Agog at Magog (Arguing with the voices in their heads)

Hold everything for just a minute. I know, there’s so much else going on right, now, but really, follow that link. Read it. Yes, I know, Sarah Palin is manufacturing hateful nonsense and conservatives are encouraging bad craziness in the town hall, but it must be appreciated that George W Bush actually appealed to Chirac to commit French troops to Iraq in the name of fighting ‘Gog and Magog’. The same people who are now babbling about how Obama wants to murder your grandma were then raving about what a genius leader George Bush was. Of course, since I started writing this, Sarah Palin has reconsidered the value of ‘civil discourse’, but this is not a sign that conservatives are not childishly irrational; in the same sense that a stopped clock is right twice a day, even a babbling idiot can occasionally say something smart.

Excuse me, but I have a live one here. He calls himself ‘Huck’: He’s asking me: ‘Why do you feel that those who disagree with the president belong in a category or stereotype attached to such hateful imagery?’ If you read the comment thread you will understand the context for the question, but I will post the original comment here because it is so clever and pithy it deserves to be in a post:

They (‘right-wingers’) don’t see logic. They see the scary black man surrounded by all of the hate-filled liberals and satanic Islamisicts who are scheming to steal their pocket change and sleep with their daughters. They are past rationality. Talking to conservatives about health care reform is like being in a burning building with someone who won’t leave because they keep insisting that fire has served mankind for uncounted millenia and besides, isn’t it kind of chilly in here?

Huck, I call them like I see them, and if you don’t like the what I’m saying I see, you should take a look in the mirror. At least, that is if you feel that I’m painting you with this particular brush. Are there conservatives who have rational and explicable reasons for opposing President Obama? I’m certain there are. I just haven’t seen hide nor hair of them. The behavior by conservatives over the past several months has only gotten worse; adjectives such as ‘unhinged‘ and ‘demented’ are begining to lose their meaning. The lies and distortions pouring from conservatives are of a desperate and strangely pathetic sort, like a child who knows they’ve been caught and goes at it anyway. They are so bizarre that your own offense at my language is in itself almost incomprehensible. I mean, if you’re so worried about people being ‘catagorized’ or ‘stereotyped’ you should really check out Glenn Beck. He’s much more practiced at it than I.   

It is not that I think that Obama should be given some sort of pass because of his race or other such nonsense; I have disagreed with the man in the past and have found fault with him and certainly will do so again. Without any reservation I also fully acknowledge that the right doesn’t have the monopoly on silly beliefs and ideas without acknowledging equivalency between the two. The problem is that they are mad as hell and can’t even say why, but since conservatives have been playing the race card like a drunk at a blackjack table  you’ll have to forgive me for presuming that race is what is underlying this current madness.

11 Responses to “Agog at Magog (Arguing with the voices in their heads)”

  1. You seem very set in your “us vs them” mentality. You show me a reality full of categories, compartments, and stereotypes. I ask of you to reevaluate this. It is far too easy to place people into these categories, then judge them accordingly without individual appraisal.

    I agree, we have our fair share of lunatics in this country, many of which you cited as references in this post. For some reason or another you’ve decided to toss me into the same bucket. In doing so that makes you no better than they. As far as your “clever and pithy” comment, it seems more immature than anything.

    However, all of this bickering aside I think there is something that is more often than not missed during arguments like these. I believe we mean well. Aside from a few lunatics who will say the most extremist things to promote their own air-time, most everyone in America has the best of intentions. We can all be thankful to have the right to throw our opinions around as often as we want, and in any way we see fit.

    Winston, regardless of our previous discourse I mean you well, as I believe you mean well when you post about our political climate. We all bear a burden in these days, and it’s proven a difficult load to shoulder for everyone.

  2. By the way I love the smiley at the bottom of the page, I actually rubbed at it thinking it was a smudge on my monitor.

  3. So Huck,

    Aside from a commentary on Winston’s commentary. What are your thoughts on the president’s policies? I guess I am asking for the thoughtful conservatives/republicans view you speak of. Show us a little of the thoughtful discourse and maybe we can start something constructive. Rules? Stay away from stereotyping, name calling, and please support your views with verifiable facts. Pretty standard rules for a debate.

    Ready, set, go!

    Lara

  4. Huck,

    Warning: long-winded. As Winston seems to be a little busy, what with his rich, full life and friends (which do not burden me), I’ll bite. Winston may, at his leisure, smack both of us down later. As I’ve no reason to believe otherwise, I’ll assume you are someone with honest philosophical disagreements with the President’s policies.

    I actually slightly disagree with Winston in that I do not believe all the opposition to him comes out of racism (except for the soon-to-be-dead birther movement, which probably is, or at least a xenophobia toward someone who doesn’t look like them, and whsse name doesn’t sound like theirs). I do feel, however, based on observing conservative commentators and demonstrators, that they seem to be on cultural overload–meaning, there’s been more social change in the last few years than they are able to process, hence the occasional irrationality. If you’re not one of those, I applaud you for keeping your wits. (It wasn’t easy for me under Bush.)

    In regards to painting the right as lunatics, however, consider this: what we have seen lately (in fact, ALL we have seen), in both the mainstream AND right-wing media, are some really, really nutty people who, with big bulbous eyes, claim that Obama isn’t a citizen and therefore isn’t really President; that Obama is forming death-panels that will pick and choose who gets health-care and who doesn’t; that Obama wants to kill your grandma. And my favorite: that he’s a new Hitler. These claims are the pervue of the tinfoil-hat crowd, and not suitable for mainstream public discourse. I’m sorry, but Obama is NOT Hitler. Nor was Bush.

