Those familiar with my obnoxiously idiosyncratic ways will attest (perhaps with an eyeroll and an affectionate shake of the head) to my fiery passion for hat-tippin’, tobacco-chewin’, morphine-shootin’ old school country music. On any given day you might see me loafing around Appian Way in my Hank Williams T-shirt, eye-catching in its own right but doubly so thanks to a purported uncanny resemblance between myself and the legendary songwriting savant, to which I say “Y’all.”

I’m also partial to his grandson (hilariously dubbed “Hank III”), whose self-professed “hillbilly ways and outlaw style” both provide the perfect antidote to that stomach churning “pop-country” stuff manufactured by contemporary Nashville and present an ideal model for the womanizing, lecherous, downward-spiraling drunkard I yearn to be when I grow up.

Talent, unfortunately, can’t account for every generation, and in the case of Hank Jr. it really went out to lunch. Not only did he take just about everything vital or exciting about the genre his pop helped to kick start and water it down to the point of mind-numbing hickishness (which most people nowadays unfortunately associate with this type of music), but the guy’s also just kind of a doofus. This was recently displayed when he remarked that a golf game between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner “would be like Hitler playing golf with [Israel PM Benjamin] Netanyahu,” consequently igniting a firestorm of controversy.

Now let’s back up just a second: unfathomable as this comment might initially seem, Hank is actually not directly comparing Obama to Hitler. Rather, he’s establishing a parallel between two unlikely meetings of diametrically opposed figures – the Democratic Obama and his Republican adversary, the rabidly anti-Semitic Hitler and… well, you know. Yes, it’s still a sketchy thing to say at best, idiotically phrased and arguably trivializing the Holocaust a tad, but the distinction is an important one. Certainly the resultant media frenzy will have taught Williams not to drop the H-Bomb so flippantly in the future.

Indeed, this incident points to a larger issue plaguing much of our political discourse lately, that being the tendency to invoke the name of Nazism at the drop of a hat in order to more easily demonize one’s opponents. I’ll fess up that I’ve been guilty of such a fallacy at least once, having compared the burgeoning Tea Party to the beginnings of the SS in a long-lost article of my misspent youth. I’ve since realized, however, both the extreme insensitivity of invoking the Holocaust and its unimaginable horrors for the sake of petty bickering and the ultimate counter-productivity stemming from it.

National political dialogues have always been something of a self-serving mess, but now more than ever things seem to have devolved to the level of a playground shouting match, and brandishing these kinds of absurd analogies doesn’t especially help to mellow the climate. If anything, it merely furthers the reductive us-against-them mentality our monopolistic two-party system thrives on. Various special interests profit from keeping us blindfolded and earplugged, and what better way to go about it than to get that partisan blood boiling?

There are numerous instances, of course, where righteous indignation is a more than appropriate reaction to the oppression perpetrated by corruptive and corrupted bureaucratic systems. A topical example would be Occupy Wall Street, notable for its confrontation of those grotesquely influential corporate structures that would manipulate their oversized stake in government policymaking to keep themselves afloat at the expense of those less privileged.

Even here, however, care must be taken to maintain a concrete, ideologically-measured goal, to avoid descending into juvenile subversiveness for its own sake, and to remember that we’re talking about entrenched, complicated structures of power rather than a few mustache-twirling antagonists, thus proceeding with rational purpose rather than dogmatic vitriol.

As Hank Jr.’s mishap most ably demonstrates, the latter can really get you in a pinch, and when all’s said and done you’re left with nothing to show for it but a few whimsical ditties pining for the good ol’ days of Jim Crow and socially-sanctioned incestuous debauchery.


Justin Levesque can be contacted at

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