Friday, November 19, 2004

Soul food

All right, dear readers, your blogstress has learned her lesson. Never again will she declare her breakaway republic to be a spleen-free zone, the resultant loneliness being more than she can bear. For ever since she asked her devotees to spare the spleen and pass the erudition, she has received not one bit of postable correspondence from her once enthusiastic public.

Today's proclamation, therefore, will declare to be a confection concocted with Spleenda, a low-invective derivative of spleen that is safe for consumption by cardiac patients, bi-polars, bi-sexuals, hypertensives, hyperbolics and just plain old hot-heads.

Her readers will recall that, in the wake of the horrifying results of the presidential election, your Webwench despaired of the fact that the highly articulate outrage of Very Smart People in the upper reaches of medialand was actually playing into the hands of the righties with its contemptuous portrayals of the moralists who voted for President Bush.

This is not to say that your cybertrix is not a pot of fury herself. (You'll recall that she almost came to blows over a plate of smoked fish at a Yom Kippur gathering with a loud-mouthed right-wing retiree.) It's just to say that those of our kind need to exercise caution until we've arrived at a sound messaging strategy for selling the values of peace, love and understanding (isn't there something about those in the New Testament?), not to mention affordable health care, solvent Social Security, and the notion of a government constructed of the people's money for the public good, not for corporate profits.

As any good shrink will tell you, rage is often the expression of sadness, and vice versa. When infuriated in settings deemed inappropriate for female anger, women tend to cry. In grief, men often rail. In our current dilemma, your emotionally androgynous blogstress sees grief as the higher form of expression, and none has expressed it better than Hendrik Hertzberg in last week's New Yorker:

Here in the bluest borough of the bluest city of the bluest state in all our red-white-and-blue American Union, it has not been a happy week.

In his characteristically elegant cadence, Hertzberg guides us down his river of tears at a gliding, not furious, pace, explaining without name-calling the phenomena that confound us blue-staters about the vaunted religious vote for Bush:

In voting for a party that wants to tax work rather than wealth, that scorns thrift, that sees the natural world not as a common inheritance but as an object of exploitation, and that equates economic inequality with economic vitality, they have voted against their own material (and, some might imagine, spiritual) well-being. The moral values that stirred them seem not to encompass botched wars or economic injustices or environmental depredations; rather, moral values are about sexual behavior and its various manifestations and outcomes, about family structures, and about a particularly demonstrative brand of religious piety.

The piece is hardly humorless; in describing how certain types of religious trust Bush's impulsive leadership style because of a belief in the president's anointment by the Creator, Hertzberg refers to W's ruler as "Almight Gut". (Nice play, by the way, on the German...)

The consolidation of power into the executive branch provides the essay's closing shot, with an ominous insinuation of a Constitution nearly broken:

The system of checks and balances has broken down, but the country remains divided—right down the nonexistent, powerless middle.

Read Hertzberg's "Talk of the Town" Comment

If, like your net-tĂȘte, you just can't get enough of Hertzberg, check out this pithy interview with Susan Q. Stranahan of Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk:

Stranahan: Do you think that the national media (concentrated in Blue States) can ever hope to understand the motivations of this segment of the population, or is the cultural divide just too great?

Hendrik Hertzberg: I guess we'll find out. Even as we speak, explorers commissioned by the Blue Media are trying on pith helmets and khaki shorts, readying themselves for the trek into the Heartland of Darkness, with nothing but a tattered copy of
What's the Matter with Kansas? to guide them. I wish them, you should excuse the expression, Godspeed.

Read Stranahan's interview with Hertzberg

Now, your Webwench's point in all of this, dear reader, is not to simply delight her readers with the utterances of an outstanding writer. It is to say, here is the way to vent. We can't all write with the grace of Hertzberg--yeah, we got dat--but we can part our curtain of rage to risk the exposure of our souls to this harsh reality. It will hurt a bit. But without taking the risk of that pain, our souls will retreat as the power-mongers soldier on. And what a terrible sin that would be.

NOTE: In his list of daily reads of which he speaks to Stranahan, Hertzberg neglects to mention Your blogstress is certain that this was a mere oversight.

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