21 Oct 2008
“Dumbocracy: Adventures with the Loony Left, the Rabid Right, and Other American Idiots” is a furious diatribe about all the nitwits, lackwits and halfwits that populate, well, hell, everything in the world. Not just politics, but special-interest groups, Israel, the GOP, the military, religion. It’s a book that proves, if you needed it, that half the population is below the mean for intelligence, and that goes not only for our leaders, but the author, Marty Beckerman.
Because “Dumbocracy,” subtitled “Adventures with the Loony Left, the Rabid Right and Other American Idiots,” takes the easy way out. It’s a critical, unthinking book, a collection of index-card factoids mixed with reportage and spiced with curses, obscenities and crudities attempting to pass for comedy.
Beckerman’s usual tactic is to chain together statements, with nearly each sentence footnoted, followed by a brief, profane, often unfunny rant. Not that I have a problem with cursing. I love profanity. But the shock value has long worn off. You can’t drop the f-bomb and expect it to explode into comedy, and a lot of Marty’s bombs are duds.
Example: He talks about flying to Israel on the dime of a Jewish group called the ROI (for “Return on Investment”) Global Summit for Young Jewish Innovators. He lands his invite after leaving a note on their website giving this reason for applying: “I figured that if I suck up to the Zionist-controlled media, I might get some work.”
Well and good. Then he recounts this conversation after learning he’s to attend sessions on “content delivery.” It’s a good example of the Beckerman attitude, copped from Hunter S. Thompson:
“Listen, you Jew bastard,” I said, “I’m an objective journalist. I can’t distribute pro-Israel press releases to my media contacts whenever the IDF bulldozes some goddamned hippy, as much as I enjoy the thought of crushed, bloodied vegans. Are you trying to ruin my career? Are you trying to make me into a shill?”
“Not, it’s not like that,” said the staffer. “Think of ROI as a networking and brainstorming session … You’ll make some great contacts. Trust me. Just do it.”
“Okay, you Jew bastard,” I said. “Let’s skull-fuck this bitch.”
If this conversation actually happened, I’m Truman Fucking Capote.
While Marty likes to pretend he’s giving it equally to both sides, it’s clear he’s the reverse of the “South Park” boys, who said that they didn’t like conservatives, but they fucking hate liberals. Marty especially hates President Bush, who is referred to throughout as “[King Retard]”. And if you check the footnotes, you’ll find that the sources for his Republican bashing sometimes come from unbiased sources such as “Mother Jones” magazine.
Sometimes, Marty’s as ignorant as the Americans he satirizes. At one point, he goes off in a rage about “America’s Army,” an online video game run by the U.S. Army, complaining that the game contains little bloodshed and no dismemberment. Is he upset because he thinks that America’s youth won’t believe that war involves killing and bloodshed? Has he seen “Saw” and “Saw2”? These are the same kids, remember, who play “Dead Rising”, which is this video game that’s chock-full of awesomeness in which, among the many weapons used to kill zombies, is a four-foot-long augur which you can ram into the brain-muncher’s stomach whirl him about, losing limbs and killing more zombies until he’s a spinning chunk of man-meat. One only regrets that our boys in Iraq don’t have access to that kind of weaponry.
After battering Marty around like a Hitler pinata, I have to admit that “Dumbocracy” is useful. Once you wipe off the bullshit and ignore Marty’s attempts at humor, you’ll find an amazing collection of stupid statements, opinions and policies that really, really happened. Liberals want to force you to put down that cheeseburger and beer, and conservatives fear sex and planes being rammed into buildings. But after reading hundreds and hundreds of factoids — there’s over 800 footnotes; the Talmud isn’t as heavily annotated — it all starts to run together in one cosmic ball of idiocy.
But it’s fun to see the book veer into the ditch of rationality when he’s spending time with people instead of on his soapbox. When he goes to Israel, while he’s having fun at the expense of Orthodox Jews, he’s also trying to debate an Israeli soldier about security, and gets his balls cut off, metaphorically speaking:
“We haven’t had a draft in America for thirty-five years,” I say to a twenty-one-year-old IDF intelligence officer as we drive along the countryside. “Isn’t that kind of like slavery?”
“You see this gas station?” The soldier points through the lowered window. “Two years ago a suicide bomber killed twenty-seven people right there. Hamas would kill us if they could. Syria would kill us if they could. Iran would kill us if they could. There is no complaining about Army service because how else could we survive? Americans cannot understand because Canada and Mexico are your friends. They do not wish to kill everyone in your country.”
“Huh,” I say, wondering for the first time if American believe in liberty because we have the liberty. “Have you ever met a Canadian?”
Beckerman begins his book with this statement: “Opinions are like genitals: if you force others to swallow yours, there’s something seriously wrong with you.” His book is full of opinions. Draw your own conclusions.