15 March 2011

Remember how Americans weren't supposed to do irony?

Of course I'd lived and worked there for a decade, so I suffered from the great British demerit of knowing what I was talking about; but if there was one thing above all that irritated me about slimy Brit lefty anti-Americanism, it was the oft-repeated conceit that the land of Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce was a stranger to irony.

What they do deprecate is the witless vulgarity of what passes for humour in Britain. I cite this article from Reason not because it's especially good, but because it is typical of what educated Americans can expect to read in their journals. We get only the tired old schoolboy satire of Private Eye.
The nation was left reeling yesterday by the revelation that the presidential election of 2008 was a hoax. The shocking announcement came when White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Barack Obama has been working in secret with conservative provocateur James O'Keefe since 2007.

Carney said the scam entailed pulling together demographic, social, cultural, and policy characteristics to create the most exaggerated Democratic candidate possible without stepping over the line into caricature.

"By combining empty, touchy-feely slogans like 'hope' and 'change' with far left-wing policy planks and presenting them in the person of a racial minority from a major Midwest city with an Ivy League background, we thought we might be able to make a good showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, maybe even capture the Democratic nomination," Carney told reporters. "But the entire country? No. We never, ever for even a second imagined the American people would elect someone who had served only half a term in the U.S. Senate to be the leader of the entire free world."
Then again, the daily reports of solemnly insane actions by the state in Britain are so far beyond a joke that I guess we can no longer "do" irony. You have to believe there is a better way of doing things in order to mock the way they are done, and I suspect that most people no longer entertain any such hope.   

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