Saturday, June 24, 2017

Grown-Up Problems

Writing at The Spectator, Lara Prendergast notes how a lot of the political commentary thrown about in recent years tends to cast things into terms taken from Harry Potter books and films. She points out that it's not particularly useful way of framing debate, and I think she's definitely onto something.

Throughout Twitter, Facebook political posts and sometimes online opinion pieces, there is no end to labeling President Donald Trump, for example, as Harry's evil enemy, Lord Voldemort. And that does exactly bupkis in addressing the real flaws with Pres. Trump's agenda and actions. His protection-minded trade policy is a serious problem with the one and his inability to shut off his damn Twitter is one with the other. Conservative or libertarian folks disagree with him on those matters and might find common cause with some liberal or progressive people in working against the president. But how do you work with someone who, instead of articulating a position, reposts a meme putting the famed orange mane atop a picture of Ralph Fiennes in full Voldemort make-up? How do you coordinate legislative strategy with people who plan on a mass mooning of a presidential motorcade?

This isn't new. Comic book artist Alex Ross painted a scene in 2006 showing then-president George W. Bush as a vampire biting the neck of the Statue of Liberty. Now, did the Patriot Act and other forms of post-9/11 surveillance need some talking about now and again? Of course. Regular review of a whole lot of government actions is a good idea, and especially of ones that hold so much potential for abuse. And you would not have to talk to too many conservatives before you find some who would enthusiastically support such reviews. Did Ross's painting contribute to that discussion in any way? Nope.

Prendergast closes by pointing out that the world is too complicated to be dealt with by a Sorting Hat. Bingo. Things like that trade policy misconception mentioned above will take some real work and real thought to be thwarted -- and neither Harry, Dumbledore or J.K. Rowling herself are going to be much help.

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