Friday, October 12, 2007

The Hunting of the Snark

Lewis Carroll coined the term "snark". Of course the "snark" of the blogs is a very different animal. It's a form of sarcasm or irony, a fairly vigorous one, sometimes approaching hostility, and it can be lots of fun, especially after years of the milquetoast writing that most of the liberal/progressive mainstream pundits have offered us.

But I'm beginning to suffer from snark fatigue. In the past reading a good chunk of snark gave me that little belly tickle and the laugh that follows it. It was warming, heartening, enlivening. Take that! I'd mutter into my beard, while reading some especially nice piece taking down some puffed-up conservative writer. Finally someone was standing up for us meek who never inherited the earth.

I want that feeling back. Right now I'm overdosed on snark, and much of it skates dangerously close to the kind of writing the Michelle Malkins of this world do. And yet, I don't quite agree with Kevin Drum when he approves of this quote from Nordhaus and Shellenberger:

In America, the political left and political right have conspired to create a culture and politics of victimization, and all the benefits of resentment and cynicism have accrued to the right. That's because resentment and apocalypse are weapons that can be used only to advance a politics of resentment and apocalypse. They are the weapons of the reactionary and the conservative — of people who fear and resist the future. Just as environmentalists believe they can create a great ecological politics out of apocalypse, liberals believe they can create a great progressive politics out of resentment; they cannot. Grievance and victimization make us smaller and less generous and can thus serve only reactionaries and conservatives.

Isn't resentment a human emotion, not just limited to conservatives? And does it have to make a person smaller and less generous? I can imagine resentment based on real injustices done in the past, injustices which are not corrected because the person or the group who suffered from them is powerless. Such a resentment looks pretty justified to me.

Likewise, if you have been mugged or raped you are a victim of a crime. You don't "victimize" yourself on some sort of a pretext in these examples, although of course people do use the victim status in some cases where they are pretty obviously not victims. The prime example of the latter is the argument that Christians are oppressed in the United States.

Isn't the real question here twofold: First, are the feelings the quote describe justifed, and, second, what does one do in consequence of those feelings?

In any case, liberals and progressives don't come with angel wings already attached.

Not sure what I'm trying to say here. Just thinking aloud.