over But the Whining

This post is not about impeachment. You can breathe a sigh of relief. It was inspired by John Hinderaker’s title to a recent post about impeachment: “It’s all over but the whining.” (via Maggie's Farm).

Yes, indeed, the American left, once liberal and progressive, has turned into a gaggle of pathetic whiners, like big babies who cannot accept not getting their way. 

After all, as noted here, the first rule of democratic decorum is to accept the results of a fair election. Led by the increasingly useless Hillary Clinton, the American Democratic Party has never been able to accept the election. Now, Congressional Democrats, stun by the inevitability of their loss in the Senate are whining about how the proceedings were not fair. If they do not win, they whine. 

Hinderaker wrote:

As the final vote approaches, we are reminded that the president’s acquittal in the Senate was always a foregone conclusion. It has never been clear how the Democrats will avoid looking silly when their scheme inevitably falls far short. I think a plurality of voters already believe the whole impeachment process has been a waste of time, and that conclusion will only become stronger when it ends in failure.

In a coda to his piece, Hinderaker reports a fact little discussed:

Legislation has been introduced in Utah to permit recall of a sitting senator.

As promised, this post is not about impeachment. It’s about Brexit. Specifically, it’s about the extended whine offered by New York Times columnist Roger Cohen.

He entitled his column, “Requiem for a Dream” recalling a 2000 movie, bleak and sordid, starring Jennifer Connelly. The movie concerns happiness found and lost, so the parallel works at that level. But still, shouldn’t an adult like Cohen know better than to try to live in dreams. He should wake up and take a look at reality.

The column manifests a distinct failure of imagination. Cohen cannot imagine why British citizens voted to leave the European Union. He is whining because he cannot accept the simple fact that the British electorate did not do as he wanted them to do. And they did not do it twice, in a referendum and then in an election.

He knows best. He is an intellectual. He writes for the New York. Truth be told, and to put a finer point on it, no one, least not I, is saying that Brexit was necessarily the right thing to do. No one is saying that the majority is always right.

Yet, the majority deserves respect. It’s views should be considered, weighed and addressed. Cohen does none of the above. He knows that he is right and he knows that the majority of the British people are stupid rubes, know nothings, not deserving the least gesture of respect.

So, if you want to see a really good whine, I offer Roger Cohen:

I have covered many stories that marked me over the past 40 years, in war zones and outside them, but none that has affected me as personally as Britain’s exit from the European Union. Brexit Day, now upon us, feels like the end of hope, a moral collapse, a self-amputation that will make the country where I grew up poorer in every sense.

What it feels like to a chronic whiner is not the same as what is. The point is, he does not know what is coming over the horizon. He cannot see the future any better than you and I can. But to call it a moral collapse and a self-amputation is just plain ignorant.

Why is it a moral collapse to take back responsibility for one’s own country? Why is it the end of hope to assert one’s own moral agency, to refuse to ply one’s policies to the will of nameless and faceless Brussels bureaucrats? What is wrong with a reassertion of national pride?

Doesn't Cohen know that pride is the cure for despair? Apparently, he doesn't. He still thinks that hope is the cure for despair. He should have noticed that America has just undergone eight years of hope... and that despair only got worse.

He continues:

Poorer materially, of course, but above all poorer in its shriveled soul, divorced from its neighborhood, internally fractured, smaller, meaner, more insular, more alone, no longer a protagonist in the great miracle of the postwar years — Europe’s journey toward borderless peace and union. Britain, in a fit of deluded jingoism, has opted for littleness.

Come now, shriveled soul… more alone... isolated… smaller, weaker... delusional. He must have exhausted his Thesaurus.

But, the defamatory terms all manifest an absolute certainty that he knows best and that he judges the British nation as weak and ultimately pathetic. By his dim lights, asserting independence is a sign of weakness and jumping off of the hope bandwagon is a bad thing. In truth, the British nation has taken back its pride, from the Cohenic whiners of the European Union.

When describing the time Britain’s representatives attended a session of the European parliament, Cohen thrills to the fact that a woman from Ireland rebuked a British man:

An Irish woman from a country uplifted by European Union membership reprimanding the new breed of little-England male as he exits history in pursuit of an illusion: the symbolism was perfect. “Hip, hip hooray!” Farage’s flag-waving Brexit Party cohorts chanted. Save me, please, for I shall weep.

But seriously, the word “weep” is largely out of place, being as it was last used by Percy Bysshe Shelley in his 1821 poem commemorating the death of his friend John Keats. You know the opening well: “I weep for Adonais-- he is dead.”

At least Shelley was weeping for something worth weeping for. By the way, weeping is not the manliest of manly virtues. Duh?

And yet, Cohen inadvertently exposed one of the reasons why Britain left the European Union. Why would the British male allow himself to be put down unceremoniously by an Irish woman? In a nutshell, that was the problem. The weak sisters of Western Europe, led by Angela Merkel, Ursula von der Leyen, Frederika Mogherini, Emmanuel Macron and an Irishwoman were pushing proud British males around. Time to leave, don’t you think. Time to recover some manly pride.

After all, between the weak sisters of Western Europe and Boris Johnson, who better represents manly fortitude?

Since Donald Trump was elected for being largely more manly than Democrats led by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, he understood the wish for Brexit. Certainly, he understood it better than Roger Cohen.

Cohen continues to weep:

Speaking of symbolism, the fact that President Trump has been a fulsome supporter of this folly is apt. An ahistorical, amoral American leader cheering on a British abdication sums up the end of an era. The world was rebuilt after 1945 on something of more substance than British-American lies and bloviation; it took resolve. The torch has passed. To whom exactly is unclear, perhaps to a country slow to contain a plague. That is a problem.

