Sunday, November 18, 2012

David Simon on "The Death of Normal"

I'll always want to listen when David Simon - creator of HBO's The Wire - speaks. But I especially appreciated his take on the meaning of this election.
...the country is changing. And this may be the last election in which anyone but a fool tries to play — on a national level, at least — the cards of racial exclusion, of immigrant fear, of the patronization of women and hegemony over their bodies, of self-righteous discrimination against homosexuals...

America will soon belong to the men and women — white and black and Latino and Asian, Christian and Jew and Muslim and atheist, gay and straight — who can walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that they are in a world of certain difference, that there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions. The America in which it was otherwise is dying, thank god, and those who relied on entitlement and division to command power will either be obliged to accept the changes, or retreat to the gated communities from which they wish to wax nostalgic and brood on political irrelevance.

You want to lead in America? Find a way to be entirely utilitarian — to address the most problems on behalf of the most possible citizens. That works. That matters...

Hard times are still to come for all of us. Rear guard actions will be fought at every political crossroad. But make no mistake: Change is a motherfucker when you run from it. And right now, the conservative movement in America is fleeing from dramatic change that is certain and immutable. A man of color is president for the second time, and this happened despite a struggling economic climate and a national spirit of general discontent. He has been returned to office over the specific objections of the mass of white men. He has instead been re-elected by women, by people of color, by homosexuals, by people of varying religions or no religion whatsoever. Behold the New Jerusalem...

Regardless of what happens with his second term, Barack Obama’s great victory has already been won: We are all the other now, in some sense. Special interests? That term has no more meaning in the New America. We are all — all of us, every last American, even the whitest of white guys — special interests. And now, normal isn’t white or straight or Christian. There is no normal. That word, too, means less with every moment. And those who continue to argue for such retrograde notions as a political reality will become less germane and more ridiculous with every passing year.
Now...go read the whole thing.

2 comments:

  1. America will soon belong to the men and women — white and black and Latino and Asian, Christian and Jew and Muslim and atheist, gay and straight — who can walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that they are in a world of certain difference, that there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions.

    Having grown up in one of the most diverse urban areas in the country, it took me a long time to realize that there are a lot of people who really aren't like this, who genuinely can't stand the presence or, really, the existence of anyone different. The quote is very true, though. The right wing is trying to re-assert the supremacy of a monoculture, and the more narrowly-defined it is, the more people cannot vote for it because it excludes them. I'm white, but the right-wing monoculture would exclude me on other grounds. Voting for them was never an option to even consider.

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  2. Really great piece by Simon. I loved the Wire, and look forward to watching Treme. I've read some good critique of the Wire from a left perspective, but damn if it isn't the most incisive thing I've seen on TV about capitalism. That is what it's about. Capitalism, in its particulars here in the US.

    Racism has held this country back since before its inception, and that in turn has held our world back. Racism is not going to disappear, but Simon's point about pluralities and coalitions is as hopeful to me as it is obviously correct.

    I sincerely hope the right gets on board, because I don't expect that there won't be a right in my lifetime. We need a right that doesn't stick in the past, as oxymoronic as that is. They won't get real any time soon, to be sure but maybe in 10 or 20 years.

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