CONNECTIONS: Owning a Berkshire libMore Info
About Connections: Love it or hate it, history is a map. Those who hate history think it irrelevant; many who love history think it escapism. In truth, history is the clearest map to how we got here: America in the 21st century.
It does not happen often in Berkshire County, but it appears we had a cutting-edge event.
On July 22, 74-year-old Paul Solovay, a supporter of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, was arrested for assaulting one of her challengers, independent candidate Shiva Ayyadurai. It happened outside a campaign event at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington (the Berkshire Edge, July 23, 2018).
A video, included in The Edge article, shows Solovay pushing a bullhorn into Ayyadurai’s mouth. Next, three younger men from Ayyadurai’s entourage rush forward and throw Solovay to the pavement and hold him. As the police arrived, one of the three men shouted, “I’m just holding him down.”
In the foreground, Ayyadurai turns toward the camera and asks, “Is my Twitter feed live?” Assured that it is, Ayyadurai describes the foregoing action as proof of Warren and her supporters’ racism.
Another of his followers, wearing a hat with a sequined American flag, inserts himself into the shot and says, “We just want to talk, and they resort to violence.”
All this is followed by dueling chants. On Ayyadurai’s side of Castle Street, the shout is “Take him in. Lock him up.”
On the other side of Castle Street, the crowd chants, “You go low; we go high.”
What makes this Berkshire dust-up a cutting-edge event? It is what preceded. Just before Solovay shoved the bull horn, Ayyadurai was chanting at the people in line for the Warren town hall-style event: “You’re the racists. Racists. Racists. Elizabeth Warren lives on racism.” And for some reason, perhaps because her name was on the marquee, “Whoopi Goldberg is a monkey.” The diatribe was meant to trigger a response and it did.
Solovay was sufficiently triggered to walk across the street. As he did, Ayyadurai escalated by shouting into the bullhorn, “Officer, we have a guy here waving an umbrella.”
More incensed, Solovay continued forward. Ayyadurai continued the accusations, now amplified directly in the septuagenarian’s face. Perhaps more in an effort to silence the bullhorn rather than to injure the speaker, Solovay put a hand on the bullhorn.
Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire, explains: “Here is the process for how to own a lib: First, you say something that “triggers the libs”; then, when they make clear that they’re triggered, you mock them; then, by virtue of your mockery, you own them. What you choose to do with the libs you own is irrelevant; mere pride of ownership is the important thing.”
“Owning a lib”: now that’s cutting edge; it’s next-level, at least. However, on Monday evening, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spoke before Turning Point USA’s High School Leadership Summit. She discouraged the students from “owning the libs.”
She explained, “I know that it’s fun and that it can feel good, but step back and think about what you’re accomplishing when you do this — are you persuading anyone?”
Right-wing criticism of Haley was swift and pointed. Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars tweeted, “Nikki Haley is incredibly stupid.” Breitbart headlined, “Nikki Haley Scolds Students.”
We have folks coming in from outside and owning Berkshire libs — wow — and people think we are backwoods and old-fashioned. Not us. We are on the cusp of tomorrow. All of which raises a question: Is owning the libs a worthwhile goal?
Breitbart explains that, since it is impossible to convince the other side of anything, “we might as well have fun watching liberals’ heads explode.”
Haley disagrees: “It doesn’t mean running away from arguments — it means making them. Triggering requires little skill or knowledge. Argumentative victory requires both.”
Haley also cautioned the result of owning libs may be apathy and backtracking, or it could be “ire and backlash especially at the polls.”
That same day, Trump announced he was considering revoking the security clearances of former CIA, FBI and NSA officials. Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, downplayed the threat, saying, “I think he’s just trolling people, honestly.”
According to the Urban Dictionary, “Trolling is the deliberate act of making random unsolicited and/or controversial comments on various internet forums with the intent to provoke an emotional knee jerk reaction from unsuspecting readers to engage in a fight or argument.”
However, right-wing pundits wondered, “Trolling can enrage the Left, which might feel great, but what if it drives Democrats to the polls?”
So there you have it: Berkshire in the 21st century, not left out or left behind. We are cutting-edge, modern-day, new-wave. We are living in the space between deadly serious in its destructiveness and plain silly in its mindlessness.