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Goodbye Jesus

"i Pledge..." A Cynic's Take


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I've been hearing a lot about this I Pledge video lately, both on Facebook and from people in general. Being the responsible, civil-minded individual I am, I decided I'd give it a watch to see if I can't figure what all the commotion is about. 'Cause, y'know, I'm a patriot like that.


So, queue the video...


Orchestral intro music: Check

"Profound" opening quote and counter-quote: Check

Obama doing his thing as Orator in Chief: Check

Various B-list celebrities endorsing fuzzy feel-good ideas celebrities usually endorse: Check

Obligatory "non-conformist" celebrity pledging "to the funk" to ad Cool Kidz cred: Check

Obligatory cranky old man making impossible road salute pledge: Check

Various B-list celebrities cont' endorsing fuzzy feel-good ideas celebrities usually endorse: Check

Idealistic but unsanitary "mellow yellow" pledge: Check

Repentant conservation pledge from hip hopper for extra Cool Kidz cred: Check

Naive green endorsement failing to account for non-celeb finances: Check

Various B-list celebrities cont' endorsing fuzzy feel-good ideas celebrities usually endorse: Check

Obligatory anti-slavery endorsement: Check

Obligatory secondary anti-slavery endorsement: Check

Obligatory tertiary anti-slavery endorsement: Check

Slavery is bad, mkay?: Check

Various B-list celebrities cont' endorsing fuzzy feel-good ideas celebrities usually endorse: Check

Obligatory Ghandi quote: Check

Enthusiastic closing challenge: Check

Motivational chant in unison panning to inspirational poster denoument: Check

And that's a wrap, people!


So, what did we learn from this little exercise? Absolutely nothing, of course. What's to be learned from this experience that everyone wasn't already painfully aware of? Obama talk good. Pretty people like Obama. Pretty people talk about Obama talk make pretty video. Everyone feel pretty inside. Pretty pretty pretty.


The video's a perfectly straight-forward piece of propaganda. That's right, fellow libs, I said it. It's propaganda. That doesn't mean I disagree with the overall message or think kids should be sheltered from it as if watching it is going to warp their fragile little minds - if that were the case, none of us would be here. Kids see crap worse than this every day from their buddy two seats over in English class. Eight minutes of pretty people saying pretty things on camera wouldn't phase a 4 year old. However, whether or not one agrees with what's being said doesn't change the fact it's blatant propaganda.


So why am I even bothering to write this? Because I'm absolutely mystified by the twisted-panty reaction of my fellow liberals to the twisted-panty reaction of conservatives to the video. This? This is the straw that breaks your camel's back? After all the other shit we've seen from conservatives since Obama got elected? Birthers, Freepers, town hall riots, death panels, congressional filibusters, Chris Buttars, the Eagle Forum and gods know what else I'm forgetting, and this is what raises the hair on your back and makes you wonder what's wrong with these people?


Well, wonder no more. I'm going to impart unto you the wisdom of the cynic and definitively state once and for all why the right is once again up in arms over a completely innocuous piece of government propaganda. Propaganda which we all know they would swallow without hesitation were it coming from Their Guy. The answer is one of supremely elegant simplicity. They're sore losers.


They're not opposed to black people. They're not opposed to community service. They're not opposed to being less wasteful, curing global diseases, abolishing slavery or any of the other fuzzy feel-good endorsements made by the pretty people in the video. They're opposed to Them. Not the pretty people, though they're certainly part of Them. Not Obama either, though he's both figurehead and leader of Them. They're opposed to Them in the Not Us sense. Racism is probably a factor, and politics is most certainly a factor, but neither one explains it fully. As my "dad" said in response to the feedback to one of his posts, the hard right just can't STAND that Obama won the election. In their minds, Obama is Lincoln 2.0. The democratic candidate from the liberal north who rode in on a wave of everything they're opposed to and snatched the White House away from the rightful heirs. He shouldn't have won, he couldn't have won, and the fact everyone's acting as if he did absolutely infuriates them. They've become conspiracy theorists, absolutely convinced they're right and latching onto any "supporting evidence," no matter how insignificant or irrational, to prove their point. For now, they're content to display their discontent by shutting down town hall meetings and putting the worst possible spin on everything Obama does. Give it time. Things continue as they are, I guaran-damn-TEE you we'll see a modern-day John Wilkes Booth. Whether or not he'll be successful is anyone's guess, but someone will definitely try. If you don't think it can happen, ask George Tiller.

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I'm in complete agreement, Woody. You pretty much summed up what this cynic has thought for a long time.


Years ago, I started using the mental exercise of taking a (usually political) social situation and removing all the labels from all the participants. Then I look only at the behavior patterns. I picture groups of faceless store-window mannequins who are doing all the same actions of the real people they represent. Often, it's damn hard to tell the difference between the groups.


But then, I'm just cynical.

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Great rant, Woody.


I got wonder: at what point does cynicism become nihilism?

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Well gosh, welcome to American politics, Captain Obvious! But it would be unwise to lump everyone who opposes Obama's policies into one entity. Many of the opposition are independents who voted for Obama, but dislike his left-lurch and fear the government takeover of large swaths of the economy.


Just about everything you said can apply to the left during the "last eight years". You had people believing that 9/11 was "an inside job", that Bush had agents set off explosions in the N.O. levees, that Bush wasn't going to leave office, etc.


I look at the "I Pledge" video and realize its the counter-part of rightist fundies like you saw in the film "Jesus Camp", the latter seeing Bush as God's man in the White House, the former seeing Obama as the epitome of the Left's Highest Bundle of Virtues and Values with a Halo Slapped On.


But don't assume to much. I wrote in Ron Paul on my ballot, but was relieved when Obama won. I didn't want the crazy old man and his hot fundy running mate at the helm of state. But as the months passed, I saw that Obama was taking the country in a direction that I think is wrong. Surely I'm not the only one out there like this.

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