American Culture

Where is my tribe?

drums-2026535_960_720In the last two days I’ve been tone policed for being unkind, uncool, and tribal. Mind you, the single person doing the tone policing had nothing to say about what I signified. Typical of tone policing, it’s all about style over substance, the signifier, not the signified.

So I confess. Surprising nobody, I’m both unkind and uncool. Looked at across the great spectrum of human behavior where, oh, let’s say Hitler occupies one extreme, lacking in both kindness and coolness (well, there’s that whole fashion sense/propaganda style thing, but I digress), and on the other end there’s some saint or other noted for both kindness and coolness. Bono, maybe? I’m sure the tone police will pardon me for falling somewhere closer to the middle than not.

But am I tribal? Damned skippy. Let me tell you a little about my tribe.

We abhor political violence.

On that point, if only that point, we’re non-partisan. We’re ecumenical. We have no one traditional dress code or manner of speech. You’re as likely to find us sporting business suits as mohawks, and as likely to see Hank Williams, Jr. on our playlists as Skinny Puppy. We’re as likely to drop f-bombs as not. Get used to it, fucko.

And we’re non-exclusive. One can belong to as many tribes as one wants and still belong to ours, just so long as there is nothing mutually exclusive between ours and the others. One cannot both abhor political violence and endorse it. Or encourage it. Or condone it.

Our most vocal members also believe that silence is complicity.

So here I am, beating my drum, signalling to the rest of my tribe. Where are you? Will you pick up the drum and beat a rhythm for an end to political violence?

4 replies »

  1. This is a great challenge. I’m implicated, perhaps – a few days ago I had a comment on another post suggesting that it might be good if certain elements of our society, who assume that progressives are all pacifist pussies, had a little more fear in their lives. I think my comments then, and elsewhere, can probably be read a number of ways.

    I note that in the wake of the Scalise shooting we all of a sudden have this grave concern from pols on the right about playing nice. I do NOT recall the same sort of unifying messages in the past when the shooters have been right-wingers and the victims dirty, not even people liberals. Maybe my memory is failing.

    I absolutely do not recall the good Rep. Ryan being so eloquent and passionate about this whole mess in the past. I don’t recall him chastising our GOP stochastic terror leaders after this outburst:

    Or the others mentioned here:

    And a lot more folks died there than did in Alexandria.

    What’s the difference?

    I wondered once upon a time why people like Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum weren’t jail. I mean, no, I didn’t actually wonder literally. I ain’t dumb.

    You’re absolutely right – partisan killing is not to be condoned. Period. And I am NOT advocating it.

    I DO understand how there might eventually come a backlash, though. Throughout history, we have cases of people reaching breaking points. Once the powerful make clear that they are the enemy and that they have no regard for the rights of those they rule, bad things happen. Heads have been paraded about on pikes.

    I’m with you. 100%. And hopefully those who have been … cavalier? … about their roles in normalizing anti-left rage and violence will realize, hopefully sooner rather than later, the error of their ways.

    I’d like to hear the same passion out of these people when the shooter is one of theirs.

    • As to what you say about it being possible to take your words in many different ways, that’s true. The hazard is that the esoteric meaning could be lost to the surface parable, as it were, for those with less linguistic sophistication than you possess. Hell, I still wish we had punctuation to indicate irony, wry wit, jesting, and sarcasm, because it’s astounding to me how many people can’t seem to read a line with different deliveries. You’ll do you, and that’s cool. It wasn’t all *that* long ago I liked to quote Mencken’s throat slitting quip, enjoyed tossing out the odd comment about petards and keelhauling, and added an honest to goodness pitchfork to my Amazon wishlist for a day when I’m feeling frivolous enough to buy it along with a guitar hook to hang it from. I’ve also learned to stop. It chafes. I *know* I don’t pose an imminent risk to anyone. But it’s still pouring partisan thoughts of bloodshed into the zeitgeist. My little bit by itself is harmless enough. My little bit with all the other little bits creates a larger tone. Do we *really* want to err in that direction?

      I’ve an idea. Let’s start a letter writing campaign. Not email. A forever stamp on a physical envelope containing an actual letter letter writing campaign. Everyone that wants to take part writes each person applicable to their locale, to wit, from head of the local city level government, to the head of their county/parish government, to their state reps and senators, to their governors, to their US reps and senators, the president, and the veep.

      As unlikely as it sounds coming from me, I’d encourage the most supportive, collegial tone in the world. Go full BF Skinner on them. The did their trick. Give them their treat. Positive reinforcement. And use it as a teachable moment. Encourage them to reflect on past killings at the hands of maniacs poisoned by analogous venom from the right, right down to Gabby Giffords when the campaign of the time was rife with mere metaphors like “crosshairs” and “target.” Remind them of the tragedy of the Portland hate-stabber. Remind them of whichever ones they should recall. And ask that, having reflected so, and having seen its striking similarity to this most recent tragedy, would they maybe take a moment to put out a statement decrying political violence generally speaking.

      You get the idea. A million unique voices making roughly the same request would be infinitely better than any boilerplate I could ever come up with.

    • I’m not sure I’ll ever self-censor, because that would feel too much like there were things I cannot say, perspectives that cannot be told. I’d be uncomfortable with that. But I can work on how I speak my mind.