Friday, October 31, 2008

"It will only get worse ..."

When a Nazi party official brought Hilter proof that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a forgery in 1930, his curt reply was: "It doesn't matter. The Protocols are still true in principle." It is probably no coincidence that his words echoed [Henry] Ford's own response when confronted with the same facts years before: "The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on." That their lies were predicated on an earlier lie was inconsequential. All the lies dovetailed to a truth of which Ford and Hitler were unwaveringly convinced.
-- Max Wallace, The American Axis
What is most troubling to me is the promotion of hatred as entertainment. Moreover, they [conservative movement propagandists] have actively conspired to fan the flames of viscious hatred aimed at one group in particular: Americans with progressive political views. They speak of "liberals" with the kind of dripping contempt and virulent hostility that used to be associated with racism and sectarian strife. One of the best known right-wing commentators, Ann Coulter, advised her audience that she was in favor of executing an American citizen who had joined the Taliban "in order to physically intimidate liberals by making them realize that they could be killed , too."
-- Al Gore, The Assault on Reason
A few years ago I wrote a post in which I said that Ann Coulter promotes hatred of "liberals" that is comparable to standard forms of ethnic and religious bigotry; that her violent tribalistic rhetoric acts as a sort of corrosive acid dissolving the bonds of democratic society. I'd like to take a moment to look at a case study of precisely the sort of bigotry I was talking about, a bigotry that we'll see indeed parallels standard prejudice.

Which is why we'll be revisiting the Blogs for Victory "Nazism 2.0" post that I linked to on Friday. You'll notice that despite both contributors to the post - Matt Margolis and Mark Noonan - being well aware that the Ashley Todd assault story is a hoax neither has bothered to update the post saying so. Why? Because it's true anyway. Here's Noonan's response in the comments.

What have I to apologize for? The news story came across from credible sources and it is an action entirely in line with normal leftwing tactics - and, indeed, tactics we have seen used in this very election. That this poor woman is suffering from a mental defect doesn’t get your side off the hook for your persistent thuggishness against political opponents. I would have entirely discounted this if I didn’t have scores of examples at my finger tips of leftwingers using violence and intimidation just over the past 8 years or so - and volumes of examples over the past 50 years.

Clean up your side - make it so that any such story will be disbelieved; but don’t ask for an apology from me.
Unbelievable, right? "Tactics we have seen used in this very election," Noonan writes. Really? Black male Obama supporters looking for white female McCain supporters they can molest and mutilate and rob at ATM machines is a "tactic" of Senator Obama and his supporters("leftwingers" in Noonan speak.) As is obvious, even were the story true Noonan and Margolis would be guilty of taking an example of a single individual's behavior and using that to stereotype and demonize an entire class of individuals - and its important to remember that Noonan and Margolis are talking about everyday, mainstream normal American citizens who happen to be Democrats or intend to vote Democrat such as libertarians, liberals, moderates or disenchanted Republicans and conservatives - as violent, fascist Nazi thugs.

This sort of ad hoc thinking where reality is bent and twisted in order to arrive at the negative conclusion one already holds about a target of prejudice is the m.o. of racists. Which is why I find the Stormfront thread about the same fake Ashley Todd story so interesting. Over there you see the same thing going on, with the difference being that instead of the story proving how violent and thuggish Democrats are, the story for the white supremacists proves how violent and thuggish blacks are. And, to borrow Wallace's line, it is probably no coincidence then that the Stormfronters even gave the same rational for not apologizing when they found out the story was a hoax:

I said it was a negro who did it, and crucified him with my words, but you know what? If crimes like this( and much worse then this) weren't committed by blacks on a daily basis, then maybe I would have had reservations about her story. I didn't, and I was wrong, however that still doesn't ease my disdain for the entire negro race, and it still doesn't make them any smarter nor does it make them any less violent, all this did was show that some poor, mentally unstable WHITE woman liked to carve things in her face.
Besides not retracting the fake Zimbabwe style assault story which Margolis asserted is evidence that Obama and his supporters are violent fascists - and here we pause to again reflect on how irresponsible and despicable it is not to bother correcting the record on such a volatile subject as a black male attacking a white female in political violence, most especially in light of the recent news that federal ATF agents arrested two Neo-Nazis for allegedly plotting to kill Obama, shoot to death 88 blacks, and to decapitate 14 more (hold on to that thought, we'll come back to this) - the Blogs for Victory crew has continued on in hysterical paranoia about how dangerous and crazy murderous Democrats are.

