Forget the large hadron collider. the real end of the world will come when the reader comments under a Nick Cohen article finally create a sucking pit of nihilistic despair that will drag all of humanity through. Nick powered up the enraged Guardianista collator this morning with another fine piece about the role of hate in politics. He focuses on the beserking activities of liberals in the US over Palin:
liberal journalists turned her family into an object of sexual disgust: inbred rednecks who had stumbled out of Deliverance. Palin was meant to be pretending that a handicapped baby girl was her child when really it was her wanton teenage daughter’s. When that turned out to be a lie, the media replaced it with prurient coverage of her teenage daughter, who was, after all, pregnant, even though her mother was not going to do a quick handover at the maternity ward and act as if the child was hers.
Hatred is the most powerful emotion in politics. At present, American liberals are not fighting for an Obama presidency. I suspect that most have only the haziest idea of what it would mean for their country. The slogans that move their hearts and stir their souls are directed against their enemies: Bush, the neo-cons, the religious right.
When a hate campaign goes wrong, however, disaster follows. And everything that could go wrong with the campaign against Palin did. American liberals forgot that the public did not know her. By the time she spoke at the Republican convention, journalists had so lowered expectations that a run-of-the-mill speech would have been enough to win the evening.
As it was, her family appeared on stage without a goitre or a club foot between them, and Palin made a fighting speech that appealed over the heads of reporters to the public we claim to represent. ‘I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion,’ she said as she deftly detached journalists from their readers and viewers. ‘I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country.’
English leftists made the same mistake of allowing their hatred to override their judgment after the Iraq war. If they had confined themselves to charging Tony Blair with failing to find the weapons of mass destruction he promised were in Iraq, and sending British troops into a quagmire, they might have forced him out. They were so consumed by loathing, however, they insisted that he had lied, which he clearly had not. They set the bar too low and Blair jumped it with ease. ‘When a man believes that any stick will do, he at once picks up a boomerang,’ said GK Chesterton, and when the politically committed go on a berserker you should listen for the sound of their own principles smacking them in the face.
Splendid stuff. I can almost hear the space time-continuum tearing as the comments flood in, but thankfully the Guardian CIF team are working hard to remove the darker material.