Rant of the Week: Tony Fitzpatrick on Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and Arizona

January 17, 2011 · Print This Article

Tony Fitzpatrick. Star for Tucson, 2011.

Any of you who follow what I post on this blog should know by now of my deep and abiding love for rants. Let’s capitalize that term, because it deserves it: Rants. In my book, Rants comprise a sorely neglected literary genre in and of themselves. I like to collect them, and when I find a Rant (almost always via the Internet) that is intelligently argued and extremely well-written, I literally bounce up and down on my chair with glee.

I wish my “Rant of the Week” column truly could be a weekly thing, but alas, I rarely find Rants that are good enough to link to. My #1 requirement? That the Rant be skillfully executed and generally well-written.  It should feel like a real essay, not like a nasty blog comment dashed off in the heat of the moment. #2 requirement? Laugh-out-loud funny. #3? That it powerfully express the writer’s righteous anger, even if I don’t fully agree with the writer’s take on that particular subject.

In my view, Tony Fitzpatrick’s latest column on Artnet meets all three of my “Good Rant” requirements. Mind you, there’s a fair amount in there that I don’t personally agree with — but that’s not the point here. This is a Rant — it’s supposed to be extreme, rhetorically-speaking, and in this case it’s written in response to a vicious, violent attack that was more extreme in its effects than words could ever be. There are certain aspects of Mr. Fitzpatrick’s prose that make me shudder and shake my head, but there are other parts that are undeniably rousing. It’s like, Yeah baby!! Someone actually said the things that everyone else is afraid to say, and they said it loud and proud! It’s that aspect of the Rant, that break-the beer-bottle-against-the-table-and-go-for-broke-type of rhetoric, that draws me to them again and again.

The irony is not lost on me that the Right has its infamous Ranters too, and that it is their brand of heated rhetoric that some claim is at the root of the Arizona shooter’s attack. But I am still unwilling to forgo the Rant altogether in favor of more even-handed, muted, controlled and “correct” types of argument. I think Rants have a place in political discourse, hell–in any form of discourse. And I don’t want to give up on them.

Obviously, not every political statement should take the form of a Rant. But Tony Fitzpatrick is an artist who is well-known for speaking his mind, and he is in classic form here. Take a look at the brief excerpt below, then click on over to Artnet,  read Fitzpatrick’s piece in full, and decide for yourself. Or just enjoy it for the great example of good old-fashioned Rant literature that it is.

“There was a time when I regarded the Tea Party as noisy, but mostly harmless geeks — with their Triangle Hats and Jefferson quotes, they reminded me of the same dopes who were in the Civil Defense League when I was a kid. A crowd of Dolts and Dumb-bells who were mostly in it for the hats, the walkie-talkies, and the opportunity to hold forth like the assholes they watch on TV. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and other lesser McCarthyites who’d like to tell the rest of us how to be Americans and have cast themselves as victims since Barack Obama was elected. You know the types — they forswear big Gub’mint, until their particular industry goes tits-up and they need a bail-out — they hold the Constitution sacrosanct, but gave not a fuck when the Bush administration shreds Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights in the name of Homeland Security. Where were all the Triangular Hats back then?

When John McCain picked Sarah Palin for his running mate, a little over two years ago, I thought it was his way of giving up. If you look at the tape of the end sputter of the McCain campaign — one could tell this was a guy who really didn’t want the job — He was always a temperamental fuck — a guy who honestly resented being asked questions — any question — he was clearly a man far more used to giving orders than having to explain himself or his position. You see, John McCain, for all of his years as a political animal, thought he was running for CEO of the United States. He cultivated the skills of an executive and not those of a President. You can’t fire Congress. At the end of his campaign, one could tell he was relieved to have lost.

Palin, if you believe all of the subsequent reportage, was a disastrous candidate, unable to stay on message, full of platitudes and an appalling lack of depth when it came to issues of a global nature. Her home-spun, golly-gee, small-town Dip-Shit act played with the Republican base — the culturally conservative South loved Caribou Barbie. Never mind the howls of protest from her own state colleagues, claiming she wanted to remove books from public libraries she found objectionable. Sarah Palin was able to take a threadbare ideology and stretch out its shelf-life. She parlayed her Gidget goes to Alaska shtick into a now-canceled TV show, in which she takes almost surreal delight in blowing the brains out of Alaska’s native wildlife. It is odd to see a public official that turned-on by firearms.” Read more.

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