Now that I am well on the way to recovery from the bruises on my chin suffered when I was astonished by Harley Soandso’s column about Chris Hedges on SFGate.com (seven prepositional phrases in a clause! A new blog personal best!), I can reason out what bothered me about this assertion:
Yet the Rockford incident had a chilling aspect to it. As described in the press, it could well have been a scene out of the recent miniseries on the rise of Hitler to power in Nazi Germany.
The difference between the many incidents at Berkeley and the Rockford incident is that, at Berkeley, it’s usually the rabble against an Establishment spokesperson. At Rockford, it was just the opposite; the incident had the feel of a government protest against an outsider.
America has been called the Republic of Many Mansions (based on the biblical quote from John 14:2). The Carmody text (The Republic of Many Mansions) posits that America has a lot of (mostly Christian) strains in its religious thought. Different denominations and whatnot. The paragraph represents a long, albeit annotated, description of how I decided to frame my thesis for this posting, which is:
America is a republic of many establishments, and hence a lot of wide-eyed innocent strugglers against the oppressive established regime (or jackbooted hooligans, if you’re in the establishment being assailed at the immediate time of assailing).
For instance, from Sorensen’s perspective, Chris Hedges and his points of view, shared by his colleagues at many established dailies and chic alternative weeklies, represent the Wide-Eyed Innocent (or perhaps slightly jaundiced and worldly) Struggler Against the Oppressive Regime (WEISAOR for not-very-short). The Rockford College graduates and their families represent Tools of The Man (ToTM). Because, you see, Hedges was speaking against an Establishment, namely the 3-year-old presidential administration and the recent Republican-controlled Congress, a decisive foreign policy, and whatever handy straw men he could set up regarding these. (Certainly, he was not speaking against the republican form of government itself, where the hoi polloi pick the leaders whom the rabble think will best represent it.)
However, to some with a different point of view, Chris Hedges represents an Establishment of a different sort. The Established Coastal Media, which postures to represent the People and wants to dictate how The People thinks. Not by force, of course, but because ECM thinking is right and dissenters will be mocked and looked down upon. However, to some, ECM represents the Oppressive Established Regime (OER), or at least a bunch of out-of-touch twits. So sometimes, the local (or imported) WEISAOR makes a little noise.
America offers a good number of institutions against which anyone can play David. The Church (which cam be any of a handful of small Christian denominations or the Catholics), The Military Industrial Complex, the Gummint, Congress, the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, Corporations, Big Tobacco, Big Oil, the Automakers, the Unions, and so on and so on and scooby dooby doo-bee.
So dividing the country into Establishment/Rebel fails because Establishments and their Oppressive Regimes are too prevalent to be noteworthy, and so is rebellion. Rebellion has always been a part of growing up. The adolescent differentiates from the parents through rebellion. Pop culture latched onto this particular part of growing up and has idolized it, super-sized it, and apothesized it (probably because teething is such an individual agony, and not good cinema). Once the new rebels got the parents out of the way, they decided to take on The Man, and they keep finding another The Man to take on. Even I define myself in opposition to some things, rebelling against the oppressive regime who thinks I should mow my back lawn before it goes to seed. Join me this afternoon for a protest against it.
So Sorensen’s gone off into victimics when shrilling about his WEISAORs representing “the rabble against an Establishment spokesperson” while the opposing WEISORs represent “a government protest against an outsider.” We’re all outsiders in the establishment.