From Sean O’Neal at the A.V. Club:
Parker and Stone have spent two decades preaching a philosophy of pragmatic self-reliance, a distrust of elitism, in all its compartmentalized forms, and a virulent dislike of anything that smacks of dogma, be it organized religion, the way society polices itself, or whatever George Clooney is on his high horse about. Theirs can be a tricky ideology to pin down: “I hate conservatives, but I really fucking hate liberals,” Stone said once, a quote that has reverberated across the scores of articles, books, and message-board forums spent trying to parse the duo’s politics, arguing over which side can rightfully claim South Park as its own. Nominally, Parker and Stone are libertarians, professing a straight-down-the-middle empathy for the little guy who just wants to be left alone by meddling political and cultural forces. But their only true allegiance is to whatever is funniest; their only tenet is that everything and everyone has the potential to suck equally. More than anything, they’ve taught their most devoted followers that taking anything too seriously is hella lame.
So while they’ve advocated, in their own fucked-up way, for stuff like the right to abortion, drug legalization, and general tolerance for others, they’ve also found their biggest, easiest targets in liberalism’s pet causes, those formerly rebellious ideals that had become safely sitcom-bland over the Bill Clinton years—all of which were steeped in actually, lamely caring about stuff. Taking the piss out of the era’s priggish, speech-policing, Earth Day-brainwashed hippies was the most transgressive—and therefore funniest—thing you could possibly do. And so, South Park joked, global warming is just a dumb myth perpetrated by “super cereal” losers. Prius drivers are smug douches who love the smell of their own farts. Vegetarians end up growing vaginas on their face. “Transgender people” are just mixed-up, surgical abominations. The word “fag” is fine. Casual anti-Semitism is all in good fun. “Hate crimes” are silly. Maybe all you pussies just need a safe space.
“Did South Park accidentally invent the alt-right?” Janan Ganesh asked recently in the Financial Times, articulating a theory that began gaining traction as an entire political movement seemed to crystallize around the show’s “anti-PC chic” and general fuck-your-feelings attitude. Way back in 2001, political blogger Andrew Sullivan had already coined the term “South Park Republican” to describe the supposedly emerging group of young people who, like the show, were moderate on social issues like abortion and gay marriage, but also rejected the stuffy doctrines of diversity and environmentalism. They also believed, as Parker and Stone would soon illustrate in Team America: World Police, that the world needed American dicks to fuck assholes, over the objections of liberal pussies and F.A.G. celebrities. That voting bloc never actually materialized—though to be fair, the show was only four years old at the time. It would take at least another decade of people with Cartman avatars just joshin’ about hating Jews before the South Park generation would truly come of age.
At the risk of being criticized for espousing identity politics, so much of what’s happened over the past year or so is a function of resentment and greater indifference. And we will never be able to move forward or deal with it if we don’t confront it. Because, otherwise, it’s either ignored or shuffled away as being another example of both sides sucking so we don’t need to care.
A little while back, I wrote about faith-based films and the dominant theme present in most of them: persecution. Prevalent in almost all of them is the idea of being surrounded by forces who threaten everything people claim to hold dear. If one watches those movies, government is out to get Jesus, the media is out to get Jesus, and everything of this man-made world is a corruption. It makes no difference that Jesus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and his followers are among the most wealthy and powerful in our society. It makes no difference there’s a mega-church around almost every block and references to Christianity almost everywhere in our culture. The fact someone used the term “season’s greetings” or didn’t mention Christmas at Starbucks is proof of being aggrieved.
Just as we’ve found out a lot during this presidency, reality becomes what people want to believe.
We’re gonna “Make America Great Again,” because political correctness, immigrants, and liberal regulations are destroying our way of life, and ANY information to the contrary facts can be fucking damned. It’s the same persecution complex above extended out as the same function of white and male resentment, where science, the media, and intellectuals are a threat to a way of life that’s not really threatened. It’s the reason some twenty-something software engineer can write a 10-page memo of gobbledigook bullshit about PC bias and inherent biological sexism, and the alt-right will embrace it to explain away all the women who just want an equal chance to a job.
The wealth of the average white family still dwarfs that of the average African-American family. The black jobless rate is about double that of the white one. Black men are disproportionately killed by police officers. Black children are more likely than white ones to attend high-poverty schools … It’s easier for many whites to convince themselves that the problem isn’t racism, it’s “reverse racism.” (Affirmative action, which gives African-Americans and other minority groups an advantage in college admissions, hiring and other areas, comes under particular fire from many conservatives.) This strain of white identity politics, which sees white people as the group in need of special protection, is relatively new. In 2005, 6 percent of both Republicans and Democrats thought white Americans experienced “a great deal” of discrimination, according to a Pew Research Center survey. In 2016, the share of Republicans had jumped to 18 percent, while Democrats ticked up only slightly to 9 percent. Forty-nine percent of Republicans — compared to just 29 percent of Democrats — said whites face at least “some” discrimination.
A significant portion of this country decided to hand things over to a liar and alleged sexual predator, who’s spent a good bit of his life insulting, degrading, and scapegoating millions of people whose only “crime” was being of a different ethnicity or religion. And that became so because for some people, it’s easier to think someone else, who’s usually a minority, has a hand in their pocket than to look in a mirror and accept responsibility for their own life and their circumstances. It’s true not everyone who supports this president is a self-declared white nationalist, but they don’t really need to be. For many of those who’ve supported the policies Trump has championed, their indifference to the suffering and damage of this administration marks them just as much as a swastika tattoo or white hoods over their heads.
So when Trump refuses to condemn Nazis and the Klan, it’s not a surprise. It’s a feature to those who get their kicks from thinking that somewhere, a liberal is upset. And while some feel we’re not supposed to talk about these things because a bunch of middle-aged white guys might get their fee-fees hurt by asking them to check their privilege, here we are.
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