Sunday, January 9, 2011

How "The Dark Knight" Helps

For all sorts of reasons personal and other, I never feel comfortable commenting on the wake of tragedy. Perhaps that's a mistake, as without proper absorption these things can just be forgotten and not learned from.

The political right as a whole is not responsible for the death of a child and a judge in Arizona.Columnist Kathleen Parker or American Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Hoff Sommers, who have both written splendid works on the role of growing boys in our society, have no bearing on this madness. In fact, their writing may provide wisdom as regards the frequent alienation of young men that all too often "snap."

However, there is an ultra-paranoid tinge of American politics, which can be seen everywhere from Russia Today's Max Keiser to the insane talk show host Alex Jones to the bipolar Glenn Beck (who deviates from warm and fuzzy Billy Graham acolyte one day to the creepy aforementioned Jones the next) that is appealing to the basest level of people's fear zone. I experienced this first hand when I was working in Washington D.C. Thinking it would be good for a laugh, I handed a friend (who was a Tea Party supporter) some literature by the infamous Lyndon Larouche, the cult leader who has been running for president as a Democrat for three decades. Instead of laughing at it, I was caught off guard as this friend got really into Lyndon Larouche's monetary conspiracies and thanked me for telling him about them.

There's nothing "conservative" about the like of Keiser, Jones or Larouche and it shows the inadequacy of our political vocabulary to label them in the "liberal-conservative" paradigm. Instead, they're more like the other side of liberty that was illustrated so beautifully in the film The Dark Knight.

On the one hand, we do have the Batman side of liberty - willing to use rough tactics on the bad guys but only in protection of the innocent and embracing vigilantism simply because the corruption of the system has caused them to lose faith. On the other hand is the Joker, which as Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred describes in the film, "just wants to see the world burn."

Instead of getting down into the flames of "right" and "left," it may perhaps be wise to look at the Batman differentiation. For whatever I disagree with him, Ron Paul does legitimately seem as if he believes his model of liberty will benefit society. His case against the war on drugs is the strongest I have ever heard. (It's worth noting to anyone who will now dismiss libertarian ideology that tragedies have been perpetuated by the state in pursuit of the war on drugs.) Alex Jones and Max Keiser, however, seem to have demons of a more personal nature that they use their wide ranging microphone to expel on the country like some sort of toxic fallout.

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