Dé Céadaoin, Lúnasa 26, 2009
Who The Fuck is Bob Collier?
Collier, the man featured in a front page article in tuesday's New York Times, is someone who has "built himself a quiet life of family and church (and hunting and fishing) in his rural hometown in southwest Georgia." Collier and his wife Susan are both ardent conservatives, "They receive much of their information from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh's radio program, and Matt Drudge*'s web site." but Bob has apparently never been especially politically active. He skipped the antiwar protests of his college years. It was not until the looming specter of health care reform raised its menacing head that Mr. Collier summoned the courage to drive a whole hour to Albany, Ga,(The market town for his region and so presumably a trip he makes quite frequently)to speak out against the plan to his congressman, Sanford D. Bishop**
* Drudge? Seriously? That's old school as fuck. I wonder if they still have Hotmail like I do.
** Sanford D. Bishop dares you to deliver a shipment of Coors in twenty eight hours.
So, that's who Bob Collier is. But we still left with the question of who the fuck Bob Collier is and why he's on the front page of the New York Times. I freely admit to being a little jealous of the man. I hope that my jealousy doesn't cloud my assessment of the man, but I am jealous, and there's no reason why I shouldn't be. I'm some guy. I have opinions on things. Some things make me happy and some things make me sad. Some things make me angry and some things make me glad. In making front page news out of what Bob Collier thinks of health care reform the Times has officially declared that anyone with a brain that responds to external stimuli has every right to expect the same treatment.
They were looking for an everyman's opinion, that was the hook, and of course in looking for an everyman they theoretically could have ended up featuring any man. But of course not just anyone can be anyone. In the age of a Black urban president, with the river of human settlement flowing from country to city just as it always has, no less of a publication than the secular/Marxist/liberal/traitor/ New York Times still considers the standard of American normality to be the conservative rural White guy.
Collier, for his part, is perfectly convinced that his position on reform is suitably Olympian for the Times. "This is about the future of our country as we know it, and may mean the end or our country as we know it." His lack of lifelong political activism is presented by the Times as somehow legitimizing. "The cameras may linger on those at the extremes, but it is the parade of respectful questioners, those expressing discomforting fears and legitimate concerns, that may ultimately have more impact."
It is of course a good and fine thing to speak respectfully. But just as the level of passion one has for ones' opinion does not determine its truth, so the tone of ones' voice in expressing a concern does not make it legitimate. A vagrant once spoke to me with perfect serenity about his plan to join the army and become a suicide bomber for the US government. Which isn't to say that Collier is a raving loon. He seems like a decent man, and compared to the town-haller who accused a Jew of being a Nazi he seems downright admirable.
The fact is that the health care reform now on the table does not call for any more government in the market than any other social policy proposal put forth by a Democratic government since the New Deal. (In fact a good deal less than what would have been boilerplate thirty years ago.) If you think that's still too much, fine. But if you honestly believe that the health care industry, with its tow-truck style captive customer base, is the virgin pillar of Capitalism, and that to sully it in the slightest way would bring the whole structure down, well that's just nutty, in whatever tone of voice. It betrays a strong-father complex that can allow itself to relate to the larger society only as protective ubermensch, never allowing itself to accept its dependence upon the larger society, the innate vulnerability of being a mortal creature.
It is, to put it another way, an aristocratic complex. To the very end the nobility of Europe clung to the belief that they were the essence of their nations, never mind that the serfs had long moved away and that the general public was becoming as well or better educated than they. They were the standard of normality for reasons that lay beyond physical reality. The history of American stupidity is largely one of rural White men who have been suckered into believing that they are aristocracy. A strong-father complex is understandable in a man who has gone through life on a diet of Fox, Limbaugh, and Drudge, telling him that he and all other great defenders like him are under siege from those who seek to take away their unchanging national essence that exists beyond the realm of physical reality.
And now this poisonous old myth is repeated again by, the New York Times?