Friday, July 3, 2009

Fireworks: Imperialistic, Or Just Boring?

I was over at my conservative counterpart Donald Douglas' site American Power a short while ago (relax, I'm not trying to reignite our mutual conflagration) where I read his latest post "Fireworks Suck: This Year's Leftist Attack on Independence Day". It's pretty much what you'd expect: A few people on the left like Slate.com are saying fairly stupid things like this:

... the professional fireworks display is an exercise in pomposity, aggression, triumphalism, and hubris. The pyrotechnician—and, more importantly, his patron—intends to ornament the night sky beyond the powers of God himself. He means to inspire awe for little purpose other than to demonstrate his power. The first great fireworks nuts in the Western world were Peter the Great (who put on a five-hour show to celebrate the birth of his first son) and Louis XIV (who, with a specially equipped sundial, used them to tell time at Versailles). Fireworks are imperialist and, as we used to say in school, hegemonic. That they are popularly believed to be populist entertainment does not say much for the populace.
To which sentiments Don hyperbolically ascribes the endorsement of everyone on the political left in this country (it's "anti-Americanism", they all think that America is "a rascist imperialist abomination", blah, blah, blah). As I said, pretty much what you'd expect. But my main reason for this post is to showcase some of the more entertaining bloviations from Don's loyal cadre of readers (in the second update to my "apology" post I mentioned how delusional some of these people were in their assessments of the recent blog war between Don and myself; these fireworks comments are much better reading).

The first is from one Douglas V. Gibbs (I'm not sure if that's his actual name or a favorite court case):
Lefties hate fireworks because they don't understand them, and they don't understand them, because in the simplest terms, they represent (on Independence Day) the blood of patriots, and the fight for liberty. Knowing the symbolism of those fireworks, and listening to the patriotic tunes playing, brings tears to my eyes. The Leftist doesn't see the birth of this nation as a good thing, but rather as a pariah brought upon the world.
Wow, Doug sure has my number. I've always wondered why I've never been able to understand fireworks but now I know that it's because I can't relate to patriotism or the fight for liberty because I vote differently than Doug. Notice also that he does not say "some Lefties" or point to any specific examples, just a blanket declaration that anyone who's a liberal also thinks that the birth of America was a bad thing. Doug is smart.

Next up is my man Dave C who's own commentary, while just as narrow-minded as Doug's, is nonetheless a bit more pithy:
People who don't like fireworks are pussies. Excuse the french.
A simple statement from a simple man, something we can all appreciate. But my favorite comments were these two bon mots from Reliapundit (who for some reason restricted access to his Blogger profile while I was writing this post), someone who even Don has had to caution to take it easy from time to time in the past. Here's the first of them:
...actually, childrem love 'em.

so, not loving them is a sign of brainwashing by postmodernism later in life.

i wonder if the left hates them on new year's eve?
Yes, if you are an adult and you don't love fireworks you've been brainwashed by postmodernism. Never mind that most people were just a bit more slack-jawed watching fireworks in the 1950's because there was a lot less quality and technological entertainment competing for their attention, it's just natural to love them if you're an American and if you do not you've obviously been brainwashed. But wait, it gets better:
i also love ho when lefties drop the mask they reveal how much the hate the little people - the "populace".

palin, nascar, beer, the flag - and fireworks.

the left claims that the populace is inauthentic, and what??? that THEY are the authentic people!?

postmodernism is the opiate of the intellectuals.
Now first, maybe I've done too many drugs in my past but I've always thought that opium was the opiate of the intellectuals. And second, who said that the populace is inauthentic? Populist strawman, anyone? Regardless, the former statements are what interest me more in that they go a long way towards explaining the apparent popularity of now resigned Alaskan governor Sarah Palin, especially during the last presidential election.

Many on the right, and the McCain-Palin campaign last year especially, have built up their support amongst the lower and middle classes by perpetuating and exploiting the meme that the political left in this country doesn't care about them (not so effectively to have won the last election, but still...), that they even resent them, their culture and their small-town ways. That the political left hates "real America". Hell, I myself freely admit to having in the past made fun of Palin, NASCAR, Coors Light and the various people who enjoy those things. Does it mean that I'm going to invite them all over to my house to sit on a couch on my front lawn to shoot tin cans? No, obviously not. But does it also mean that I don't care about their rights and their well-being and that I could give two shits about them and their families? No, also obviously not (but of course there are elections to be won and turning Americans against one another has been shown to be an effective strategy towards that end).

On a related note, one of my favorite lines from the movie Gladiator is this exchange when one of the more intellectual Roman senators arrives at the newly commissioned gladiatorial games and receives a surprised welcome from his other colleagues for attending such a base, populist exhibition:
- Senator Gaius.

- Hello, Senator Gracchus.

- Don't often see you enjoying the pleasures of the vulgar crowd.

- I don't pretend to be a man of the people, Senator... but I do try to be a man for the people.
Well said. What many on the hard-core right in this country fail to grasp is that just because someone doesn't like to hunt or fish or watch cars drive in a circle or even attend fireworks displays doesn't mean that they don't like you, or even that they're a bad American. It just means that they have different interests from you and that they're also an American, just like you are. Thus I take heart in my continued belief that the type of people who for the most part frequent and comment at Don's blog are not representative of most of conservative America or its values, and Buddha help us all if they are.

[Update: It just occurred to me that I failed to make my own views on organized fireworks displays known above so here they are: Admittedly I find them fairly boring (don't worry, I have no children to traumatize by not taking them to a fireworks display but rest assured that if I did I would dutifully attend one every year) although with enough alcohol and maybe a bit of cannabis to enhance the experience they can become quite entertaining once again, and in the end aren't those two things just as much American traditions as fireworks themselves? Enjoy your 4th everyone.]


JoeBama "Truth 101" Kelly said...

You are indeed a lucky man JBW. As a father and uncle it is my duty to take a vanload of kids to every freaking fireworks display in western Illinois. God bless America.

JoeBama "Truth 101" Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
magpie said...

Hmm. yeah I agree with AmPow that what he is quoting is nonsense.

Sorry did I miss the part where fireworks are used all over the world and originated in ancient China? It's special effects and pretty colors. That's all it is.

I particularly dislike "The pyrotechnician—and, more importantly, his patron—intends to ornament the night sky beyond the powers of God himself." Because if you're going to delegate the authority to create a good time to anyone... please don't let it be a bunch of priests.

The Original David said...

I too find fireworks a bit boring these days, but I'd have been disappointed had I not seen them every year as a kid. This year, though, I had a different perspective.

I live in the vicinity of the LA Coliseum, technically a part of South Central. The neighborhood is ethnically mixed and includes a lot of folks still aspiring to be legal US citizens. The celebration here was full-on, and any thing but safe and sane. Black, Latino, Asian, and White, *everyone* had the grills going, the kids out running around and the illegal pyrotechnics blazing. (There may have been some other blazing as well.) And South Central does not have a backyard culture. Here it all happens in the front yard and/or on the street.

The 20 minute walk to the Coliseum was a little nervous. There was ordnance flying everywhere. For supposedly poor people, the neighbors seem to have plenty of disposable income for celebrating in style.

The municipal display was a bit too long at 60 minutes, but the redonkulous finale made up for it. At the same time, I was accompanied by a person who was watching their first 4th display as a US citizen and we were surrounded by immigrant families. Forget the patriotic music; you get the real spirit when you watch the display accompanied by commentary in Korean and Spanish.

I'm sure that few of my neighbors would qualify as Real Americans(TM) by the standards of the kind of people who read that other guy's blog, but I'd like to see them come down hear and tell them that to their faces.