Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How I Unsubscribed

I guess Naomi pushed some buttons.

I used to be an unsuccessful baby leftist. I was never all that good at it, you see. I was raised with a Jewish consciousness, which puts a lot of the crap of the far left into perspective. I always knew on some level, not too far down, that the identity politics were iffy, and the causes we threw ourselves into were pretty lame, and I was always supporting these middle-of-the-road Democrats and getting annoyed when people referred to Christians as 'fundies', and suggesting that folks who said America in the 90s was a police state didn't quite understand the idea of 'police state'. I was a pretty bad lefty. But I stumbled along, because...crud. I don't know exactly why. I wanted to save the world. I didn't do anything I'm ashamed of, I just spent too much time listening to people who weren't worth it, trying to get into the all-purpose revolution.

Anyway, it's the week after 9/11/01. It was kind of a rough week. (Oh, can I understate.) My in-laws were moving to Hawaii, and they had a flight on the eighteenth, but all the flights were grounded. The nation was in mourning. No one knew what the hell happened next. And I was getting the hell off all my e-mail lists because I couldn't take it any more.

The worst thing was my e-mail list of my old college buddies. This woman I used to be fairly close to forwarded this goddamn thing about the word on the Arab street (what happened to the Arab street, anyway?) was that bin Laden was falsely accused, and Mossad did it, forwarded it with this commentary about the importance of considering 'alternative opinions', and when I gave out a piece of my mind, I got to hear about how the Holocaust Museum didn't have anything on gay folks and Roma, and I unsubscribed from the list, and spent Yom Kippur ranting in my head.

Most of the rest of it was pretty funny, in retrospect. There was the chick from New Zealand, for example, who could empathize with the terrorists because NZ was oppressed by U.S. import tariffs. There was the chick from Britain, who couldn't STAND it that the U.S. was going all Robocop, but if we were going after terrorists, we should start with the Real IRA, who 'actually do a lot of harm'. Oh, there was the guy who knew all about the secret courts under the WTC, and was full of secret information that was being kept from the American public, except of course, for that portion of the American public that had access to the New York Times, but he read it on Indymedia, and thought it was special secret stuff.

So I bailed on being a half-hearted leftist, it just seemed like time. And sometimes I'm horrified when people resurface from my college years, and I see the genuine crazy up close.

I was losing all my senses, I was losing all control,
It was getting so offensive, now you want me back for more, and I just won't go.
If you think you know the answers, then you've got a lot of gall,
Cause it gives you satisfaction, knowing nothing at all.

I don't care anymore, I don't wanna find out what I left there for.
I'm not scared and I'm not lonely, I'm not saving all my money or my breath.
I'm not looking for an answer, I'm not asking anyone to second guess.


Anonymous said...

Funny thing is, I used to think I was a centrist. Plenty of nutcases on all sides, I figured, but my actual choices of candidates on the ballot seemed like pretty reasonable people. And then...

Well, Brad DeLong sums it up better than I can, here:

Anonymous said...

The scale in San Francisco and the Bay Area generaly is skewed to the left. Notwithstanding the fact that I'm opposed to Dubiya's insane misadventure in Iraq and am pro gay rights and anti Proposition 8, some here consider me a "right winger." My relatives in the Central Valley may suspect I'm a Communist. Go figure!

wbs said...

I got to hear about how the Holocaust Museum didn't have anything on gay folks and Roma

Uhh, wait so is there something too left wing about me if I wonder about this question too?

I attended a shul full of Holocaust survivors (you probably knowof it) for a while and dare not ask that question to them, I couldn't -- I'm not cruel like that. But I did ask a Rebbetzin (my age) why Orthodox Jews weren't involved in civil rights and charity that benefited everyone. She said she didn't know and that was the end of that conversation and I never brought it up again.

Please tell me how can these questions can possibly be asked to anyone without offending or hurting them. There is no book anywhere that could possibly tell me the answer to these kind of questions -- it has to come from a person (unless there are books?).

Anyway, wow it's RH almost. L'shana tova!

Anonymous said...

wbs, read about Heschel.

And see

There are plenty of religious Jews who have been and ARE very active in working for the civil rights and well-being of non-Jews. Look outside your narrow shul!