Boy Thinking, or Rich Inner Lives

The photo’s not the best, I just thought “hostage event parking” was sort of funny. The institution where I work is home to a well-known center that trains hostage negotiators, SWAT personnel, law enforcement first responders, and their ilk. Said center is hosting a big conference right now. So big it took me a lot longer than usual to find parking amidst all the police vehicles and rent-a-cars. I thought to myself, damn I hope there aren’t any real life hostage situations or shootings anywhere because all the people who know what to do in a situation like that seem to be occupied.


The more I learn about these experienced and well-trained people, the more grateful I am for their service, their knowledge, and commitment to a calm, measured response.

And what really scares me about any kind of dramatic and dangerous crisis is this: there are plenty of folks who justthink they know what to do. Because they’ve been waiting for just such a crisis, be it a hostage situation, a campus shooter, or full scale terrorist invasion. There are far too many regular civilians out there whose inexperience and lack of training doesn’t keep them from imagining something like that, longing for it even. That came to mind after reading this bySteve M.

I see this among gun zealots — some people simply like guns, or like
hunting, or legitimately need a gun for protection, but then there are
those who utterly
savor the notion that marauding hordes of
criminals (1980s version) or jackbooted big-gummint fascists (modern
version) will invade the Real America, and only handguns will prevent
Good People from having to submit to Evil.

But Steve isn’t talking about just any ordinary garden variety freepers here. The post is about the recent New York Times profile of Roger Ailes. About howwhen, not if, al Quaeda invades Fox News Headquarters, Roger (and one can only assume, Hannity, Doocy, and I guess Palin now) are going to stay and fight off the brown hordes, mano a mano.

But, see, Ailes here isn’t just expressing his fears — he’s expressing hisfantasies. Hewants
to see himself as a guy al-Qaeda would like to target, and he wants to
see himself as a guy who’d kick al-Qaeda’s ass. It’s fear, but it’s
also daydreaming.

And yeah, that’s a hoot. Sort of. Okay, not so much.

This fantasy was dangerous enough a generation ago when it was just a
law-and-order pipe dream; now, in its politicized form, it’s
practically the entire belief system of the tea party movement, with
the caveat that the teabaggers
might not need to lock-‘n’-load
if the next couple of election cycles go the right way. But it’s all
about imagining yourself as a hero, as a tough guy, as someone whose
life has real meaning. It’s boy thinking. And it’s a major undercurrent
of our politics.

Yeah, sure, this isn’t new. We talk about it a lot. Hell, Tommy‘s made a vocation of it. But there is a significant distinction that we can’t ever lose track of, and that we need to fight hard to strategically exploit. We knew they would go nuts if they lost, that they’d raise hell, but the extent to which the crazy has taken over, is driving their bus, isn’t diminishing, and lord knows the media isn’t going to help us, because freak shows make great entertainment.

This isn’t about mere wingnuttery. It’s not just macho posturing. It’s mayhem they want.


8 thoughts on “Boy Thinking, or Rich Inner Lives

  1. Thanks for the observations. I’ve also been wondering about the sheer lunacy behind winger posturing. To hazard a guess, the pathetic rage of the impotent, politically, or perhaps literally with Ailes himself (and I’ll leave it at that.)
    Unfortunately, the potential for additional violence is significant — most of these Walter Mitty wannabees are closer to Barney Fife in reality…except they aren’t ordered to keep their single bullet in their shirt pocket.
    Lord only knows how much more tragic something like the Virginia Tech murders might be if some incompetent yet heavily armed clown, well-meaning or not, misses the bad guy…
    On a broader level, the same sort of macho posturing is essentially a desire for even more violence or terrorism…sort of like Israel/Palestine, but on steroids.
    What a world to want to leave to your kids…

  2. I’ve been noodling around with the possibility that the corporate minds providing the guidance to the teabaggers and the money necessary to build some organizing infrastructure for them may have ulterior motives. It’s possible that they know that tapping into that anger and promoting a constant emphasis on guns and defense against a “socialist, Nazi, communist” (take your pick, or all three) government is likely to result in a seemingly spontaneous display of open armed resistance which the right wing can then exploit.
    If they were able to create some new Waco-like incident, I’d bet a steak dinner to a doughnut that the Obama administration would overreact in ways similar to the ways in which the Clinton administration did and, in the current climate, that would probably precipitate even more incidents.
    That sort of civil strife would give them many, many opportunities to portray the federal government under Obama as totalitarian, thus setting in motion a self-fulfilling series of justifications which would provide a platform plank for extreme right-wing politicians in 2010 and 2012 elections.
    Waco is ignored in most of the assessments of the Republican takeover of Congress, and yet, it pushed many of the followers of right-wing authoritarians even further to the right. It wasn’t the only reason for the takeover, but, I think, it counted more than strategists credit.

  3. I support gun ownership because America is way too authoritarian, and I do not trust the US government to act with anything like justice if the shit hits the fan (although, if that really happened, most soldier would be at home protecting their families. Most wouldn’t even show up for work). I don’t get why these folks yearn for the kind of scenario that terrifies me. Civil wars are hard, they are brutal, and full of rape, torture and massacre. Children can be forgiven for fantasizing about the end of days, and maybe some adults should take precautions. Only an idiot cheers on the destructive of civilization, the rise of fascism, or total anarchy.

  4. A lot of these Malakas think “Red Dawn” was actual history on the silver screen. Instead of the insane teen hunk romp vehicle for Patrick Swaze, Charlie Sheen and C Thomas Howell. (And who could forget Leah Thompson?)
    Like so many others in our addled country, they mistake the circus acts for reality.

  5. Lord only knows how much more tragic something like the Virginia Tech murders might be if some incompetent yet heavily armed clown, well-meaning or not, misses the bad guy.
    A few years back I was on a Law and Order message board when the L&O episode based on Marc Lepine’s rampage at the Université de Montréal was aired. The story was changed so that the shooting took place at an outdoor site instead of in a classroom. The shooter shot his victims in full view of other bystanders.
    One guy on the board was bloviating about how an armed civilian (such as himself of course) could have taken the shooter out. Turned out that this guy couldn’t remember half the details of the episode — what the shooter looked like and where he went, how many victims, when the police arrived — he had all of these wrong.
    This was a guy who was sitting down to watch a TV showexpecting to see a violent incident, fully focused on the scene. And he still couldn’t comprehend what was going on.
    I pointed this out to him and informed him that I would rather take my chances with the crazy shooter than a bunch of confused citizens shooting at the wrong people. He didn’t reply for some reason.

  6. MaryRC,
    There was a lot of that line of reasoning being trotted out in Texas last year when a bill was being considered that would have lifted the “gun free zone” status of university campus, allowing non-police civilians with carry permits to bring their guns onto campus and into classrooms. Even the sponsors of the bill were using it. And to be fair, there are probably a few people who could and would know how to react and be an effective in a crisis situation, but the majority would not.

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