23 January 2009

inaugural waste and hypocricy [politics alert]

I've tried to keep politics out of this blog, except when it really matters. After thinking it over for two days now, I've decided this matters. If you're here for the book history and are offended by political discussion, please feel free to read no further.

Nothing boils my blood like hypocrisy, particularly political hypocrisy. In 2001 and 2005 we never heard the end of the waste of Bush's inauguration. I even wrote an article on it ("Inauguration Fascination: dissecting the romp and circumstance," in Get Underground magazine).

So where is all the outrage over the environmental disaster that was the Obama inauguration? I haven't heard a peep from the liberal blogs I follow -- in fact, some have dared to praise the inaugural committee for its "GREEN" values. Earth911.com, a website with the tagline: "Making Every Day Earth Day," got all giddy about -- get this -- the recycled carpet that Obama stood on.

Recycled carpets aren't going to save us. In fact, it's damn peanuts compared to the carbon footprint left by the environmentalist-only-when-it-suits-them celebrities flying across the country to party for a weekend. Or the 130 tons of waste -- much of, no doubt, cheap Obama goods -- strewn across the Mall. Or the phrase in Obama's speech that sent a chill down my spine: "We will not apologize for our way of life."

It's time to stop giving fuel to Fox News' fire. We don't need forks made out of corn (what is all that corn doing to the land, by the way? where does it come from?), or recycled paper tickets -- we need to stop consuming so many goddamn forks, and wasting so much paper!

It takes a tough leader to tell us what's hard to hear. Lifestyle changes aren't easy for anyone, but they're the only way we're going to starting crawling out of the hole we've dug ourselves into. This inauguration was an opportunity to make one giant leap forward toward a renewed America, one that no longer consumes beyond its means. Instead, I'm afraid it solidified all our old delusions.


peacay said...

Personally I see 2 perspectives and, you'll allow, one comes from being an observer from afar.

The consumption thing is of course important and does fly in the face of all the solemn speechifying about economic hardship(s) in recent times.

So of course, one ought to have expected that some scaling down of the inauguration shenanigans from the norm would be in evidence (in addition to the piecemeal wages freeze signed into effect on day one as a sign of solidarity or seriousness or the somesuch in relation to the dire plight of the economy).

However, it must be said that you guys are the bees knees of weird with this outrageous inauguration crap. I am tasked by the rest of the planet to express our collective "wtf America?!" in this regard.

You had more than a year of non-stop primaries and politicking and an eventual win (yay!) by Obama and every step of the way it has been hoopla, streamers and cake in celebration of the (bloody) process. The dude won: that ought to have been THE celebration. Why the hell do you have to have anything beyond a simple swearing-in ceremony??!

To the rest of us it makes the alleged anachronism of royalty look positively sedate and modern. This segues, for me, into the whole pattern of American politics that perversely seeks to raise it to the level of religion (with bipartisan and seemingly majority citizenry support). IT IS WEIRD. Stop celebrating your goddamned system!

We don't express such an opinion as a kind of euphemistic means of criticising the country, the people or even the political system itself. Rather, we all think it is both unbecoming and bizarre that you worship your institutions so rabidly, and particularly so when they are in fact all too often human.

Thus the hypocrisy of consumption would hardly be a consideration if a step back was taken and some reordering of priorities and attitude towards the bigger picture was supported. I have these last couple of months encountered gravel rash on my chin from been stupified by the inanity of all this outrageously wasetful inauguration palaver. It is absolutely over the top strange and we, the rest of the planet, kindly request that you rein it in from now on, m'k? Thanks.

Whitney said...

peacay, you are correct, and that was elegantly put. I think a lot of my cautious pessimism about Obama has to do with my distrust of all government, any government, and particularly a government that celebrates its governance and its ability to govern to such an extent that it no longer effectively carries out the very function it celebrates.

I didn't kvetch (second time I've gotten to use that word this week, it must be one for complaining!) much about the religious or imperial aspects of the inauguration in my post, but they upset me more than the environmental issue. The religion aspect is hard to talk about publicly, since it's still such a touchy subject for a lot of people, but I would love to see an American president -- hell, an American POLITICIAN -- who feels comfortable admitting to his or her atheism. The American Atheist society is falling all over itself to thank Obama for mentioning "nonbelievers" in his speech, but you know what? Peanuts. Again.

The environmental issue is an easy one for most people to get, to agree with, but really the whole thing was an exercise in solidifying our delusions. Here's what I learned: it's okay to be imperialist if your cause is "just" (according to whom, I wonder..); it's okay to waste, as long as you recycle the paper; it's okay to mention Jesus and God and have 10 million prayers, as long as you toss in a mention of "non-believers"; and AMERICA STILL RULES SCREW YOU IF YOU DON'T THINK SO WE'RE NUMBER ONE, WE'RE NUMBER ONE, WE'RE NUMBER ONE!!

You're exactly right to find the ceremony weird -- but what is even weirder is how the ceremony ends up negating all the values that actually make it worth celebrating to begin with.

peacay said...

--even weirder is how the ceremony ends up negating all the values that actually make it worth celebrating to begin with--

OK. That's an elegant phrase.

Just to clarify..

When I mentioned the religion thing I wasn't raising Religion, per se; rather, that institutions - particularly political ones - can appear from outside to have been raised to the level of worship-worthy cathedralesque, venerable, glorious, infallible, heavenly THINGS that are praised and celebrated etc as though they themselves were religious elements. But religion, as you say, has its own dimension of bizarrity in the US, but I thought I'd kicked enough shins with my first outburst so I will just nod in deference to what you say and otherwise abstain on that point. (I too can be a politician!)

{one last thing: the extent to which msm and webosphere go in trying to pedantically word-by-phrase analyse the inaugural speech is a bit much. Deeds over rhetoric people! Wait and watch!)