Sunday, January 01, 2012

2012 [updated]

Back in the olden days I used to sit alone by the Christmas tree (the family having packed it in) as one year passed into the next, and write down my reflections, usually melancholy, about the onward march of time. Later this habit passed from ink and paper to electronic media, but the ritual remained the same.

This year I decided not to think. I cast about on the internet for various things, went to Facebook and enjoyed the 6.5 minutes of a fine Te Deum a friend had posted, and then turned on the TV to see if there was anything worth watching before calling it a day and a year.

As luck (or something else) would have it, one station was playing what is probably an appropriate choice of film as we face the challenges of 2012:
The Two Towers, part deux of the Lord of the Rings trilogy -- the one where adventure turns to near despair. I was tired and wondered if I had it in me to commit to watching out the end of it, since it was just at the moment when the Orcs, riding their bat-&-boar-faced wolverine/hyena/dingo-like Wargs, attack the almost defenseless Rohirrim. But I was drawn into the action, having had in mind for much of the day the prospect of the Western World backed into a corner like the denizens of Helm's Deep.

This desperate confrontation is always chilling and draining to watch, more for the palpable despair among the bravest of warriors than for the violence of the battle itself. Pile up a few of the day's global headlines in recent months, and one feels a similar sense of "the end of all things" looming closely as the fatter and less industrious hobbits and trolls of Europe and North America scramble about and squabble over acorns.

What just months ago might have had the potential for being the bold stand of the Fellowship against the tide of chaos -- that is, if you'll bear with me, the field of Republican Presidential aspirants preparing to face off against Obama -- risks devolving into a nasty quarrel among trolls and garden gnomes, all too small to reach the stature of the contested office.

Surely none of them so small as the incumbent -- small in character and empathy and imagination, if not in power and raw ambition. Small and bloodless and ideologically calculating while politically obtuse. Where we needed an Aragorn, or at least of Faramir of some ilk, to stand against this chilly, feckless little golem, we may have to make do with some blustering troll or wannabe elf all wrapped up in a shiny foil wrapper, bruised and tatty from a primary smackdown. Yuck.

Leaving aside all these cutesie little metaphors and analogs, what the replay of Helm's Deep really brings most sharply to mind is the image of the seemingly endless waves of slathering, blood-starved, malconceived Orcs, descending upon the noble remnant with its back against the wall. It was an image branded upon the turn of the year 2005/6, and again 2008/9, and once again suggests itself now in precisely the same terms.

Once again, the ORC, in all its threatening savagery, does NOT stand for the Nazis or the Taliban or the Muslim brotherhood or the drug lords, the pirates, or even the Democrats -- it never did. As it ever was, the ORC is the embodiment of the LIE.

I mourned its
total triumph in 2008, even though, in a sense, the lies of 2005 were more insidious. The lies of 2008 were gargantuan, bloated, and almost comical in their obviousness, but in the end they have done more damage -- and if they are not laid to rest within a year's time, their consequences may take generations to undo.

Yet here we are, poised for another round of assaults by the armies of the LIE, prepared to double down their efforts and dig their roots deeper into the public landscape, out of stubborn refusal to admit their own madness of four years ago. When I read back to my 2008 Orc-based post, it almost seems naive in its under-estimation of the potential for the official and auxiliary (press) Obama administrations to wreak havoc on the American nation through hapless and rigid adherence to perverse ideology, and through its ruthlessly thuggish application. It is hard to fathom how anyone so fundamentally vacant could turn out, in his own way, to be so effective.

And if we thought we saw the Year of the Lie in full flower in 2008, we ain't seen nothin' yet. The pundits always say it, but this year it is true that we are in the political fight of our lives, and the future of the American nation (and that of all its allies and dependents) hangs in the balance. The stakes have not been higher since the Cold War got hot. The hordes are poised to descend, having laid down covering fire from their bunkers for the past three years -- sample it here among the Top Ten 2011 examples of Media Malfeasance. It's only going to get uglier.

Further on the Media Malfeasance theme: wise fellow Victor Davis Hanson reflects on some "No News" stories of the recent past.