One Fish, Two Fish, Red State, Blue State…

“Red state, blue state!

What? Texas is red?

New York is blue?

What planet is this?

Who the h—knew?”


“Perhaps the most brazen language diktat has been the mischievous switch of political colors.  Stalin would hardly believe it, but blue now supposedly signifies the left and red the right.  According to Wikipedia and the Washington Post, so it must be true, the change came in 2000 courtesy of MSNBC and NBC’s ‘Today’ show.  It next migrated to David Letterman at CBS, and then went bacterial.

“It isthe fashion of the hip to purge emotion and elaboration from art, in favor of a cold, conceptualist detachment, whereas people in flyover country are still stuck in 5,000 years of history and tradition, and sneer neither at sentiment nor the beating of the human heart.  In art, any conservatives might be red and many liberals blue, but in politics?

“Red is the mobile color of passion and engagement, and blue the staid color of reason and detachment.  As you may recall, the left champions radical change spurred by boundless compassion, while the right wants to check the passions of human nature as they flow into politics, and to balance opposing power in a stable equilibrium.  Over time, natural affinities for the two colors have been confirmed by adoption—communist, socialist, and labor parties almost always favoring red.  But if NBC says to, we had better jump into line.  Most of the country has already done so without a thought.  Who says ‘old media’ is vestigial?  They are highly adaptable, or, as they might say, ‘Better blue than dead.’

“It might be difficult to get this past Putin, but the “Today’ show’s guidance would tell us that the place where communist apparatchiks review and may yet review rivers of missiles and goose-stepping solders is now Blue Square.  The Soviet Blue Army fought the Germans at Stalingrad.  Mao, the leader of Blue China, wrote the Little Blue Book, which was carried by the Revolutionary Blue Guard as they sang the Blue China anthem, ‘The East is Blue.’  And everyone knows that the flags of countries like the former Soviet Union, the Peoples’ Republic of China, and North Korea are a brilliant, striking blue, just like the caps of the Jacobins.

“The ‘blue towns’ of Italy, run by the Italian Communist Party, shared with conservative red bastions the depredations of the Blue Brigades, which might have made Emma Goldman, famously known as ‘Blue Emma,’ happy even during the infamous Blue Scare of 1919.  Imagine if you will David Horowitz, a ‘blue-diaper baby,’ clutching a copy of Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Blue October, as he sits through Warren Beatty’s movie, ‘Blues,’ which is not about music.

“It may seem as silly as Dr. Seuss: ‘Red state, blue state! What? Texas is red? New York is blue? What planet is this? Who the h—knew?’

“But it’s slightly more serious, because it’s a little, ignorant tail wagging an old and venerable dog.  It is also yet another example of a Fritz-Lang-like, gratuitous submission to spurious authority.  There are a lot of those these days, as if it were our heritage, which it is not.

“To echo Lenin, a well known Blue, what is to be done?  Both change and charity should begin at home.  That is, feed your own children and put your house in order before you interfere in the affairs of others.  Fluffy media can do what it wants, but perhaps more astute publications might look upon their longer history, higher quality analysis, and greater seriousness than the ‘Today’ show, and  revert to tradition so that in their pages Austin [Tx] is blue and Boston [Mass] is red.  Despite the commands of instantaneous fashion, there are a lot of people, the true blue, who will not ever believe otherwise.”  Mark Helprin, The Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2012, p. A13


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