    If it appears that the right wing is being labeled as lunatics, it’s because right now the only audible voice from the Republican party IS the lunatic fringe. That fringe has taken over the public square, not only shouting down, harassing, and intimidating (and in one case, assulating) Democrats, but also more moderate Republicans who reject all that paranoid crap. (Rachel Maddow showed an interesting video of a Republican Congressman losing control of his town hall to a bunch of birthers who shouted him down and then recited the Pledge of Allegiance to drown him out. He ended up joining them.) Now we see corporate-driven flash mobs at Democratic town halls (this has been verified by multiple news outlets, none of them FOX) attempting to shut down any attempt at discussion and debate.

    Yes, us liberals have our lunatic fringe as well. They don’t try to assault or intimidate people, or threaten to kill them. Conservatives are showing a very, very ugly side right now, and it’s only a matter of time before something really bad happens.

    Now, to your point: I don’t doubt for a second that there are a great many conservatives, like yourself, who don’t actually subscribe to that nonsense, who actually use their brains, whose opposition to Obama’s policies comes from a sincere difference of opinion. I would much rather hear from them than those currently holding the microphone, who just seem to be screaming “NOOOOOO!” any time Democrats have an idea. That’s healthy and good and only advances the cause of democracy.

    But those people aren’t doing the talking right now. If, as you seem, you are better and smarter than the ones who are, time to speak up. Encourage your elected reps to stand up to them so they don’t timidly acquiesce to the fringe.

  5. First of all, let’s start by removing the labels. If you’ve followed my previous commentary with Winston I’ve alluded many times to their non-existent necessity. I am not a “conservative”, you are not “liberals”, I am Huck, you are Lara, The Prof.

    I despised Bush, he drastically increased the powers of the federal government and stomped all over our state’s rights. Not to mention increasing government spending by almost a third. Naturally when the Democrats took over this year I was excited and hopeful. Naturally I was disappointed when the sunlight time promise was broken, the GM and Chrysler fiasco took place, and Congress’s apparent forgetfulness on the issue of bills of attainder.

    If you think Glenn Beck frothing at the mouth, or Bill O’Reilly’s arrogant fact-twisting are accurate representations of people’s legitimate concern you are dead wrong. There are genuinely worried citizens out there, who’s voices are being drowned out by the “birthers” and the “death squad” criers. They are not racists, they are not part of a right-wing conspiracy tied to pharmaceutical companies and defense contractors. They are real people who are drawing real parallels between Bush’s expansion of the government and President Obama’s expansion of the government and they’ve seen enough. Of course they can’t compete for headlines like the birthers and the town hall meeting bullies. I hope someday their voices are heard.

    I recall reading one of the Prof’s comments about something seeming “Fishy” as of late. I couldn’t agree more and I’ve been smelling it for the last nine years.

  6. I realize my previous post isn’t as well constructed as the last few I’ve made, I just woke up from a 14 hour fever-nap and was so intrigued that there were others on this website that were willing to hear me out that I jumped on the opportunity.

  7. Huck,

    Glad the fever’s broken. Casting aside said labels (I apparently misread your earlier post–thought you’d actually said you’re a conservative), yes, the expansion of governmental power is always a concern and ought to be questioned, even if it’s for something “good.” I’ll actually accept the “liberal” label because, well, it’s pretty accurate. And while the single-payer system isn’t on the table at this time, nationalized health care, while it would almost certainly have benefits to it, also frightens me a little, because you just know somewhere out there is a politician who’d jump at the chance to score points by messing with it. The bailouts sucked–no one liked those. But it was either that or total collapse of the finance and auto industries. One might suggest it is appropriate to just let them die–understandable. They screwed the pooch, they should suffer. But many other jobs/industries were tied to them (for instance, my own institution gets frequent short-term loans from Bank of America, and if that money stops flowing we cut people and programs, and our students get a lesser education).

    I actually never suggested Glenn Beck was representative of the opposition or “the people” or, well, anyone but undiagnosed mental patients. (Nor do I think you’re one of those tinfoil-hat people.) But as you said, they’re the ones drowning out real debate. And they’re what’s wrong.

    The problem is that Dubya and Karl Rove drove public discourse into the toilet about nine years ago–the hit on McCain in SC was really the starting point. Iraq was what put it over the edge, and we haven’t recovered yet. And what needs to happen, for everyone, is for it to be lifted OUT of the toilet. That’s one of the reasons I still like Obama–he seems to have raised the level of discourse just a little, and his presence at least stems the tide of the crazies. I’m an actual professor teaching actual public and academic discourse (among other things), and the most important thing you can do to convince someone of anything is to show them you understand their concerns, then assuage them.

    The real solution here, which ain’t easy, is to do what we’re doing right now: to actually engage in civil discussion about important things. If you’re worried, write your Congressman saying you actually want those discussions, show up to the town halls, ask intelligent questions, ignore the crazies. (I’m showing up at a couple myself.) But I sense that the furor is starting to crest, so soon you might actually get that chance.

  8. Prof,

    Agreed, the human variable is always the most frightening. Which is why I believe government is best left out of our affairs as much as is definably reasonable. I also agree that Rove was a master at ambushing opposition and turning public favor against dissenters. That is why I’m so saddened by many using similar tactics on this health care issue, drawing on the tried-and-true “unamerican” accusation. We can all hope that people will someday be able to disagree again without being labeled, judged, and condemned.

  9. […] to Huck (Prof, your excellent comment covered a lot of ground for me; I do take exception to the characterization that I asserted that […]

    • Sorry, Winston–that was what I’d gotten out of your post. Which is what happens when one reads these things at six in the morning.

  10. No worries, brother.

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