Friday, October 27, 2006

Worst. Campaign. Ever.

I can't begin to describe how much I hate politics. Any system that rewards, gives the perception of rewarding, or even encourages lowest common-denominator behavior like we're seeing now in the race for the Virginia Senate seat is beneath me. We've assured ourselves that the people who are most willing to lie, cheat, and steal in order to gain power over us will do so, and I want no part of it.

The story that has me absolutely livid and sad is the game being played by Republican George Allen's campaign attempts to smear Democrat Jim Webb as a woman-hating pedophile, based on a descriptive, scene-setting passage from Allen's novel about Vietnam that describes an accepted SE Asian ritual of kissing young children all over their bodies (including their genitals).

A summary:

While George Allen was discovering his love for the Confederacy in Southern California and at the University of Virginia, Jim Webb was fighting the war in Vietnam, finding himself wholly immersed in a completely foreign culture. Webb was obviously rather profoundly affected by that experience. Because he chose to write about it, in a series of books that have won widespread praise from politicians, from fellow Vietnam vets, and from literary critics.
But war-loving, flag-waving George Allen has decided to hold all of that against Jim Webb. Tonight, Allen took what was clearly a scene-painting, cultural passage from one of those books, grotesquely took it out of context and sexualized it, then slapped it on a press release in an attempt to cheapen Webb's well-received books as cheap porn with hints of pedophelia.

This isn't just a political attack. It's an attack on art. On writing. On expression. Hell, it's an attack on knowledge and learning. It's cheap and tawdry and cynical.

Perhaps if George Allen hadn't himself procured a student deferment from the Vietnam War, he'd be more familiar with the country's culture, and wouldn't bastardize the work of a man who did fight, and who saw to share his experiences with the rest of us -- Allen and his campaign of course announcing and advertising their own willfull stupidity in the process.

Just politics, I guess.

I didn't really give a shit about this race until now. But now, I might become a US citizen, move to Virginia, vote against George Allen, and then swear off politics forever. But since the first three are clearly impossible to accomplish in the next 10 days, I'll have to be content with the last one.

More disgusting behavior on the campaign trail from both parties, but especially the GOP, here and here.

Obvious hat tip to Radley Balko, who made an excellent and terrifying point after doing some research on the practice of the touching of children's genitals in other areas of the world:

Of course, I'm probably now going to jail for what I just typed into Google to find those articles.

Title reference here.


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