The insanity on the left grows apace - from guns fired at a GOPer’s house, to tire slashings at a Palin rally here in Las Vegas, to this story of people issuing death threats over an unfavorable poll result. Get a grip, lefties - When we say things like “Obamessiah”, we’re just making a joke…we didn’t think you’d start to believe he’s a real messiah for whom you will kill the infidels over!
Noonan is outmatched in paranoia only by Michelle Malkin blogroll resident Misha, who also thinks Democrats are fascists and appears to genuinely believe that if Obama becomes president "conservatives" will be the target of a Rwanda style genocide campaign. Yes, he and his readers saw the same story referenced above by Noonan, and began to discuss how they might win Civil War 2.0.

Here’s a hint from an American patriot who has had fucking well ENOUGH of this blatant fascism, fraud and propaganda:While you’re busy trying to think of yet more ways to destroy the democratic process of this nation, pause and allow yourself to ponder this thought for a second:Who have all the guns again? And we’re quite proficient in their use, not to mention that the vast majority of us have sworn an Oath that obliges us to make use of them against all enemies, foreign AND domestic. The latter group would be you, you filthy, fascist scum. No matter how much your fanatical zeal for your Obameinf├╝hrer manages to convince you that you’re scary, tough guys, you’d do well to remember that all of us really are that. And we’re a lot better at taking out the trash too. Years of training will do that for you.

Consider this your last warning
Noonan - who himself has already been expecting Civil War 2 - issued a vague threat in a recent post (I bolded what Noonan emphasized since blockquote puts everything in italics)

Look, Democrats, there’s this thing called “morality”, you should look it up - its rather important to adhere to it, or at least attempt to do so. Among the many aspects of this morality thingy is a bit about fair play - about honesty and a sense of justice. You’re taking a big, nasty dump on America in this year of 2008, and you really need to cut it out. There really, really is a limit beyond which we won’t put up with this nonsense anymore.
Again we can see another parallel. The Stormfronters also think that no matter the outcome of the election, there will be politically motivated violence from a criminal class. For the Stormfronters, the violence will come from blacks and the Jews that enable them; for Blogs for Victory and Misha, "liberals" aka the "American Left." And both think that the election is being rigged and/or votes are being stolen.

Which leads me to a digression: The hysteria from Noonan and Misha over a few death threats to a poll unfavorable to Obama is completely disconnected from reality. I don't doubt that such a thing occurred, but how does one possibly link that to Senator Obama? Is Obama out there hitting up the campaign trail saying that "conservatives" are trying to steal the election with polls unfavorable to him? Has he done anything to generate a backlash against unfavorable polls? No, of course not. But in contrast, the McCain campaign has been hitting up the campaign and even a primetime presidential debate saying that ACORN is trying to steal the election (with fraudulent minority votes, AM radio and the Malkin-sphere reminds us) and that ACORN is an imminent threat to democracy. And guess what? ACORN offices have been vandalized and e-mails full of racist invective and death threats have been pouring in.

Now Margolis and Noonan believe that any incident they can find - real or imagined - of thuggish behavior means that Obama is the next Hitler and that the "American Left" are Nazis. So why can't we now say that the "American Right" are Nazis and that McCain is the next Hitler? Well, they can't say it because they are Manichean authoritarians, and we won't say that because it isn't true. What is true is that the McCain campaign's baseless accusations against ACORN are irresponsible and highly unethical and that it does bear burden of responsibility for helping to whip up the violence inclined American "right-wing" to such a level of furor.

Which brings up back to the 2 Neo-Nazis who just got arrested for a half-baked horrific plot to kill Obama and 104 black people by gun shot and decapitation. Here we have Margolis and Noonan talking about Obama being a Nazi based upon a fake black on white hate crime story while actual Nazis - who are motivated to violence by stories like the one Noonan and Margolis won't retract - are out there trying to kill Obama. It's sickening, and it's why I call such writings that don't display overt prejudice but still accomplish the same thing - like, for example, Neal Boortz wanting to purge poor "socialist" "parasites" from the voter rolls - as "functionally racist."
I'm also reminded of David Neiwert's objection to Jonah Goldberg's white-washing out of existence actual American fascists in order to - as Blogs for Victory and Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller are doing - depict "liberals" as fascists. Ok, digression over.

What the Blogs for Victory crew, Misha, and the Stormfronters share in common is an unwavering belief that the target of their hate is a criminal subhuman; therefore they pick out or make up their own reality to fit that predetermined "knowledge". Which is why it's no surprise to see the Victory bloggers using typical eliminationist rhetoric to describe Democrats.

