ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Still Crazy After All These Years

This laughable article by an aging Hippie in the New York Times just begged to be commented on.

My comments will be interspersed throughout:

April 23, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor

The Accidental Rebel

By PAUL AUSTER

IT was the year of years, the year of craziness, the year of fire, blood and death. I had just turned 21, and I was as crazy as everyone else.

There were half a million American soldiers in Vietnam, Martin Luther King had just been assassinated, cities were burning across America, and the world seemed headed for an apocalyptic breakdown.

Being crazy struck me as a perfectly sane response to the hand I had been dealt — the hand that all young men had been dealt in 1968. The instant I graduated from college, I would be drafted to fight in a war I despised to the depths of my being, and because I had already made up my mind to refuse to fight in that war, I knew that my future held only two options: prison or exile.

I was not a violent person. Looking back on those days now, I see myself as a quiet, bookish young man, struggling to teach myself how to become a writer, immersed in my courses in literature and philosophy at Columbia. I had marched in demonstrations against the war, but I was not an active member of any political organization on campus. I felt sympathetic to the aims of S.D.S. (one of several radical student groups, but by no means the most radical), and yet I never attended its meetings and not once had I handed out a broadside or leaflet. I wanted to read my books, write my poems and drink with my friends at the West End bar.

Forty years ago today, a protest rally was held on the Columbia campus. The issue had nothing to do with the war, but rather a gymnasium the university was about to build in Morningside Park. The park was public property, and because Columbia intended to create a separate entrance for the local residents (mostly black), the building plan was deemed to be both unjust and racist. I was in accord with this assessment, but I didn’t attend the rally because of the gym.

I went because I was crazy, crazy with the poison of Vietnam in my lungs, and the many hundreds of students who gathered around the sundial in the center of campus that afternoon were not there to protest the construction of the gym so much as to vent their craziness, to lash out at something, anything, and since we were all students at Columbia, why not throw bricks at Columbia, since it was engaged in lucrative research projects for military contractors and thus was contributing to the war effort in Vietnam?
Yes... they want to build a park = great opportunity to protest the Vietnam war!
Speech followed tempestuous speech, the enraged crowd roared with approval, and then someone suggested that we all go to the construction site and tear down the chain-link fence that had been erected to keep out trespassers. The crowd thought that was an excellent idea, and so off it went, a throng of crazy, shouting students charging off the Columbia campus toward Morningside Park. Much to my astonishment, I was with them. What had happened to the gentle boy who planned to spend the rest of his life sitting alone in a room writing books? He was helping to tear down the fence. He tugged and pulled and pushed along with several dozen others and, truth be told, found much satisfaction in this crazy, destructive act.
So, you're one of those emotional and irrational people who can be swept up with the sentiment of the masses... especially by someone with great speaking abilities. Any chance that you're an Obama supporter?
After the outburst in the park, campus buildings were stormed, occupied and held for a week. I wound up in Mathematics Hall and stayed for the duration of the sit-in. The students of Columbia were on strike.
What a bunch of little brownshirts you were!
As we calmly held our meetings indoors, the campus was roiling with belligerent shouting matches and slugfests as those for and against the strike went at one another with abandon. By the night of April 30, the Columbia administration had had enough, and the police were called in. A bloody riot ensued. Along with more than 700 other people, I was arrested — pulled by my hair to the police van by one officer as another officer stomped on my hand with his boot. But no regrets. I was proud to have done my bit for the cause. Both crazy and proud.
Sounds like an unsuccessful bierhall putsch to me!
What did we accomplish? Not much of anything. It’s true that the gymnasium project was scrapped, but the real issue was Vietnam, and the war dragged on for seven more horrible years.
Of course not. Little is ever accomplished through speeches or attacking a tangential institution which has no power to change anything about the object of your anger. Of course, this is the modus operandi of the Moonbat Left - parodied by South Park here. Have a music festival, speak truth to power, come up with some stupid bumper sticker slong (Free Tibet!), and then take a lonnnnnnng toke on the peace pipe and hope something changes.

Hey... Hope for Change. Now I get why you all dig Barry Obama so much.
You can’t change government policy by attacking a private institution. When French students erupted in May of that year of years, they were directly confronting the national government — because their universities were public, under the control of the Ministry of Education, and what they did initiated changes in French life. We at Columbia were powerless, and our little revolution was no more than a symbolic gesture. But symbolic gestures are not empty gestures, and given the nature of those times, we did what we could.
Remember this Mr. Auster... I know you're older than me, but memorize this statement from now on:

SYMBOLIC GESTURES ARE MEANINGLESS GESTURES
I hesitate to draw any comparisons with the present — and therefore will not end this memory-piece with the word “Iraq.”

Auster: Wooops! Looks like I ended this memory-piece by mentioning the word "Iraq" by saying I wasn't going to mention "Iraq." See what I did there?

How clever of me, eh? Well, now let's just totally blow the readers' minds with how pathetic I am.
I am 61 now, but my thinking has not changed much since that year of fire and blood, and as I sit alone in this room with a pen in my hand, I realize that I am still crazy, perhaps crazier than ever.

Paul Auster is the author of the forthcoming “Man in the Dark.”

If at the age of 61 you have not matured, evolved, changed the way you think about the world in which you live, you're not trying very hard. If you still have the self-absorbed perspective that you had at 18, then you are a complete and pathetic moron.

Oh, and thanks for demonstrating how pathetic you are by taking us down memory lane in order selfishly market your book.

You hypocritical capitalist pig.

The comments on the article are great, too. They show the full range of idiocy from the Left, like the guy who thinks Paul Auster a hero and calls John McCain a war criminal.

In keeping with the Still Crazy theme, I've updated Paul Simon's lyrics to Paul Auster's idiocy (blame Mark Steyn as he's my inspiration for this):
I met my old hippie friend
On the street last night
she seemed so glad to see me
I just smiled
And we talked about some old protests
And we toked ourselves some grass
Still crazy after all these years
Oh, still crazy after all these years

I'm not the kind of man
Who tends to grow up
I seem to lean on
Old familiar ways
And I am a big fool for protest songs
That are shouted in my ears
Still crazy after all these years
Oh, still crazy after all these years

Four in the morning and I'm 61
woke up because I had to pee
Longing my youth a--way
Ill never worry
Why should I?
I haven't changed after 40 years

Now I sit by my laptop in my comfortable, hypocritical, bourgeois life
And I watch the capitalists go by (hoping they're handling my 401k well)
I fear I'll do some damage
One fine day - not just my usual empty gestures
But I would not be convicted
By a jury of my peers because
We're all crazy after all these years
Oh, still crazy
Still crazy
Still crazy after all these years
sorry... had to.

*** UPDATE ***
Wretchard over at The Belmont Club also pokes fun at Paul Auster - aka Rage Boy.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler