Sunday, April 11, 2010

Culture Of Cruelty: From The Cage Match Craze To The Tea Party

Over twenty years ago I had a revelation that appeared to stand logic on it's head; The two most polite places I had ever been were Karate tournaments and Gun Shows.
That's right. At the Karate tournaments there were hundreds of fighters, many who outranked me and had far superior skills. Yet, complete respect was displayed across the ranks.
At the gun shows, nearly everyone was armed. It was a National Rifle Association Nirvana where you could walk around with a Beer, buying and selling rifles, shotguns and handguns. Everyone was polite beyond belief.
But something has changed.
While wasting some time flipping through television channels, I happened across the movie "Never Back Down". It's a simple formula flick that we've seen in dozens of versions: Boy meets girl, boy gets beat up, boy learns how to fight, boy gets girl in the end.
But what struck me is the level of blood-lust the teenage crowds at the fights displayed, and from what I have seen it wasn't far from the truth. While I myself have only seen "mixed martial arts" fights on TV, I have friends that have gone to casinos and arenas to watch them live. These guys are hard-core martial artists that train daily and have no problem kicking some ass. But I listened with interest as they described the wanna-be fighters in the crowds, everybody a tough guy with a chip on his shoulder. My friends said the atmosphere was too testosterone charged and probably would never go again, let alone take a wife or girlfriend to an event. It seemed everybody wanted to kick somebody's ass, and it wasn't worth putting up with.
Across the board, instructors of traditional martial arts have been complaining of low enrollment and general lack of interest in martial arts that are steeped in customs, respecting rank, philosophy, and the long self-improvement aspect associated with traditional Asian martial arts. Instead, our increasingly on-demand society seeks instant results. Young people are gravitating towards "mixed martial arts", which is a misnomer and should simply be referred to as "fight-sport".
These fight-sports have methods, not "arts". Combat brings necessary pain, while "art" necessarily brings pleasure.
Don't get me wrong; the advent of fight-sport has clearly weeded out certain fighting techniques that are not viable in our modern times. However, this has been at the expense of the parallel loss of martial virtue, "Bushido", or "Wu-De".
With great power comes great responsibility, and kids of the "Never Back Down" generation are cheating themselves out of traditions that instill humility, respect and order in an otherwise un-orderly world.

To "The Tea Party"
Continuing the "Culture of Cruelty" theme, we now look at the extremes that the "conservative" movement has allowed to develop since President Obama began his run for the Presidency. Spurred on by empty heads like Sarah Palin, low-information voters and outright racists have become nearly mainstream activists.
When the so called "political left" protests, it is generally against war, and in favor of labor and civil rights. Despite immense numbers of demonstrators, the worst that usually happens is some window at a Starbucks gets broken by a few out-of-control kids.
Now, the "political right"- generally in support of war, and against labor (unions) and against civil rights (Nixon's "Southern Strategy"), is openly bringing guns to their protests:

Setting aside the politics and issues involved, I can only say that low-information conservatives consistently vote against their own best interests. If the "Left" protests war, the "right" protests against sensible health care reform. And they're bringing guns.
Does this look familiar?:

And we had hoped that by now, in 2010, that things would have changed.
In our current "Culture of Cruelty", Black Congressmen are being spit on and called "Nigger". There is open talk of secession and revolution as the emerging Neo-Confederacy invites acts of violence and warns of a "Reckoning".
With 24-7 broadcasts by propagandists Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity the "Jew baiting" ramblings of last century's Father Coughlin pale by comparison.
Take a look at this conservative conference addressed by Sean Hannity, who later back peddled from his comparison of "Tea Party" activists to Oklahoma City bomber and mass-murderer Tim McVeigh:

Please note that the crowd applauds in agreement.
But perhaps the clearest example of the mindset of these "conservative" activists is the abject cruelty displayed to a man with Parkinson's disease with a sign pleading for health care reform at a "Tea Party" rally:

With the first Black President and the first woman Speaker of the House, the fragile grip conservative white Americans had on the country is slipping away. Unwittingly led by corporate overlords through fake "AstroTurf" grass-root movements like Dick Armey's "Freedom Works", conservatives struggle to label Obama a Socialist, Communist, and in the greatest case of "projection" ever, "Fascist". Never mind they can't define or differentiate between either of these political ideologies.
Things are escalating to dangerous new levels. The pot is literally calling the kettle "black", and the pot is packing guns to political rallies.
During the McCarthy Communist "witch hunt" in 1954, chief council for the Army Joseph Welch was defending a young attorney that had been a member of The National Lawyers Guild. In this famous moment, he sums up the atmosphere of not only the hearings, but the political climate:

At long last, Tea Party activists; have you no sense of decency?


Journeyman said...

Absolutely. Full respect for those who are prepared to step up into the ring - but contempt for those wannabes that cheer them up on. The blood lust of the MMA scene is very disturbing - more like a Roman mob at the arena than a martial arts tournament.

I think the wannabe factor is key - personal experience of a smack in the mouth tends to mitigate the gun-ho attitude. When the audience have experience of participation themselves there is more likely to be respect ad restraint. My old experience of Rugby Union, very much a minority sport here where many watching it have had some playing experience, is noted for its polite and sporting crowds - in contrast to the frequent violence on the pitch.

As for the culture of cruelty - we are seeing the same thing on this side of the pond. The worst excesses of political correctness have unfortunately given rise to a backlash. Under the guise of clever post-modern irony, we see a thinly-veiled revival of the same old racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic reactionary shit. It's a climate that are own far-right - the BNP etc - thrive on.

B said...

I've addressed the "MMA mentality" recently on my blog. This whole Tea Party bring-a-gun was on my list. I may still address it.

"Don't get me wrong; the advent of fight-sport has clearly weeded out certain fighting techniques that are not viable in our modern times."

In many instances it has shown that what we once thought might work, does not. The flip side of that coin is because it's still a sport, certain things are not allowed: breaking bones, purposeful dislocations, eye gouging, eye pokes, biting, kicking in the "Jimmy", blowing out knees, etc. In true life-or-death combat many of those practices you still train for in Karate, Kung Fu, etc. still have a place.

I'm a moderate on most things including guns. I don't agree with the kooks on the far left who'd ban all guns, and I don't agree with the kooks on the far right who'd give you a gun at your baptism.

Right now the kooks on the far right are treading on dangerous ground -- lets say that .5% of the "bring-a-gun-to-a-rally" are mentally unstable. That's probably a 100 people in the country who can potentially misinterpret the message and decide to "wig out" and use their gun at a rally.

That's the part that worries me and shame on the far right for egging it on.

-Bob Patterson

Sean C. Ledig said...

Amen!!! Testify Brother Rat!!! Great post!!!

Dojo Rat said...

Journeyman; love your blog by the way.
As the Reagan-Bush Thatcher conservatism has destroyed the global economy, we are going to see the elite pit us against each other so we don't come after them.

I could have gone on and on about the MMA kids. Nothing against the fighters, they're just doing their thing. And it is still a SPORT.

Sean; Hows your Bagua coming?

Sean C. Ledig said...

I had that killer flu last month, so I took some time off training. I am working out again and hoping to be back in bagua next week.

I also have some work prospects and paying writing gigs going, so all that is keeping me busy, too. I'll update everyone on my own blogs later.