Matt Margolis, author of the unretracted "Nazism 2.0" post, has previously said that the book he and Noonan wrote - which was published by the same people who brought us the children's indoctrination classic Help! Mom! There are liberals Under my Bed! - shined a light on the corruption of the cockroaches known as Democrats.

From top to bottom, the Democratic party is corrupt...the only thing which has changed is that in today's world, the truth will come out, thanks to the internet and the blogosphere. The corrupt cockroaches have always been able to scurry out of the light, but now they're running out of places to hide.
Quick question: what do you personally do to cockroaches that have run out of places to hide? Right, then - that's the metaphor that's being implicitly invoked to envision what needs to be done to Democrats.

And in an older rant that would feel at home in the German Propaganda Archive, another author at the site talks about the life destroying, deceitful "dems."

Trying to make a lie stick to the wall by being totally oblivious to its obvious transparency, the dems are overplaying their hands, in much the same manner as they overplayed their hands during the Valerie Plame fiasco, the "Koran flushing (non)incident," and countless other causes du jour that in the end have not only left egg on their faces, but actually destroyed lives in their scorched-earth zeal to drum up some kind of relevance in the face of an agenda otherwise marked by abject tenuity. Hoping against hope that something will stick, the neo-socialists continue their painfully pitiful and scurrilous attacks, hoping that by murdering the messengers, they will no longer have to scurry like the cockroaches that they are when the light of truth is shone upon their unscrupulous existence.
Same author, in different rant accusing anyone and everyone who does not unconditionally, uncritically, mindlessly, and endlessly cheerlead for "victory" in Iraq as guilty of treason because of their sinister desire to gain power by stabbing America in the back.

But, to the democrats and willing RINOs [Republicans In Name Only]--the Murthas, the Pelosis, the Kerrys, (and yes, the [Republican] Hagels)-- opposition to our efforts in Iraq has never been, nor is now, about "supporting the troops" nor of the successful completion of their mission.

Rather, it has, and has always been about a Machiavellian quest to obtain and maintain power, no matter the cost, no matter who or what is jeopardized in the process; even to the extent of throwing the security of their own nation under the bus to achieve their nefarious political ends.

Some have been afraid to say it, but I'll say it unabashedly and scream it from the rooftops:

The "antiwar" democrats (and their willing RINO accomplices), who offer capitulation as the only alternative, are TRAITORS, in the most pejorative sense of the word.

They deserve no quarter, and deserve to be called out for who they are.

It's about time that the light of truth is shown upon these cockroaches for all the world to see.

Charming stuff.

Of course, this sort of rhetoric isn't unique to blogs like these. Rush Limbaugh has himself equated liberals with cockroaches and Melanie Morgan has gone a step further and actually suggested killing a "cockroach" (i.e. Eric Soltz). And there is no shortage of eliminationist rhetoric equating Democrats, "liberals" and RINOs with treason and villainy within the conservative movement (e.g. here); nor would you struggle to find examples of "liberals," Democrats, or Obama being compared/equated with Nazis and fascists. Media Matters has a round-up of media figures (one of which, of course, is Ann Coulter) comparing Obama to Nazis and Hitlers just since October 16; and today Bill Cunningham - who previously stated that he believes Obama might be the AntiChrist - said that "Obama wants to gas the Jews."

So let's move on the post title. The quote is take from this blog post by George Packer, who upon reading Jon Swift's satire of the ludicrous conspiracies that anti-Obama bloggers have generated, compared the habit of mind of those bloggers to the conspiracies generated by Arab nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists in Iraq.

The mental atmosphere is exactly the same—the wild fantasies presented as obvious truth, the patterns seen by those few with the courage and wisdom to see, the amused pity for anyone weak-minded enough to be skeptical, the logic that turns counter-evidence into evidence and every random piece of information into a worldwide conspiracy. Above all, the seething resentment, the mix of arrogance and impotent rage that burns at the heart of the paranoid style in politics.
Packer concludes by stating that if Obama is elected this sort of behavior will get worse. Which is exactly right - we can expect a non-stop stream of crazy conspiracies to be generated by these bloggers and the propaganda machine of the conservative movement. And this is because the conservative movement as a whole will be thrown into hysterical, paranoid panic the moment a Democrat takes office because they have a Manichean world view: a Democrat in office to them means America is under the rule of Evil. As Shadia Drury put it:

The American Right feels as if it is being held hostage by liberal society. This beleaguered mentality goes hand in hand with a world-view that is as demonic as it is dualistic. It is demonic in the sense that it sees the world as overrun by the forces of evil (now called liberalism) and dualistic because it regards its political opponents as the incarnation of cosmic evil.
I've previously described the mental process of Packer's paranoid bloggers as thus

