Conservatives love to take complex things and make them simple. No New Taxes! Drill, Baby, Drill! Socialist Suicide! Homicidal Healthcare!
They also love to try to take simple things and make them complicated, but they fail. Ayn Rand spent a gawdawful number of pages trying to construct an argument that rigid selfishness is good for your neighbor. Ronald Reagan used all sorts of economists to try to explain that giving rich people billions of dollars would somehow make you richer. George W. Bush told you over and over again that remaining at war would bring you peace.
The National Review’s Jonah Goldberg employs this tactic to the absurd, here. Not only is this Disney cartoon about dragons a subtle psychological ploy by leftist animators, its central premise is shoddy: monsters are never less than monsters. How could people be so stupid to entertain any idea otherwise? Gah.
Anyone who thinks monsters are just “misunderstood” has misunderstood monsters.
I’ve seen How to Train Your Dragon twice. My daughter loves it (the lead dragon reminds us of her cat). And I think it’s pretty great too . .
But the hero, Hiccup, an alienated, smart-mouthed teen, discovers that dragons are actually inclined to be lovable, sweet-tempered companions, if only his fellow Vikings could get over their stubborn ignorance and prejudice and give the monsters a chance. It’s all been a misunderstanding, and in the end, dragons and Vikings learn to love one another.
My long-standing complaint against this sort of story — aside from its being a complete cliché — is that it teaches kids there’s no such thing as monsters.
Really? After seeing the animated film, kids will never start awake from nightmares or cry out to their parents about something under their beds? Children are the most vulnerable of our citizens to relentless ideas about relentless monsters. They’d be the ones most entertained by a film where an alternative idea was employed with respect to a single one of the horribles, dragons.
And how telling is it that Goldberg sees it as a cliche? Look at all the wars we’ve been in, look at all the peoples we swore were monsters and that we had no choice but to kill. We’re now friends with the British, the Mexicans, the Spanish, the Japanese, the Germans, and the Italians. We’ve established relations with Vietnam. Christ, we’re rebuilding the entire nation of Iraq. This is both as timely and concrete as a parable gets.
Meanwhile, right-wingers who are too threatened to grow beyond their formative years stake their reputations and jobs upon the idea that a monster is a hot topic is a monster is a granite thing, and granite things never change and that’s a granite thing, too. They count upon that imminent, faceless threat to transfer their stupidity upon you, to get you to transfer your better, personal faculties to them, and to get you to beg for more.
. . “Getting things done” always and everywhere means conservatives compromising on their position of essentially wanting to do nothing and the liberals compromising on wanting to do everything. The result is that something is done, though just not “enough” — which is fine for the liberals because it allows them to come back next time to provide more money for their “alarmingly underfunded” studies, pilot programs and other acorns destined to one day be mighty oaks of the Leviathan state.
. . And when Obamacare — like the stimulus — fails, the answer will be more of the same: more mandates and more regulation, more spending and more taxes, more resources and freedoms thrown into the maw of Leviathan.
From a reader:
Moved from Oregon twenty months ago to take a job with GSA at the White House – a dream come true in many ways.
But as a conservative, and from the less than government loving West, I tell my friends not to worry. Yes, the Fed is HUGE, and so bloody inefficient – I tell them is [sic] it ever became efficient then life as we know it will end. The public sector in general, like socialism, is a gaping maw that only consumes, delivering no useful end product for the most part . .
. . At The Fortnightly Review, British philosopher Anthony O’Hear gives as good a rationale as you can get for not letting Obamacare get to the “roll-back” stage.
It is very hard to know who to vote for in the forthcoming election, or indeed whether to vote at all. There is no voice offering an alternative to the soft totalitarianism we have become so used to, or proposing any dismantling of the great leviathan bearing down on individual souls. That leviathan gained ground because people believed that it could remedy weaknesses inherent in the human condition, which in another age might have been seen as the inevitable outcome of original sin.
Original sin! That Obamacare: some apple; some core.
I will mention that Goldberg’s healthy fear of ravenous threats is not consistent. He’s sometimes got plenty in common with the beast, and that’s when the liberals over-react and comically wimp everything:
. . Who says that making Cookie Monster into moderate eater will improve kids’ behavior anyway? Indeed, for years, Cookie Monster has devoured not only cookies, but things which merely look like cookies, including plates, Frisbees, and the moon. If Cookie Monster is so influential, why haven’t I heard more about kids going to the hospital after trying to eat plates?
Cookie monsters, c’mon. But dragons, those are weighty symbols for our children and our country to come to grips with.