Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Transmission in progress

In Dave Neiwert's essay on Media Transmitters, one of the major media transmitters he identified was Bill O'Reilly, noting that he "has a penchant for conspiracy theories." What's notable about O'Reilly is that O'Reilly likes view himself as a hard-nosed independent who is equally tough on "the left" and "the right," yet he isn't - he's a conservative guy (independent minded, I'll give him that, but conservative) pretending he isn't. This is interesting because in his effort to distinguish himself as an independent O'Reilly has come up with his own spin on the traditional right-wing meme (see here and here) that Judeo-Christian America is under assault from atheists/communists/liberals and in the most hardline right - Jews - which is considered synonymous with the previous three.

In O'Reilly's version, there is a culture war being fought between "secular-progressives" and "traditional" Americans. And that's about it as far as it goes for there being a difference between O'Reilly's meme and the more traditional ones. But it still serves a purpose. O'Reilly, as a major pundit on Fox News and - despite his lack of understanding of what the term secular means - a secular figure he provides a version of the meme that is free of extremist or religious right overtones which are more transparently bigoted.

Yet O'Reilly's use of his "s-p"/"traditionals" designation is none the less pure bigotry. O'Reilly uses "S-P" as a pejorative label to identify anyone he disaproves of as unAmerican, a concept for him which is insuperable from conservative Christian America, and it need not matter whether the individual in question actually is religous or not, whether the individual is conservative or not. If you do something O'Reilly doesn't like - you're a S-P and at war with America and Christianity.

Case in point: Media Matters documents that O'Reilly stated on the June 1st edition of his show the following about Andrew Speaker traveling with TB

So what the story comes down to is philosophy of life. Traditional-values people put others on a par with themselves. That's a Judeo-Christian tenet. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Secular progressives put themselves above all others. That philosophy says, "Me first, then I'll worry about you." As a nation, the USA has been successful embracing the traditional point of view. But today, that's being challenged. And this TB case is a great example.
Notice here that the difference between O'Reilly's right-wing meme and traditional right-wing memes dissapper. What's even more disturbing to me is how easily this same sort of rhetoric would fit in with early 20th German anti-Semitic rhetoric about Jews assaulting traditional Christian values ... in Germany also the concept of "traditional" German and Christianity were insuperable. What O'Reilly is doing is creating a category of Americans - like the Germans did - who are by definition unAmerican.

Now one can object that by no means is O'Reilly as virulently prejudiced against "S-P"s as Germans were against Jews, that is true. But later in the show while discussing comments made to a group of students in Boulder, Colorado O'Reilly stated to James Dobson "Secular progressives are going to basically tell children to use drugs, to have indiscriminate sex, do what you want when you're 14 years old, never mind what your parents think."

James Dobson is a dominionist and he is virulently prejudiced against non-dominionists, which by his appearance on O'Reilly have been conflated with "S-P"s. And thus a transmission has taken place, O'Reilly has mingled his views with a representative of an anti-democratic totalitarian belief system, and the representative of the anti-democratic totalitarian belief system-has been able to transmit his message in a non-extremist package by having O'Reilly present him as a representative of "traditional" America.


C2H50H said...


Speaking as a person who has observed American politics for lo! these many years (the first political campaign I remember was the Goldwater/Johnson race -- my family were Goldwater backers) I have to say ... I've lost the thread of American Conservatism.

The Goldwater Conservatives have almost become extinct. What few of them remain appear to be a faded remnant.

The Reaganites, who weren't entirely trusted by the Goldwater Conservatives, have metastized into Bushism, which, according to many "Conservative" pundits, does not represent Conservative ideals (whatever the hell those are.)

I'm more than willing to grant that Bush isn't Conservative -- it seems to be a moving target, so it's hard to remain a "Conservative" for long, unless you happen to be Viguerie, I guess.

Forgive me, Oh Conservatives, but from where I sit, what it looks like is a loose affiliation between the authoritarians, who will follow any sufficiently "manly" leader, plus several single-issue constituencies, such as those who are uncomfortable with the freedoms conferred on humanity by the march of modern medicine, those who suffer from excessive fear that their guns will be taken away, and so on, plus a bunch of people whose only impetus to be conservative appears to be that they could never be nominated by any remotely liberal party.

Perhaps, HG, you might consider a post giving us a short version of conservative ideals, or, perhaps, you or one your readers could point out a "Reader's Digest" version for me to look at?

Because at this point I don't really know anymore.

Am I alone?

Hume's Ghost said...

You're not alone. There was a comment thread here almost two years ago where I said pretty much the same thing. If you notice, I used conservative as an adjective to describe O'Reilly rather than say that he was a conservative.

And in this instance I meant conservative in the sense of being anti-liberal and afraid that some mythic "traditional" America is on the verge of disappearance.

C2H50H said...

I hadn't discovered your blog two years ago. I'll look that entry up and see what it said.

I would suggest that "regressive" is a more apropos term for O'Reilly, both psychologically and politically.

Sheldon said...

"What O'Reilly is doing is creating a category of Americans - like the Germans did - who are by definition unAmerican."

I think you are on to something important here. This is what I notice from alot of right-wing commentators. They spend an incredible amount of time stereotyping "liberals-sps" etc. into these despicable enemies, and dismissed as not "true Americans". Its really bizarre when you take a step back and look at it.

I finally got a post off at my blog (sorry for the broken link there, fix it tommorow)where I said,
"Apparently, according to some (many?) contemporary conservative pundits, membership (i.e. citzenship) in the nation called America is not based on birth or naturalization. Instead it is based on conformity to a narrow set of beliefs and behaviours that Christian conservatives approve of."

Also, check out the very relevant Chomsky quote at the end, and feel free to use it as a quote of the day if you like it.

Hume's Ghost said...


I wish I could remember what post that discussion is from ... I tried looking for it myself but I couldn't find it. Odd thing is, when I was going through my archives about a month ago and I came across it. If I can find it I'll throw up a new post linking to it.


If you haven't been reading Neiwert's blog, or the essay he's written on this subject, I'd recommend it, since he's been covering this pseudo-fascist creep with the conservative movement moving towards metastasizing into a political religigion in a lot more depth than I have.

I'm working on another post that I'll have up in a day or two about this same subject.

I'll check out your blog.

Also, this post I wrote at Unclaimed Territory last year might be on interest to you, as I've been slowly working on developing this theme for a while now, although my year descent into madness put me back a bit ...

From the post:

We must answer Coulter and her ilk, because unanswered their hateful rhetoric creeps into society, meant to divide us from our friends, family, and fellow Americans. The reason these pundits are incapable of disagreeing with someone without first labeling an opponent as liberal, Democrat, socialist, far left, moonbat, communist etc. (and the same can go for those who do the reverse) is because their tribal binary logic requires them to identify an outgroup, a "them" to be excluded, or worse, eliminated.