Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Art of the Idiotic Holiday Column (and How to Plagiarize Yourself)

Since I enjoy ragging on The Progressive so much, I couldn't let this one pass.

Every few years The Progressive unleashes an inane Fourth of July column that appears to take a contrarian position against celebrating the country's birth. This piece will get eaten up by conservative news outlets as evidence that liberals really do hate America. It happened in 2006. Then again in 2008. And it happened once more this weekend.

I could go on ad nauseum at how these columns are insipid exercises in ex-hippie masturbation or temper tantrums thrown by an aging flower child, how the columns are vapid arguments that seemingly lack and concept of logical coherence ... but instead I'm going to take the macro outlook and use this year's edition to demonstrate why reading The Progressive is pointless.

Rothschild kicks off this years edition thusly:
It’s July 4th, my least favorite holiday.

And I’m not referring to the bugs, or the crowds, or the traffic on the highways.

I’m talking about the mindless patriotic bubble bath we’re all supposed to soak in all weekend long.

Well, not me.

My heart does not beat faster at the strains of the Star Spangled Banner, much less at the sight of F-16s flying overhead to kick off the show.

You see, I don’t believe in patriotism.

You can call me unpatriotic if you’d like, but really I’m anti-patriotic.
Keep an eye on the highlighted parts, they look almost exactly alike Rothschild's 2008 effort:
It’s July 4th again, a day of near-compulsory flag-waving and nation-worshipping. Count me out.

Spare me the puerile parades.

Don’t play that martial music, white boy.

And don’t befoul nature’s sky with your F-16s.

You see, I don’t believe in patriotism.

It’s not that I’m anti-American, but I am anti-patriotic.
There are many things one can call this "recycling of ledes." Some might call this "plagiarizing oneself." Others, "choosing not to reinvent the wheel." I call it unforgivably lazy writing. Honestly, "Play that martial music, white boy," is one of the stupidest things I've ever read and one of the reasons I remembered Rothschild's 2008 column so vividly.

This is not how ideas are advanced. This is not how, a-hem, Progress is made.

To be fair, Rothschild does up the ante in his latest effort, decrying not "nationalism," but "patriotism" as the gateway drug that leads to (and you knew this word was coming) fascism ... so, he's got that going for him -- but the essence of the column hasn't changed since it's earlier incarnations.

And this is the problem at the heart of The Progressive: they've been essentially reprinting the same article over and over for years now. If it's not a screed bemoaning the enjoyment of an awesome holiday, it's a reminder of how much things such in Latin America and that it's all your fault or a look into what rapacious multinational corporations will be hot to hate on this fall.

Opinion magazines have to evolve with a changing world. Principles can remain static, but, for the love of God, at a very minimum a magazine's content has to change and even that isn't happening at The Progressive anymore.


1 ringey-dingey..2 ringey-dingey.... said...

That's terrible.
Bad enough the guy phones it in, but with a 1972 rotary phone yet. Just nasty.

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