Friday, February 20, 2009
Warriors & Whistleblowers
It's all weirdly relevant, but our punchline is 2 minutes in: Command Center!
UPDATE. Everyone feeling helpless in the face of what appears to be a leviathan assault on everything that made our country great. Wanting to know what to do in playing some part, however small, in overthrowing the ideological coup that could make us all slaves faster than anyone dreamed possible. A couple days ago, TruePunk urged us all to "learn from the left" and take to the streets to register the kind of public protest no one has ever seen or expected from the conservative backbone of the nation. Almost immediately, naysayers chimed in, urthshu to say, "Is that it? All that's left?" and Peter to say, "No, no, that's all wrong. Here's how the left really does it and that's what you have to do, too."
Who's right? Both of them. Or, counting TruePunk, all three of them. TruePunk is right because unprecedentedly noisy protests from the right have already begun and are news that will spread through the alternative media if not the MSM, and if they continue will carry an emboldening message to many previously passive 'good citizens.' Peter, who laid out an action plan straight from the Saul Alinski subversion manual, is also right. He's describing the shock troops -- the dedicated hero types -- who are willing to fight fire with fire against an enemy that is every bit as unscrupulous and implacable as he says it is.
But urthshu is also right. There has to be much much more than that if we are to have any chance at real victory. Peter and TruePunk are talking about warriors. We need them. People who are willing to stick their heads above the camouflage of anonymity and endure the hail of bullets that will surely come. But they can easily become mere martyrs if good people are content to cheer quietly on the sidelines.
That's why I began this post with what many might consider a humorous reference to the movie Live Free or Die Hard. It strikes me as a (probably) unconscious allegory of the situation we find ourselves in today. The bad guys have deliberately targeted the infrastructure of the nation, everything that's actually made it go from day to day, decade to decade, and century to century. They intend to destroy everything that obstructs their psychotically power-hungry plan. In the movie, only two people stand effectively in their way: an old-school tough guy willing to give his last breath at every moment and a talented but timid nerd who actually understands how everything works and what precisely it will take to stop the worst things from happening. Early on, there's a telling exchange between the two. After realizing just how dangerous the circumstances are, the incredulous nerd (Farrell) interrogates the tough guy (McClane) about what's involved in playing the hero, being "that guy." Why would anyone do it? Here's what's said in the script:
McClane: "Do you know what you get for being a hero? Nothin'. You get shot at. Pat on the back, blah blah blah. 'That a boy.' You get divorced... Your wife can't remember your last name, kids don't want to talk to you... You get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me kid, nobody wants to be that guy. [I do this] because there is nobody else to do it right now. Believe me if there was somebody else to do it, I would let them do it. There's not, so [I'm] doing it."
Farrell: "That's what makes you that guy."
As it happens, of course, the nerd ultimately becomes "that guy" himself. He's the 'whistleblower' of this post's title. Once he accepts that he has some responsibility for the final outcome, he grows into the role the situation demands him to play. At the end he is critical to saving the day.
So you don't see yourselves as protesters or political operatives of the sort TruePunk and Peter are describing. There are good reasons for that. One of the primary definitions of traditional American conservatives has been that they leave obnoxious political activism to the victims and supplicants who have nothing to lose in demanding special favors from the government. That sign in their hands -- or the jargon-laden petition -- is a de facto confession of loserhood. Historically, conservatives have been content to sign a separate peace with the government, ignoring its most egregious excesses as long as they remain free enough to build a life outside the utopian liberal agendas of Teddy Kennedy, Barney Frank, Maxine Waters, and Nancy Pelosi.
But that's a separate peace that now lies in ruins. Conservatives can no longer afford to ignore the government and go their own way. As taxes go up, inflation goes up, regulation of all kinds goes up, and government intrusions into your eating, smoking, driving, religious, media, and child-rearing preferences go up, so too does your responsibility to tithe an appropriate portion of your attention and effort to fighting back, If you continue to ignore them, or surrender entirely, everything you value will be lost. But none of you has to start out to be a hero.
Let Peter be Peter. And be thankful there is "that guy." The rest are perfectly positioned to be whistleblowers, the ones who are living inside the monster and expert in various aspects of its ways.
Among you are teachers, entrepreneurs, corporate employees, attorneys, doctors, nurses, real estate professionals, engineers, computer jocks, scientists, plumbers, electricians, construction workers, truckdrivers, union members, government administrators, sociologists, journalists, writers, clergymen, charity volunteers, parents, children of aging parents, and most importantly residents of townships, cities, counties, and states. You are also consumers of products, services, financial institutions, entertainment, news, medical care, the legal system, nonprofit organizations of all kinds, and government services, including highways, public construction projects, police, fire, trash collection, recycling regulations, building and occupancy codes, health inspectors, water and sewer departments, zoning boards, planning commissions, freeholders and city councils, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
You live inside the belly of the beast, and you probably have intimate personal knowledge of how exactly many of these parts of our societal infrastructure work -- and don't -- and you'll be an eyewitness to how it changes in the months and years ahead.
This site has drawn fire previously for dissing the Internet as mere "letters to the editor" or a 'bulletin board" (an antecedent, though there are others, too). But a bulletin board is all it is. The good news is that each and every one of us can make that bulletin board better. Probably any one of us could choose from multiple disciplines in which to be a whistleblower -- that is, a faithful recorder of just how inefficient, wrongheaded, and sometimes evil a top-heavy bureaucracy can get in carrying out the mandates of the untouchable elite that makes and remakes the rules.
What to do? Pick something. Anything. Devote a percentage of your time to tracking it, learning more about it, chasing down the dirty details and despicable failures. What in particular? As I said, anything. Elementary textbooks. Malpractice law. No-bid highway contracts. The political bias of your hometown newspaper. The political correctness outrages of your hometown university. The skewed decisions of your municipality's family court proceedings in matters of divorce and child custody. The difference between your local high school's publicity campaigns and the anecdotal evidence about drug usage, promiscuity, and teenage abortions in your school district. The specific influence of The $780 billion Generational Theft Act on your town, city, or state.
Pick something you're close to. Something you know something about by dint of education, personal or professional experience, or avocation. Become a reporter and critic -- not a flamethrower but a scrupulous poster of informational index cards on the Great Bulletin Board. And, critically, seek out links with one another on related topics, locations, and lifestyles. Make yourself easy to find in case anyone is looking. (I won't tell tell how to start a free blog. If you can't figure that out, you're as useless as you fear you are.)
Chances are, you'll never have to make Matt Farrell's decision about whether to step up and be a hero. Leave that to the Limbaughs, Palins, and Santellis. Mostly, you'll be plugging away at your tithing routine just as you would as a member of a devout church congregation. But your information will be there when one of the heroes needs it, and he'll be thankful you were there when he did need it. Occasionally, though, lightning does strike, and it's always possible that one of your index cards will become a streamer for a miracle that could either destroy you in an instant or save the day at a vital moment in the nation's history. Think of all the subject matter experts who weighed in on RaTHergate to turn the tide in CBS's attempted smear of George W. Bush's military service. The only barricades they manned were the ones they were uniquely equipped to defend.
That's what you do. It's work. It's likely never recognized. It will take valuable time away from work and family. But it will make you stronger, more committed to the outcome you desire. And, yes, your own basement is a Command Center in the great fight to come.