Sunday, January 25, 2015

Summer Soldiers

Now and then, I become unusually irritated by persons who, for whatever reason, have decided to follow the Politician’s Principle:

“Show me which way the crowd is going,
And I will lead them.”

It’s particularly annoying when such a “summer soldier” has a significant public profile and has decided that now is the time to exploit it.

No, I’m not going to name names. This is just to blow off a little steam. After all, why not? I have plenty to spare.

Some of us have been fighting the good fight for freedom, for clarity of speech and thought, and for the fundamentals of reason – especially the concept of an objective reality from which truths can be drawn – for one hell of a long time. It’s galling to see a summer soldier suddenly leap into the fray and posture as commander.

I fight that war on two fronts: opinion-editorial and fiction. All I get for those efforts is a percentage of the purchase price of my novels, which I hope is justified by their entertainment value. I take a lot of abuse from our enemies. That’s probably 99% of why the summer soldiers irritate me so.

Some of the offenders take the institutional approach: they seek to capitalize on a trend among common citizens by creating a “front group” and soliciting donations. No doubt you can think of a couple. But the more common sort is the individual with some notoriety, who’s decided that weighing in on some subject would serve him well now. Many such individuals are contenders for high office or some other form of political access and influence...but not all of them.

There are numerous cases among entertainers. Many of these are desperate to be known for something other than their dramatic or musical skills. The mayfly ephemerality characteristic of popularity in their realm can easily give rise to such a yearning. But that’s an explanation, not a justification.

They offend me. Yes, even the few who agree with me. To borrow a phrase from Laura Ingraham, they should “shut up and sing.”

The very worst rational error one can make is to adopt a good posture for the wrong reason.

If entertainers were without large popular followings whose members are eager to ape them in every conceivable way, I daresay my ire would be an order of magnitude less. Celebritarianism has brought us so much herd-like behavior that such persons are capable of swaying the future of our whole nation. One consequence, perhaps the most deplorable of all, has been conservatives’ enthusiasm for promoting celebrities, including the most minor ones, who proclaim themselves conservatives.

To those who think that to be a good thing: What would you say should your favored celebrity change his public posture, taking his entire herd of followers with him? Alternately, imagine that those followers should some day grow up and become embarrassed about their earlier mindless adulation of said celebrity. What would be their attitude toward their earlier ethical, religious, and political attachments? Are you willing to bet on it either way?

Caution, Gentle Reader. Here be dragons.

As I said in the opening segment, I needed to blow off a little steam. This particular irritant has been on my mind for decades. It’s not the worst of the batch, merely the one that’s bubbled to the surface this morning.

I try to resist the urge to vent this way, especially on a Sunday morning before Mass. I don’t always succeed.


Backwoods Engineer said...

Going to let us know which celebrity is the target of this particular bit of celebritarianism?

A Reader said...

The one who springs to mind first is Adam Baldwin, who's not "A Baldwin". I think it might be explained as a favorable reaction to some actor or celebrity, even a B lister, who doesn't turn into a first-rate idiot when he starts talking about politics. The other quasi-conservative actor I can think of off-hand is Gary Sinise, who's famously supportive of the troops. The downside of this is that he's the star of CSI: NY, which echoes the same negative stereotypes of gun owners and gun ownership as every other police procedural show on CBS. Come to think of it, I can't name a single cop show anywhere on TV that treats gun ownership as a respectable idea or the ownership of multiple firearms and a small personal stockpile of ammunition as anything other than evidence of incipient homicidal madness. Instead you have fan favorites like Jethro Gibbs and Seeley Booth who are (A) military veterans who have (b) killed lots of people on-screen and off who (c) personally scorn and deplore guns. This is why I don't watch them anymore.
Which message ("Support the troops" or "Only idiots own guns") has the greater impact? Does Gary Sinise do more harm than good when he brings his personal fan-base to a show that denigrates a fundamental human liberty?