Touche times two
: Reaction to the Coleen Rowley post below from Patrick Nielsen Hayden et al (see also Yglesias).
I’m accused of being an East Coast snob (and I see why) even if I am a Midwesterner myself.
OK, fine, so I’m a snob. But I still found Rowley somewhat insufferable. She may be right. Her bosses may all be bozos. But I’d hate to be stuck on an elevator with her as she explains to me how to hit the buttons.
: More: Andrea Harris attacks (if nicely).
: Folks: It’s not her twang or glasses or gettup or gender that makes her insufferable. It’s her. You watch the tape of her testimony and then tell me that if she worked in the cubicle next to you, you wouldn’t roll your eyes behind her back; you wouldn’t dread her next opinion; you wouldn’t make fun of her in email.
As mad as I am at the FBI for f’ing this all up so badly, I have to say that I’m not sure I would have listened to Rowley. She’s hard to listen to. She strikes me as the agent who whines wolf.
: Took my daughter to see Spirit today. Can’t start too soon training girls to like chick flicks.
: Not a bad movie; emotionally smooshy but still exciting in many spots.
But since when did the white settlers and citizens become so thoroughly, utterly, completely evil? OK, there were some bad guys among them — among us — and we did some bad things.
But what’s going to happen to this generation’s American self-image? Shouldn’t they at least watch F Troop, too; shouldn’t we all try to lighten up?
Will it soon be necessary to have white appreciation courses to counteract a generation of training in racial, cultural, historical self-loathing?
We’re treating the history of the West not unlike the way the Germans treat the history of World War II: as a big whisper. Isn’t that overkill?
Political correctness is just another form of oppression.
: After the movie, my daughter and I went to the nearby Starbucks (Lileks is more of a real American; he and his daughter go to the cookie place in the mall). This theater and this Starbucks are in the richest town around (I don’t live there); very society, very overpriced, very old, very big-house, mostly white … on this side of town.
So anyway, the white chick behind the counter asks the black guy behind the counter whether he’s “into Enimen.” He shrugs and answers politely and without commitment; she’s dabbling in real-time stereotyping: you’re black, you must like rap, even if it comes from a white guy. The guy lets it pass.
But he’s not off the hook yet. Next the white, tennis-mom customer ahead of me picks up the thread and asks the guy behind the counter what he thinks of Enimem and whether he has the new CD and whether he thinks she should get it for her 13-year-old daughter, yaketty yak. If I were him, I’d be tempted to say “yes” just to try to corrupt the youth of this Richville. But he’s nicer than I am. He says the daughter is likely to hear it anyway but he’s not sure he’d buy it for her because “Eminem likes controversy.” Deftly put.
I’m not sure whether he’s more embarrassed owning the Eminem CD or being presumed by sight to be a rap expert.
I felt as if I were watching a game of racial 3D chess; can’t tell the players without a color code.
: When I grew up, we were taught that the ideal state of being was colorblindness; I was proud of my parents that they had shucked their racist upbringings and taught us otherwise; back then, the melting pot was the ultimate American valhalla, whether we truly believed it or not.
Of course, the melting pot is dead.
Instead of a smooth racial roux we are a chunky ethnic stew.
Ethnic pride trumps assimilation — leaving melting-pot babies like me out in the cold (I am such a mix of ethnic everything — English, Irish, Scotch, German, and hillbilly fill-in-the-blank — that I have no root, no core, no identity other than “American” and that’s what I say on the census forms, damnit).
: I just wish that a kiddie movie about a wild horse in the old West didn’t have to overcompensate for cowboy-and-Indian (pardon me, cowperson-and-Native-American) history.
I wish white people in Starbucks weren’t so obvious and embarrassing.
I wish that we could carry on one legacy of 9/11:
On 9/12, Americans of every background and ethnicity started flying the American flag. We were defiantly proud about our nationality. People started taking pride in what we are today — American — over pride in what we happened to have been yesterday.
I used to think that nationalism is dangerous — and it can be. But the lesson of our era has to be that allegiance to ethnicity and religion is more dangerous: witness Palestine and Pakistan and most anywhere that Muslims have neighbors.
I am American and white and as meltable as Velveeta and I’m just find with that.
A Republican solution
: I’ve come to see that George Bush took a pure Republican path in setting up the Department of Homeland Security: He didn’t want to add a single headcount. So he threw together anything that remotely fit under a security umbrella — even if only occasionally (most of the work of the Coast Goard, Customs, and FEMA have bupkus to do with security).
Meanwhile, he didn’t fix the FBI, which is urgently necessary.
He didn’t fix the CIA.
He didn’t bash their heads together.
He didn’t take the ballsy move of creating something new — for that might have meant new headcount and, like a corporate executive managing a downturn, headcount is evil.
But this is the wrong solution.
Nick Denton says Bush should have just handed over anti-terror security to the CIA but I say that won’t work here because we are paranoid about the CIA operating internally; we’d far rather have them creating coups among foreigners. We don’t have an MI5 in this country. We don’t want one.
No, Bush needed to create a Department of Homeland Security — I’ve been waiting for it to happen, to give us dedicated resources and accountability — but he should have created a new agency that took authority — full authority — for domestic security away from the FBI (at last) and shrunk the FBI accordingly; it should take chunks of other agencies if necessary; it should have the authority and resources to deploy manpower to do what the FBI has been f’ing up: getting intelligence and going after suspects to prevent attacks. Bush’s agency does not have the authority or the resources.
The hardest part of this for any agency is figuring out how to make it work with the CIA and share its secrets. That’s why God created bosses.