But, kings may abdicate. Nations do not abdicate. Great Britain has detached itself from a European Union that has been hellbent on remaining on great terms with the terrorist regime in Tehran. Surely, Cohen is not at a loss for insults and invectives, but he does not understand how demoralizing it is to have weak, feckless, inept, terrorist-coddling leaders in the Western world.

Great Britain has its problems. It has serious problems. The people decided that they could better address their problems without the interference of Brussels bureaucrats. Cohen thinks that it’s a dodge, a deflection of responsibility:

Inequality, poor infrastructure, low investment, inadequate schools are real British problems but the take-back-your-country transference of blame for them onto “Brussels bureaucrats” proved that the imagination now overwhelms reality. Truth withers. The mob roars. This, too, is a problem.

How, pray tell, does he know what the truth is? And what gives him, inconsolable dreamer and whiny weeper, absolute definitive knowledge about reality?

As for the reality of World War II, Cohen doesn’t have a clue:

Yes, Britain was undefeated in World War II and helped liberate Europe. But it could do so only with its allies; and it was precisely to secure what it is now turning its back on: a free Europe offering its people the “simple joys and hopes which make life worth living.”

As I have often pointed out, Britain did not win World War II with the help of the nations of the European continent. It was not too long ago, so let’s remember that the nations on the other side of the Channel were all part of the Axis. Most of them belonged to the Third Reich. Britain’s allies were the United States, Canada and Australia. 

At a time when Great Britain has just elected, decisively, a thoroughly conservative government, Cohen pretends that Eastern Europe is missing the great tradition of British liberalism.  This because the nations of Eastern Europe, watching the weak sisters of Western Europe self-destruct by accepting far too many Muslim migrants, do not want any part of it. Perhaps Britain does not want to engage in the same folly, either.

I used the word “abdication” advisedly. Europe needs the great tradition of British liberalism at a moment when Hungary and Poland have veered toward nationalism and, across the Continent, xenophobic hatred is resurgent. It is perverse for Britain to try to look away. Europe is part of Britain. Visit the great Norman monasteries in England and tell me this is not so. The British dead who lie in the Continent’s soil having given their lives for its liberty tell the same story of interlaced fate from a different perspective.

Of course, Cohen has nothing to say about the migrant crisis. Or for the insouciant attitude of local authorities to sex trafficking and gang rapes in Rotherham and Manchester. Is it part of the great tradition of British liberalism to refuse to let young girls be gang raped because one does not one to appear to be racist? In that he shows how detached he is from reality.

In truth, Great Britain won the war. And Germany is now in charge of Europe. Hmmm. Cohen does not seem to grasp the point:

The sensation was most acute in Germany, where the idea of the union was the most effective escape from postwar shame and the rubble of 1945, a form of atonement. But it was ubiquitous, the guarantor of our deliverance and the symbol of our capacity to reinvent the world and even make it better.

Did Britain win World War II to become part of a Fourth Reich?

Roger Cohen dismisses and insults those who voted for Brexit and those who voted in significant numbers for a Tory prime minister. Perhaps one of the reasons that the British people walked out of the EU is that they were tired of being insulted by know-nothing intellectual elites, people who have not the least smidgeon of doubt that they are right:

A bunch of flag-waving fantasists, at the wrong end of actuarial tables, have robbed British youth of the Europe they embrace. They will be looking on as 450 million Europeans across the way forge their fate. Their automatic right to live and work anywhere from Lisbon to Stockholm will be lost.

I’ve lost a limb; more than a limb, my heart. Europe helped Britain grow bigger and more open and more prosperous. Now it will shrink.

A Great Britain led by Boris Johnson is not about to shrink. A Great Britain forging a new alliance with the United States is not about to shrink. Yet, Roger Cohen, mighty prophet that he is, sees nothing but destitution. He should wake the fuck up, stop living in his dreams and try getting back in touch with reality.

Besides, he is far too attached to images of amputation. It feels as though he has done a bit too much psychoanalysis. Or else, that he has taken Freud far too seriously.


trigger warning said...

"Brexit Day, now upon us, feels like the end of hope..."

Not everyone agrees, Rog...

I don't think they care what you want for their country, old boy.

whitney said...

If we could walk on hyperbole we would have a ladder to the Moon

UbuMaccabee said...

Our elites are not elite. They are not even smart, let alone wise. Roger Cohen is a foolish man. He says one foolish thing after another. If you never read the NYT for the rest of the year, you would be wiser than if you did. Their credibility is gone, and will never return. They will never wake the fuck up, they can’t, they are automatons, NPG’s, and they have run out of script. Dead souls. You may as well be talking to an ATM.

whitney said...

They're just all in a social club together and they literally do nothing. Impeachment, Russia, whatever is all just busy work for them. Practical things like roads and infrastructure do not cross their minds. If they all disappeared today it would have no effect on any of our lives. Actually it would probably be positive

Sam L. said...

"After all, as noted here, the first rule of democratic decorum is to accept the results of a fair election." Dems say it's only fair when THEY win, and absolutely UNFAIR when they lose.

Cohen missed his chance. Some years ago, he should have moved to England and become a British subject, so that he could vote to stop BREXIT, Now he's just a whiner, much like Hillary!, when things did not go the way they (separately) wanted them to.

Ubu, I don't read the NYT, because I despise, detest, and distrust everything they print. (The WaPoo, too.)