After finally getting around to viewing Napoleon Dynamite at the local theater—yes, I am the spittin’ image of him, just as Music & TV Editor Bill Frost maintained during my brief absence—the only other event I’m looking forward to this summer is the 2004 Republican National Convention, Aug. 30-Sept. 2, in New York City.
Nothing puts the finishing note on summer quite like the sight of thousands of filthy-rich people packed into one large convention hall. And don’t you worry, because aside from figuring how best to keep us all safe from gay marriage and “terrists,” the GOP currently promises on its Website that this year’s right-wing hoedown will showcase “the most diverse group of delegates in party history.” (Wait a minute. Didn’t the Democrats trademark “diverse” long ago?) Which means you can count on seeing lots of minorities who also hate gays and love deficit-pumping tax breaks. Sorry to lay the liberal line on you so thick, but that’s what you count on this column for. Right?
• There to rally the troops with their own brand of right-wing intellectualism will be the young conservative shock troops of ProtestWarrior. Founded by a bright young man with degrees in computer engineering and film production, this Austin, Texas-based group lives to show that the left “can’t compete in the marketplace of ideas,” as its Website boldly proclaims. What’s more, liberals have a “hatred of what’s good.” Staunch defenders of Halliburton and the Iraq war—you’ve got to drain “the swamp of Islamo-fascism,” you know, even if Saddam Hussein was a secular Ba’thist—ProtestWarrior revels in protest slogans designed to expose the moral bankruptcy of the left by manipulating its own topsy-turvy logic. Funny that, because this administration is just as clueless as many on the left. If our nation is safer after the invasion of Iraq, why did the International Institute for Strategic Studies recently report that the war has “accelerated” recruitment into al-Qaeda? If Saddam was complicit in 9/11 and cooperated with Osama Bin Laden, then why hasn’t he been charged with those crimes? Would people care enough to read a history of the Middle East—William L. Cleveland’s A History of the Modern Middle East or Arthur Goldschmidt Jr.’s A Concise History of the Middle East—before opening their mouths? No. It’s so easier to believe that you’re, you know, right. So here are a few ProtestWarrior slogan samples—and retorts, natch:
• “Saddam Only Kills His Own People: It’s None of Our Business!” We screwed the Kurds in 1975, when U.S. Secretary of State and Republican Henry Kissinger mediated an agreement between Iraq and Iran that ended Iranian support for Kurdish separatists. We screwed the Kurds again when Donald Rumsfeld, then U.S. Middle East envoy, met with Saddam Dec. 20, 1983, to resume diplomatic relations with Iraq, even as Saddam’s regime murdered 8,000 Kurdish men and loads of Shias. Rumsfeld met with Saddam again March 24, 1984, even as the United Nations documented Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran. But we don’t care about dead Iranians. Right? Only dead Kurds. To be fair, where was right-wing outrage when Clinton failed the Rwandans?
• “Except for ending slavery, fascism, Nazism and communism, war has never solved anything” Point taken. But surely you’re not talking about the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, or the Vietnam War.
• “End the Arab Occupation of Jewish Land” Hmm, you mean no one lived in Palestine prior to 1948?