Saturday, April 1, 2017

Up close and personal with Sebastian Gorka

Here is an article about and direct audio from a call by one of the White House's senior advisors, Sebastian Gorka, to someone who had criticized his ideas, credentials, and actions through a Twitter feed.  It is painful to listen to, since the situation is so absurdly inappropriate.  The recipient of the call, one Michael S. Smith, seems totally taken aback, as anyone would be, at receiving a call from a high-level official complaining that he'd said mean things.  I assume it is because of this that Smith never says the only thing that he'd have to say to end the conversation:  "You, Mr. Gorka, are a public servant, and I am a private citizen, and as such it is my right and my duty to learn what I can of your actions, credentials, and proposals, analyze them to the best of my ability (in this case as an expert on terrorism), and discuss them with my neighbors and the community at large.  This is a fundamental tenet of our democratic system."  Mr. Smith touches on many of these themes, but never manages to put them into a succinct phrase, so shocked is he at the conversation.  It's like when you have a run-in with someone on the street or at work, and only later you come up with the perfect retort.  Except in this case, there's some Hungaro-British fascist yelling at you for 20 minutes, so you can never get your thoughts together.

Particularly shocking are multiple moments in which Mr. Gorka evinces a fundamental misunderstanding of representative democracy.  On the one hand, he all but says that he takes any questioning of his work as a public servant to comprise a personal attack on him.  This twisted vision of his public role is confirmed by his using work time (when he should be serving the Nation) to make a private call to harangue someone for 20 minutes, and inviting Mr. Smith to work out their differences at a personal, private lunch in the White House, instead of in the public forum, where policy discussion belong.

But more troubling than this is Mr. Gorka's authoritarian insistence that no one question him or his master.  He seems to believe that, since Trump won the election, and since Gorka has been allowed a bully pulpit by the powers that be, then no one has a right to question him--not on his academic and professional merits, not on his fitness to carry out his duties, not on the soundness of his policy proposals.  The Boss says get in line, so you're supposed to get in line and not quesion.  It's like the classmate in grammar school that finds or makes up some arbitrary rule that supposedly lets them do what they want and "legitimately" prevents others from having a say.  I'm sorry, but that's not how a society of free subjects works, Mr. Gorka.

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