Monday, October 26, 2009

The List, Part 2

By the way, the next time you run across one of the people mentioned here, be sure and tell them you saw them on the Our Word Enemies List. I'm sure they'll be grateful for the recognition.

And now back to the list. Mitchell launches into these people and organizations for whom he has a deep and abiding, if impersonal, contempt:

Rod Dreher – what’s that old saying about “with friends like this”? Having this crunchy con blogger on your side is like going into a gunfight armed with a butter knife. I’m sure Rod’s a nice guy, a good family man, someone you’d like to have as your next-door neighbor; but on his blog he shows a most unbecoming side. He snarks at conservative talk radio for being snarky, and honestly believes conservative bloggers have done more damage to civility than liberal ones. He wonders about Gingrich’s conversion to Catholicism, while he himself has bounced from Protestantism to Catholicism and now to Orthodoxy. He seems to want so badly to be taken seriously by those with whom he disagrees that he bends over backward to give liberals the benefit of the doubt, assuming their good intentions while questioning those of his “fellow” conservatives. (He reminds me of a boss I once had who was perfectly willing to believe every complaint he ever received about his staff, while dismissing any concerns his staff might have had in turn.) I don’t question Dreher’s sincerity; why does he seem so suspicious about that of others?

For his extremely irritating manner, Dreher lands the number one spot on my list by pure merit.

Mark Shea – his brilliant work as a Catholic apologist is frequently obscured by his frequent rants about the "unjust" war in Iraq, his unbecoming snarkiness about the Bush administration, and his unwillingness to grant that those with whom he disagrees might be acting with good faith and sincere beliefs of his own. Sarcasm and irony, when employed effectively, can be an art form - but Shea doesn't have that particular gift.

Shea is a passionate opponent of the war in Iraq. He can make a compelling, if not persuasive, case against it. Shea's overheated rhetoric may be an accurate reflection of his personality, but it does him no favors when it comes to convincing others of his argument. He can be so nasty about the whole thing, and so dismissive of others, that his arguments have the effect of making one passionately disagree with him regardless of what he's talking about. If he were to insist that the sky was blue, I'd say it was red just to oppose him. Having that effect on people is not the trademark of a particularly useful advocate.

For a long time, Shea held first place on my list, but he’s become better about apologizing for some of the things he’s said, and these mea culpas have softened his image in my eyes somewhat. I truly think he regrets much of what he says in the heat of the moment, but by the same token he continues to put himself there, in what we might consider the proximate cause of sin. Perhaps he’s just someone who should stick to writing articles and forget blogging. Or eliminate his combox, at least.

David Letterman – after what I wrote here, need I say more?

ESPN – it was a good idea to cover the story, but now they’ve become the story. And sport itself becomes secondary to its purpose of filling a spot in the network’s schedule: games with ridiculous start times, college football every night of the week, meaningless bowls created by ESPN simply as a source of cheap programming. Not to mention announcers who think it’s amateur night at the Improv, and their incessant self-promotion. Their “This Is SportsCenter” commercials are great, but not enough to make up for the rest.

Jimmy Carter – one of our worst presidents ever, now one of our worst former presidents ever. I know all the talk about what a great humanitarian he’s supposed to be, but he also constantly denigrates this country while giving aid and comfort to our enemies. He’s shown himself to be a bitter, vindictive, little man. Ronald Reagan deserves to be on Mt. Rushmore for no reason other than having ridded us of this meddlesome president. He's a useful idiot for America's enemies - emphasis on idiot.

Organizations with the word "Christian" in their name but not their mission - you know who you are. Shame on you.

Cathy of Alex castigates not a person, but the mindset that governs such people: mediocrity. In doing so, she ridicules those who believe in the following:

We're all the same. Congratulations! You have not won a thing. There are no winners. There is no such thing because then there would have to be losers and our fragile Western psyches can’t handle that.

Thank God I'm not like those sinners. Heaven may or may not exist but if it does you can be sure the almost perfect are in it. They’ve nominated themselves for the honor.

This is all there is. Nirvana is probably just a band.

Obamamania. Our nation’s leader, who may or may not be an American, is good for the job (not perfect) because he tells us that as a nation we are not perfect. We should be ashamed of ourselves. We have an entire weight of history that we didn’t even live to atone for. Get on that. Don’t work on improving yourself; work on apologizing.

Education. In school, over 90% is no longer the top grade and an A; now, we are graded on a scale so we can be graded with our peers who may or may not actually know anything.

For these people, there is nothing to strive for, she says in conclusion. Good enough is good enough.

And Paul Drew condemns:

The public school system – really, little more than legalized child abuse. (And this is not to besmirch those teachers in that system that do care – prisoners, I dare say, every bit as much as their students.)

Keith Olbermann – is there, honestly, anyone more wretched, angry, and nasty on television today? I’ve seen programs on Animal Planet where the wild beasts weren’t as vicious as Olbermann. (Perhaps he’ll name me Worst Person of the Day for saying that. I’d take it as a badge of honor.)

Mike Antonovich - the Los Angeles County Supervisor who wanted the L.A. Opera to drop Wagner's Ring Cycle because the composer was anti-Semitic. Earth to Antonovich: where have you been the last few years? Did you just hear about this Wagner guy and find out what he believed in? Love or hate him, the man wrote some of the most sublime music ever, and to suggest that politics pull rank over art is, in this case, rank. What a knucklehead.

Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, et al – why are we even listening to these fools? It only encourages them.

Sportswriters who can’t keep their politics out of their columns - don’t try this at home, boys. Leave the heavy intellectual work to the professional political pundits, boys. (P.S. I probably know more about sports than most of you, too.)

And there you have it - the 2009 Our Word Enemies List. Feel free to email us with your additions to the list, or suggestions for next year's. And if you don't see your name here, don't give up hopee - we all need something to which we can aspire. There's still plenty of room for more names!

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