Dear Ideologist: America’s New War and Americans’ Selective Outrage

Pete Karman

(Illustration by Terry Laban )

Dear ITT Ideologist,

I see we’re at war again, this time in Libya. From Vietnam days, I’ve worried about being the last man to lie in a conflict. Could you quickly describe the dominant diegeses in this war so I can issue a timely soupcon of support I can later deny?

–John Kerry, Chairman, Senate, Foreign Relations Committee 

Dear Senator Kerry,

Imagine yourself a new car buyer. Do you want basic wheels, a sporty babe magnet, or an SUV in which to ride high and take up more space than you deserve? Now if you were just a plain, Prizm-piloting prole, the standard good guys vs. bad guys comic book justification for our latest war would do you just fine before you turn to the sports news. If you’re a manly, muscle car kind of guy, kicking foreign butt is reason enough to kick foreign butt. If you want a story with your Saab, we have an inspiring one about driving out dictators and delivering democracy via drone. 

For you Escaladers with the high and wide windshields who are able to ken the big picture, try our Power Point presentation about resource rivalry, commodity conflict and strategic advantage. I would indeed hurry in choosing my preferred causus belli. If you’ve noticed, pointless wars are becoming popular. They not only rely on drones but drone on endlessly with few paying any attention to their provenance or prospects.

Dear ITT Ideologist,

I see that there is selective outrage that snow plow chauffeurs, DMV clerks, trolley conductors and school crossing guards are battening at the public trough while solid tax payers like Charlie Sheen are cast jobless into the gutters of Beverly Hills. I know this has something to do with the money, but I can’t figure out quite what. Can you clue me in?

–Donald Trump, New York

Dear Mr. Trump,

Ah, the money. Like French spelling, it cannot be explained, but only learned. Americans are indoctrinated early in life by Parade magazine’s annual survey of how much money people make, taking it as a rule for how much they should make. In their minds, hedge fund managers, hospital administrators, short stops, trust fund brats and Bill Gates are hors de classe, meaning they are entitled to income with so many zeros attached that the numbers become a blur. 

On the other hand, veterinary assistants are permitted only a pittance. When tea baggers learned that some Americans, notably public employees such as those mentioned in your missive, have pensions in addition to their Parade-prescribed incomes, vexation went viral and the nation’s race to the bottom sped up.

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Pete Karman began working in journalism in 1957 at the awful New York Daily Mirror, where he wrote the first review of Bob Dylan for a New York paper. He lost that job after illegally traveling to Cuba (the rag failed shortly after he got the boot). Karman has reported and edited for various trade and trade union blats and worked as a copywriter. He was happy being a flack for Air France, but not as happy as being an on-and-off In These Times editor and contributor since 1977.
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