Stage 1: "Liberals" are wrong
Stage 2: ?
Stage 3: "Liberals" are wrong

Like for the Underpants Gnomes, Stage 2 is a magic step (A.L. beat me to this analogy by about a year) which generates the desired outcome. Movement conservative "know" that "liberals" are wrong or liars or hypocrites or whatever the particular scenario calls for, they start with this premise and end with it as a conclusion. The in-between is coming up with the "evidence". But they approach this endeavor like the creationist looking for "evidence" that evolution is false, and [this]explains why being disproven (over and over again) does not lead them to abandon course. They just keep coming up with reckless accusation after reckless accusation.
Which was my crude way of independently observing the same thing that psychologist Robert Altemeyer had noticed doing research into authoritarianism

[I]f authoritarian followers like the conclusion, the logic involved is pretty irrelevant. The reasoning should justify the conclusion, but for a lot of high RWAs, the conclusion validates the reasoning. Such is the basis of many a prejudice, and many a Big Lie that comes to be accepted.
My favorite example of this was when Michelle Malkin and her Hot Air editor Bryan Preston fabricated a confession of treason from New York Times editor Bill Keller. When some commenters pointed out in the comments that the footage used by Malkin had been doctored, Preston answered that he did it because the proves what Preston already believes (i.e. that the Times is treasonous) even though the full quote demonstrates the opposite.

A more recent example of the paranoid hysteria that is a defining characterstic of the Malkin-sphere is the response that a Joe Biden interview with a local reporter - whose questions were so farcical that she may have put Stephen Colbert out of business as satire will now be nigh impossible - generated. After the Obama campaign decided to not conduct anymore interviews with that reporter Michelle Malkin asked her readers to keep her "in your thoughts and prayers" as if she's in some sort of danger or is a martyr for the conservative cause.

This tendency to look for or create confirming evidence of what you already believe about a target of prejudice is on display vividly when Bill O'Reilly or Michelle Malkin and their followers work themselves into a frenzy over some anonymous comments that they've found which they proclaim to indicate how angry and dangerous and extremist "the Left" (i.e. "liberals") are. This is another area in which we can draw a parallel to standard forms of bigotry, as Glenn Greenwald previously pointed out when responding to the same subject

It is hard to overstate how pervasive this lowly and manipulative weapon is wielded by right-wing demagogues to shape our political debates. LGF's simplistic trick, for instance, is to post individual stories every day of Muslims who engage in violent acts ("hey, look - I proved that Muslims are inferior and dangerous!"). Michelle Malkin repeatedly posts individual stories of supposed leftists engaging in illegal or violent acts ("hey, look -- I proved that liberals are unhinged"). Or the right finds a single obscure college professor nobody ever heard of who referred to 9/11 victims as "Little Eichmanns" ("hey, look - we proved that 'the Left' hates America and believes that the 9/11 victims deserved it!").

Those who rely on that cheap, tawdry tactic are really indistinguishable -- just in terms of the methods -- from, say, websites run by white supremacists who, every day, troll the news wires and post individual stories of crimes committed by African-Americans and then think that they've made a broader point. In that context, most people can see how transparently fallacious the tactic is, but in other contexts, they are blind to it.
Blogger's Note - I'm not actually finished with this post, but I wanted to go ahead and put this part up. Hopefully I'll be finished editing the rest and will have it up later tonight or tomorrow soon. I really have everything I want to write done, but am having trouble arranging and articulating my thoughts to my satsifaction so I'm taking a break from it. When I finish I'll republish this post at the top of the page with the final section added in.

2 comments:

FITTER HAPPIER said...

"The corrupt cockroaches have always been able to scurry out of the light, but now they're running out of places to hide."

"...It's about time that the light of truth is shown upon these cockroaches for all the world to see."

These passages could've easily been lifted VERBATIM from Hutu Power Radio just before and during the Tutsi genocide of Rwanda. "Cockroaches" and all the imagery these US rightwingers use are IDENTICAL.

I've believed for a long time the rise of these people in the US is nothing but the US equivalent of Hutu Power Radio. And this is considered "acceptable discourse" in the US!

Paul said...

Good post, HG. There's a lot to think about there. I suspect these superficially differing ideologies are manifestations of the same underlying cause -- a cause which is not purely ideological, but in fact profoundly psychological. That is, the authoritarian temperament or personality. I believe one way to combat those ideologies is to expose the underlying pathology of the temperament that creates them. But that's just my hunch.