In the Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt called this process nihilistic relativism. In the future I will be talking more about Rush since I view him as the Father Coughlin of our times, but let me link to what has raised my ire this morning. From Media Matters:
On the April 19 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, host Rush Limbaugh declared that the perpetrator of the April 16 Virginia Tech shootings "had to be a liberal," adding: "You start railing against the rich, and all this other -- this guy's a liberal. He was turned into a liberal somewhere along the line. So it's a liberal that committed this act."Words like despicable, heinous, abominable, cretinous, etc. come to mind. Let see if I can make a point. Here's a link, also from Media Matters, in which another movement conservative, Debie Schlussel also speculates about the killer:
Responding to the April 16 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, right-wing pundit Debbie Schlussel "speculat[ed]" in an April 16 weblog post that the shooter, who had been identified at that point only as a man of Asian descent, might be a "Paki" Muslim and part of "a coordinated terrorist attack." "Paki" is a disparaging term for a person of Pakistani descent.Schlussel wrote, "The murderer has been identified by law enforcement and media reports as a young Asian male," adding, "The Virginia Tech campus has a very large Muslim community, many of which are from Pakistan." Schlussel continued: "Pakis are considered 'Asian,' " and asked, "Were there two [shooters] and was this a coordinated terrorist attack?"Here's the point I'd like to make. Schlussel's comment is obvious bigotry. Rush's is less so. Why is that? It's because "liberal" doesn't imply an ethnicity or religion. Which is why "liberal" is such a perfect Eternal Enemy for the conservative movement, the term let's them get away with hate-mongering under the pretense of attacking a political philosophy. But Limbaugh et all use the term as a perjorative label that has an amorphous meaning that at any time means little more than "anyone that stands in the way of movement conservatism." There is absolutely no reason to try to ascribe liberalism to this killer. That is so specious ... it's so absurd that one struggle to even know what to say to that (especially when one is recovering from a nervous breakdown.)
I understand that this is a bit undeveloped and what not, but I'm just writing this now to help me sort my thoughts and will later start builidng a more cogent and well-developed argument explaining this phenomenon.
And Limbaugh does this every day for 3 hours a day. Don Imus got fired (rightly so) for making a specific racist remark about a specific group of female basketball players. Limbaugh's entire career is centered around demonizing an entire class of people ("liberals"). Imus made a hateful remark, Limbaugh traffics in nothing but hate-mongering. But more than that, Limbaugh tells untruths to justify horrible, horrible things. For example, not to long ago he was saying we shouldn't provide food aid to starving Africans because they were becoming fat like Americans (and that's just off the top of my head, rule of thumb: if someone anywhere is trying to do something good that will help people, Limbaugh will demonize that person as a "liberal" and proceed to mock and scorn them.)
Here's one thing about Limbaugh that really bothers me. Like some church authority of old, he equates his own views and opinions with Conservatism, almost to the point of being orthodoxy. Thus, if you don't agree with Rush, that means you are "liberal." The amount of hubris is takes to set oneself up as the ultimate arbiter of right opinion is staggering. What I'd like to see is more conservatives and Republicans stand up for themselves and let Mr. Limbaugh know that he is not demi-god who has special claim to the mantle of conservatism. It reminds me of the authoritarian church leaders of days past saying that anyone who strays from church orthodoxy is a heretic.
Oh well, brain is scrambling so I'll stop here.