The problem with an anodyne explantion

The good thing about an anodyne explanation is that it does not stir conflict.   Anodyne explanations are calculated not to ruffle feathers, not to feed into controversy, not to piss anyone off.    

The bad thing about an anodyne explanation is that it must leave out certain things in order to remain inoffensive.   An anodyne explanation can never encompass the difficult parts of the truth about any problem that is vexing and hard to solve.   An anodyne explanation explains away deadly complications in the most inoffensive way.   Those deadly complications, as we know, persist, no matter how gently anodyne the explaining away is.  If these deadly complications don’t affect you directly, an anodyne explanation is fine.  If you are hurt by those complications, the anodyne rap will not leave your feelings as unruffled.

Anodyne:  we are family, family loves each other, you must forgive, we love you, you mustn’t be angry or renounce us, no matter what you think or feel.

Left out:  much violence takes place in families, the intimacy of families leads to as much anger and antipathy as love, we have a choice to forgive or not, based on all of the circumstances, including the sincerity of the apology, love is a beautiful thing, but it is one of several emotions at play here, perhaps I must renounce you, to save myself.  Can you think of one family without factions and outcasts?  I can name several in the closest circle of your loving family, now that I mention it.

Anodyne:  our democracy is a meritocracy that recognizes the inviolable truth that all men (and women) are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable human rights including the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.   We have a level playing field in our democracy because our commitment to equality of opportunity and freedom of expression for all are our highest values.   Every vote matters and every vote will be counted as we choose the very best candidates to represent us and rule according to our democratic wishes.

Less anodyne: Let us put aside the hundreds of slaves owned by the visionary men who signed on to those words, open any newspaper to the crime section, pull up the news on your phone, visit any penitentiary, look around.   Our meritocracy does indeed grant equality and freedom of expression, but not always in a fair manner, not always having anything to do with merit.  As far as freedom of speech, piles of secret money talk louder than any single individual in our nation and this unlimited “dark money” plays a bigger role in electoral outcomes than even the most inspiring candidate who does not have a sufficiently huge advertising budget.  Plus, don’t get me started about the voting laws, once the Supreme Court decided recently that racism is dead in the USA, with the Birther President’s undeniably mulatto predecessor and all, and therefore, fair is fair, let the states of the former Confederacy decide who can vote in state and federal elections.

Anodyne:  there is great equality and liberty and social mobility in our country, any child can grow up to be president, or become as rich and successful as he or she wants, provided she works really hard.

Less anodyne:   Every American kid loves to hear that, but the reality is, of course, a tad more complicated.    If you’re born poor, and have a stroke of good luck, you may have one chance to work your way out of poverty– and don’t screw it up because you will have the one shot and that’s it, loser.   If you are born wealthy you will not require luck to have as many chances as you need to succeed.   The small network of your fellow rich will do their best to ensure that you do not fail in the end.    You will be given everything you need to succeed, over and over.  You can mismanage and bankrupt countless businesses, take imbecilic business risks (and fail), embroil yourself in a dozen scandals, fuck up in every possible way, and your social network of fellow extremely wealthy people will find a way for you to succeed, if you are determined enough to keep at it, even if it takes fifty years or more.  

(Thank you Chris Hedges [1] for this insight about endless chances for the children of the rich to make good, and virtually none for the children of the poor, it is self-evident once you put it that way).

Anodyne: George H. W. Bush, Bush 41, was our last true gentleman president, civil, kind, decent, human.

Less anodyne:  George H. W. Bush was a child of privilege, son of wealthy senator Prescott Bush who invested in lucrative heavy industries that Hitler made sure were booming (in the rearmament and lead up to war) and kept those booming stocks, apparently, even after the U.S. entered the war against Hitler.   Patrician Prescott’s connections kept him out of trouble.   H.W. was not decent or kind to AIDS sufferers, who hate him to this day (though he was arguably civil) for his inaction in the early years of the deadly crisis. He told homosexuals that AIDS was a disease of their lifestyle choice and that they should stop being irrational and just stop the behavior (anal sex) and they wouldn’t get AIDS.   His armies slaughtered countless people in several bloody wars, including one in Panama, apparently launched to cover up some drug business between himself, when he was head of the CIA, and Manuel Noriega, who had been involved in the cocaine trade that financed many CIA ops.   He arguably obstructed justice by refusing to testify during the Iran-Contra scandal hearings and later, as president, pardoning everyone involved who had been indicted or convicted of anything,  bringing inquiry into the scandal to a clean and permanent end.  I remember him as a complete dick, a perfect clueless patrician twat, though he did sign the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, and was not as in-your-face psychopathic as this stinking pile of born privileged schitt we have in the Oval Office today,   Then again, nobody in public life has ever come close to stinking up the public sphere as much as this stubborn schitt stain currently soiling the office chairs in the White House.

For a definitive, completely un-anodyne discussion of George H.W. Bush’s legacy, check out Jeremy Scahill’s video tribute to the war criminal.

I note here that Jeremy, in the interest of time, does not even mention one of the cannonized Bush’s most horrific legacies, the crippling sanctions on once prosperous Iraq (which, even under a dictator, had free health care for its citizens) that killed uncounted persons over many years.  

Anodyne:  in the land of the free and the home of the brave the only people who claim there is a class war are the malcontents who don’t understand the real nature of our liberty loving society.   Most Americans recognize the beautiful and unparalleled opportunity and equality here, outside of Marxist-type agitators. 

Less:  (the above was not really anodyne, since it was opinionated in a way not designed to sidestep controversy, but onward)   In America there is actually less social mobility than in most other wealthy, developed countries.   The class you are born into is, in most cases, the class you will be in when you die (earlier for the poor, of course, but you get what you pay for here), though people do still escape from poverty or the working class and attain high profile positions that seem to argue that anyone, with enough hard work, can become Michael Jordan, LeBron, Jay-Z.

So, as we can easily see, an anodyne explanation is good for avoiding a fight, agreeing to disagree in an amiable way, simplifying, over-simplifying, walking on the sunny side, staying out of really aggravating terrain.  The New York Times is a long-time master of this anodyne, status quo supportive approach, in many cases.  

We can always set up a grotesque false equivalency to add punch to the anodyne position.  Is the Free Market better than a slave economy where employers are bound by no rules of any kind and are free to kill workers outright at any time?  Of course.   Is the Free Market we have in America, one that grants legal monopolies to certain corporations and huge taxpayer-funded subsidies to preserve already vast profits, truly a free market?   You fucking tell me, buddy.

Freedom is on the march, bitches, that’s all you need to know.  Have a very anodyne day!


[1]  Journalist Chris Hedges was a scholarship kid in an elite academy for the children of the extremely rich.  Most of his fellow students were the product of generations of inherited wealth, and were born into an honest sense of superiority.   Hedges was struck by how unaccountable these rich boys were, how stage managed everything was in their lives to make them feel successful and untouchable.   He refers to their isolated, protected sense of entitlement and freedom from the consequences of most of their actions on everybody else, not unfairly, as the pathology of the rich.  

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