Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tales from a CPAC reception: The transvaluation of all values

An anonymous 21-year-old blogger left a comment at Hot Air (4th comment down, at 7:47 p.m.) denouncing me as a "JERK OFF," in all caps. He posts no e-mail address at his blog, so I attempted to reply on his "about" page, a reply that -- when last checked -- was still awaiting moderation:
Sir, as you have no contact information listed on your blog, this is the only venue in which I may address your assault on my character in the comment field at Hot Air.
I do not recall meeting or seeing you at CPAC. If such an interaction as you describe took place — and I doubt it took place as you describe it — perhaps it was because you failed to notice that I was attempting to pose a photo of Jed Babbin and his colleagues and was surprised at an unexpected intrusion.
Please understand that my professional circumstance requires extreme exertions during CPAC, so that after two or three days I'm running so low on sleep that I occasionally become irritable. Furthermore, you may inquire of many young conservative activists about what an easygoing person I am, and how often I have helped and assisted them.
If I was less than the soul of courtesy during our encounter at Friday's reception, please accept my most sincere apology. And if you were less than courteous or respectful (then or since), please accept my forgiveness and continue to regard me as your most humble and obedient servant,
Robert Stacy McCain
My late mother always told me to mind my manners and be respectful to my elders, an instruction I have on too many occasions sadly neglected. But as my late father often told me, after I had misbehaving children of my own, "Son, you pay for your raising." Indeed, and that I should be basely insulted by this impudent young whelp is just another installment on my payment schedule, I suppose.

Perhaps our young friend at The Sheikh Down is attempting to employ Rule 4 ("Make some enemies") from "How to Get a Million Hits on Your Blog in Less Than a Year," and I'm happy to apply Rule 2 to this situation. Too bad our young friend -- though he fancies himself a writer, and has some evident aptitude in that direction -- doesn't have SiteMeter or Technorati on his blog, so as to measure the traffic that will lead to so many encouraging comments (hint, hint, Smitty, Dave, Jimmie, et al.).

I may have more to say about this overnight, so bookmark and check back. Meanwhile, I must upload more photos to Facebook, write an article for the American Spectator, et cetera.

UPDATE: While the photos are uploading (or not) via my much-abused laptop, let me clarify what is meant by the subtitle. Nietzsche once employed a phrase, "the transvaluation of all values," that expressed the terrifying anti-natural condition of modernity.

It is natural and appropriate that age should command respect of the young, that wealth should be admired by the poor, that weakness should yield way to strength, and that wisdom rule over ignorance. Nietzsche was just crazy-genius enough to perceive, in the helter-skelter tumult of 19th-century Europe, the dawning of an era in which the natural order would be upended. This is a profound and (to use a word that has been worn threadbare) nuanced understanding of what a potentially horrible thing modernity is.

Being raised by perhaps the last generation of non-ironically "old-fashioned" adults, my puerile impudence was relentlessly chastised. My parents, teachers, and coaches had gone through the trial of the Depression and the ordeal of World War II. I was born in the penultimate year of the Eisenhower administration, and the shadow of the Cold War loomed darkly over my youth. It seemed to be the belief of my elders that us young whippersnappers had things entirely too soft and easy, and that we were in danger of absolute effeminacy and dissolution if they did not take it upon themselves to instill some small measure of rigor in our existence.
Hard times make hard men, and my parents' generation had an adamantine quality that now, in middle age, I appreciate far more than I did when under the lash that they applied to my youth. So excuse me if occasionally I feel the need to give these upstart pups a tiny taste of what it was like, back when youth-league football coaches believed that providing water to their players during summer drills, on afternoons when the temperature was over 100F and we 10-year-olds had been doing Oklahoma drills for an hour.

Bruce Catton, in one of his Civil War histories, recounted the occasion when a rookie Yankee regiment was marched overland in a cold rainstorm, to make their bivouac in a miry field, scarcely able to kindle a fire to boil coffee. A young officer expressed some concern for the health of the troops, a remark that prompted one company's top sergeant -- a grizzled Prussian immigrant -- to scoff: "Bah! It is but seasoning for the recruits!"

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