My name’s Bill Walsh and I’ve been brought in by the Berlinski junta as Minister of Information. I myself am not entirely clear what that entails. It could just be Claire wants more people on the official Ricochet Trivial Pursuit team. That said, she said that equipment would be arriving for my ministry, and sure enough, I found a giant crate on my doorstep. I figured, well, maybe laptops? Perhaps some iPads?
So, I got out the ol’ crowbar and opened the thing, and I now have 200 Kalashnikovs with Bulgarian stampings. I’m not entirely sure what this has to do with the gig, but doubtless Claire will tell me. And you don’t cross Claire, as y’all have doubtless learned at this point.
So, who am I? I’m a former consultant and sometime author, editor, and translator who’s currently picking up a doctorate. I like long walks on the beach and fuzzy bunnies. Also, I can juggle moderately well. So, clearly I’m qualified to serve drinks at Rob Long’s Malibu sea-side estate. (Though not at Peter Lawford’s beach house…that’s a whole other thing…)
So, here’s a question for everybody. I agree wholeheartedly with the Ricochetic mission of fostering civil conversation…but I think it‘s definitely swimming against the tide of contemporary discourse, which seems to be increasingly polarized and angry. Truism, right? Even on the right, the tone from (my friend) David Frum’s FrumForum folks is often “get thee behind me, Walmart Jesus People!” and conversely the conservative right sometimes erupts in “Anathema, RINO! Anathema!” My question to y’all is: why do you think it is? Do you think it’s a matter of the internetization of the conversation, with immediacy and anonymity encouraging fury and incivility? Or is it a matter of the ideologicalization of the parties, with two camps with mutually exclusive premises incapable of agreement and therefore devolving into shouting? Is it a result of the end of the left’s monopoly on the commanding heights of media, and their fury at dispossession and the bloodthirstiness of the torches-and-pitchfork wielding mobs who’ve pulled them down? Is it a function of the increasingly take-no-prisoners tone of politics, from the Clinton impeachment to the 2000 election, and so on? Or is there just something in the water at this point?
It could be one, some or all of those things—or something else entirely. What do you think? Any hope we’ll get past it? Or is it just the natural outgrowth of the rough-and-tumble of democratic politics in the age of the aggressive bureaucratic state, and the idea of getting back to a less-heated environment is Pollyanna-ish wishful thinking?
And does anyone need a Bulgarian AK in 5.56 NATO?