Thursday, May 25, 2017

Political Stylings Revisited

How can you switch from Neo-Nazi to Muslim?   Only when you really don't believe in either, but are just posturing.  Few people really can "be themselves" these days, but instead choose caricatures instead.

I wrote before about political styling - people adopt political or even religious personas in order to find an identity for themselves, or be accepted by a group.  And often they have no clue what they are doing.

Today in the papers, a bizarre example.   A young man falls in with neo-Nazi roommates and gets involved in serious Nazi sites.  They have bomb-making and radioactive materials in the apartment and attend Nazi events.   Just as suddenly, he decides to become a devout Muslim, and murders his roommates, claiming that Americans are bombing "his country" - even though he is as white as Wonder Bread.  Scary thing is, he's in the military.

What is up with this bizarre situation?  Mental illness surely is a big part of it.   And mentally ill people will latch onto any cause to be part of it.   But I think the political styling aspect of it is important as well.   People today have no sense of history, so to them, Nazi is just another flavor of political thought, one that is convenient if you are young, white, and male, too.   And Muslim is another flavor-of-the-month, heavily advertised by the media.   Why not try that, even if you were raised Catholic and have no real interest in it?

I recall an incident with a young woman who knocked on the door of my apartment once.  She was friends with the neighbors upstairs and was waiting for them to come home.  She asked if she could use my restroom, and being a nice guy I said yes.  Some friends came over and maybe we got high, and I forgot she was in there until my friend's wife wanted to use the bathroom.  We realized she had been in there for an hour.  When we finally broke the door down, she was obsessively folding and re-folding her clothes into a suitcase - she was batshit crazy.  OCD.

My neighbors upstairs were Orthodox Jews.  They told me this lady had "latched on" to them and was harassing them.  She claimed she wanted to convert to Orthodox Judaism, and he explained to her that you really have to marry into that religion - and even then....  She had no real interest in being Jewish, she was just crazy.   And it seemed like being Jewish would provide some sort of identity to her.

I think a lot of young people today fall into this trap - as young people yesterday did as well.  As I nearly did.   Whether it was being a hippy, a disco dude, a yuppie, a skater boy, a rap star, or whatever, it is all too easy to adopt an "identity" that is not you, and get sucked into the rabbit-hole.  You immerse yourself in a stereotype of an identity rather than living your own life.  It is comforting - identities provide you with a road-map of behaviors.  You just follow the plan, even if it is self-destructive like "gang-banger" or "Emo-girl" or today the "Hipster" with Jihadi beard and Hitler haircut.

And maybe this is why some middle-class kid from Minnesota ends up fighting for ISIS or becoming a bride of ISIS.  It sounds like fun and all, online.   And maybe being "online" on "Social Media" is far more evil than we are willing to admit.   Well, I am willing to admit it - I think it is the worst thing to come out of the 21st Century.   No one was every saved from a burning building by a Facebook post.  No one ever was rescued by a Tweet.   But people have been bullied to death or indoctrinated into radical religious and political philosophies all the time.  And many a career has ended with one poorly-thought-out Tweet or Facebook posting.

Time was, you seriously thought about this shit before you pledged your life to it.   You didn't switch from Democrat to Republican or vice-versa overnight, in some road-to-Damascus transition.  It took time for P.J. O'Rourke to go from liberal Democrat to Republican asshole, or for "Senator" Al Franken to go from Homophobic jerk to poster-boy of the far-Left.

Today?  With a click of a mouse, you can adopt a new political or religious persona literally overnight.   From Nazi to Muslim - pretty much an ideological 180, if not at least a 90 (Yes, I am aware, that some Arabs were in the SS during World War II - and both groups hate Jews).

Maybe, just maybe, this will be a wake-up call that Social Media isn't the benign force that people believe it to be - a place to trade recipes and post cute cat videos.   Sadly, it is increasingly a place for radical thought and the pitchfork mentality.  Both are a threat to our society and civilization.