Bath House Logic

Conservative writer P.J. O'Rourke, who used to butt heads with Molly Ivins on TV, came on the Tonight show once and explained right wing logic: "If you weren't a liberal when young, you had no heart. If you're not a conservative when older, you have no brain." Tell that to Chomsky... or Molly Ivins' ghost. But part of his statement is true: attaining a conservative brain comes with abandonment of the heart.

O'Rourke wrote for the National Lampoon in the early 70's. It was a viciously funny rag evolved from the Harvard Lampoon, a bastion of privileged WASPs, where they mercilessly ridiculed Jews, Italians, Negroes, and Hispanics. This was not lynch-mob bigotry -- these rich white kids had no need to be angry, the world was going to be their oyster, headed as they were for corporate boardrooms, and the law firms who served them -- it was just good, solid, upper class snobbery.

The right-wingers I’ve sparred with on the internet are "former democrats" who "saw the light." The euphemism for this is "enlightened self-interest," which I call "fear of someone taking away one’s toys." One, despite his straight-down-the-alley conservative views, fears and prejudices, claims contempt for Party Loyalists. Must be because the only party he's loyal to went down at Nuremberg. If everyone these people say hate America really hated America, the only Real Americans would be living in an armed compound in Idaho.

One of the biggest points of contention in these discussions has been homosexuality and you guessed it, San Francisco. One of these guys is bent over the very idea of “gay lifestyle” — which he is “repulsed” by — and like so many other “good Americans” across the USA, thoroughly believes that San Francisco is a seething den of iniquity where gay men romp wildly in bath houses and take delight in spreading AIDS, while the ultra-left wing Nancy Pelosi, in cahoots with Barbra Streisand, plots the overthrow of the government and end of the civilized world.

Any attempt to explain that homosexuality is a congenital condition like curly hair, a big nose or artistic talent is met only with silence and further snide remarks about bath houses. Or, as in one case, Barbra Streisand’s nose. One has already assailed me for suggesting "war hero" McCain has PTSD and tried to turn it into another anti-gay-AIDs rant, even comparing the "dangers" of homosexual behavior to the threat of nuclear war. (Likely he’s a repressed old closet queen hiding behind the flag.) Failing to persecute gays, I learn, constitutes “support” for the spread of AIDS. By this logic, my failure to “support the troops” constitutes support for the war, since I also do not persecute them.

I imagine a doorman or bouncer outside a neocon club of some sort, checking the conservative credentials of all who try and enter...those who fail the test are sent to the "interrogation room..." where, to paraphrase Ambrose Bierce, their eyes are plucked out in order to improve their vision. Or a headline: Angry White Men, wrapped in flags and rigidly standing their ground, defy violent onslaught of sissy peaceniks. It's really impossible communicating with anyone who assumes superior morality and uses self-righteousness as a weapon.

Patriotism may certainly be the "last refuge of a scoundrel" (Johnson) or even "the first" (Bierce). But I'm seeing a new aspect here: Patriotism seems to the haven, clung to in desperation, of many an essentially empty person.

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