Friday, August 7, 2009

From a loyal reader (a long-postponed post)

One of the recent developments in the 'screaming mobs at townhalls' story is the observation that the Dems were completely blind-sided by this Republican strategy.

Back in June, fellow ABQ blogger and loyal reader of PrivateBuffoon, PM Prescott (formerly Captain's Log, now at Family & Friends) directed my attention to an article on AlterNet:
The Far Right's First 100 Days: Getting More Extreme by the Day
By Sara Robinson, Campaign for America's Future. Posted May 6, 2009
Sometime back in February, about three weeks into Barack Obama's administration, everybody on the left suddenly noticed that there was something different going on with the conservatives.

The outrageous screeds and paranoid delusions sounded pretty much as they always had -- but there was a new fury behind them, a strident urgency that hadn't been there before, and a very audible shift of the gears in right-wing behavior and rhetoric.
The far right wing has been laying the groundwork for violent action for decades. Long before they turn dangerous, political and religious groups take their first steps down that road by adopting a worldview that justifies eventual violent action.

The particulars of the narrative vary, but the basic themes are always the same:

First: Their story is apocalyptic, insisting that the end of the world as we've known it is near.

Second: It divides the world into a Good-versus-Evil/Us-versus-Them dualism that encourages the group to interpret even small personal, social or political events as major battles in a Great Cosmic Struggle -- a habit of mind that leads the group to demonize anyone who disagrees with them.
Third: This split allows for a major retreat from consensus reality and the mainstream culture.
Fourth: Insiders feel like they're a persecuted, prophetic elite who are being opposed by wicked, tyrannical forces.
Fifth: Communities following this logic will also advocate the elimination of their enemies by any means necessary in order to purify the world for their ideology.
The article (which runs to five [5] pages) goes on to note that:
There's been a quantum leap in the sheer down-the-rabbit-hole surreality of their beliefs about the world.
Since this was written, the so-called "Birthers" have become prominent (at least as measured by the amount of attention paid them by cable news channels), and the rhetoric being generated by anti-health-insurance reform folks is simply loony:
- The Dem's plan mandates euthanasia
- The Dem's plan eliminates private insurance
- Medicare is NOT a govt program
- Obama/Dems are Hitler/Nazis.

[note: the article gets scarier! Read it!!!]

If - as seems the case - our Dem representatives were surprised by the screaming mobs, they simply weren't paying attention.

The question remains: how to counteract the malignant lies and the thuggish 'political' discourse that spreads 'em?

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