Responding to Orwell: August 28

George: It pleases me immensely that you were fond of using the shorthand term, “ditto.” The word has intriguing etymology and yet you didn’t sprout (as I did) during the 1970s and 1980s, when “ditto” was more commonly used in reference to a mimeographed paper or a copy that was circulated amongst schoolkids and businessmen (who often behaved like schoolkids). But before good ol’ Xerox, it was used in a more common “see previous” capacity. You knew this of course. But let me confess my youthful ignorance. For years, George, I actually believed that the practice of saying “ditto” in this “see previous” capacity originated from the photocopy! I believed this as late as the early days of Limbaugh, circa 1993, when he referred to his listeners as “dittoheads.” (I am pretty confident, George, you wouldn’t have liked Limbaugh so much. For many years (1990-1993, to be precise), I exerted needless energies expressing my hostilities towards the man who gave us “feminazis” — an affront to the English language you likely would have observed.

And, in fact, while on the subject of Limbaugh and photocopied dittos, I remember one summer job (1993) I had in Sacramento. I was nineteen. I worked in a printing house and collated brochures. There was no air conditioning. It was tedious work, but I didn’t complain. And the owner, who was an unassuming but friendly conservative, played all three hours of Limbaugh every day. This drove me bananas. And I was patient. Up to a point. Until I finally confronted the owner and asked him whether he actually believed Limbaugh, why he listened to him, what he got out of him. Seriously, this guy is spouting a lot of bullshit. And what’s a guy like you, a man running a fairly successful small business, okay no air conditioning but even so, what’s a guy like you doing swallowing this codswallop? He speaks for me, said the owner in a very quiet voice. Limbaugh speaks for him. And I realized there and then that it was largely meek and mild-mannered men who were Limbaugh’s listeners. Not the callers, mind you. The callers were the most vocal of this bunch. And I realized that they were afraid of expressing what was on their mind. And I realized that they would flock to damn near any remotely entertaining demagogue because this was the only way that they could be part of the political process.

The Left here in America has failed to understand this. They are only just starting to get remotely angry, but they remain subdued for the most part, even after two terms of Dubya! Air America doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t represent that vicarious thrill that the print shop owner had. The idea, presumably, is to appear “civilized” in comparison to the “brutishness” of the Right. But nobody other than a pugilist finds use in a punching bag. So the Left is as much to blame as the Right for the past eight years of horrors. At the end of the day, we are all dittoheads. Small wonder then why it remains so hot & overcast. Yesterday, ditto.

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One Comment

  1. As much as I’ve enjoyed the 1938 descriptions of the weather and the progress of the harvest (kind of like leafing through a retrospective Farmers Almanac) I’m really looking forward to the start of the “political diaries” entries, apparently on Sept. 7.

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