Sunday, March 07, 2010

The shrinking gap between mainstream conservative rhetoric and extremist rhetoric

Media Matters notes that you can find this charming rhetoric at Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism website:

Mark Steyn is always right, whether he's writing about Andrew Lloyd Webber or, in this case, the suicide-bomber-in-chief, Barack Obama, who doesn't much care how many Democrats get sent to the electoral Elysian Fields -- or even whether he gets a second term -- as long as he can blow up the capitalist system from within. Excuse me -- effect "fundamental change." And what better way to get Hussein's camel's nose under your hospital gown than by taking over the American health-care system, all under the guise of "reform?"
That's quite a despicable achievement, being flatly defamatory and coyly racist while employing violent imagery to depict the president as being a foreign, terrorist enemy within.

That's the sort of rhetoric you might expect to be confined to the political fringes, but there it is on a mainstream conservative website.

This sort of mainstreaming and normalization both helps to close the gap between what is considered the extremist fringe and mainstream conservatism, but it also fuels and helps to legitimize the violent paranoia of genuine extremists. Extremists like the Oak Keepers who have received endorsement from such mainstream figures as Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs.

Oath Keepers is officially nonpartisan, in part to make it easier for active-duty soldiers to participate, but its rightward bent is undeniable, and liberals are viewed with suspicion. At lunch, when I questioned my tablemates about the Obama-Hitler comparisons I'd heard at the conference, I got a step-by-step tutorial on how the president's socialized medicine agenda would beget a Nazi-style regime.

I learned that bringing guns to Tea Party protests was a reminder of our constitutional rights, was introduced to the notion that the founding fathers modeled their governing documents on the Bible, and debated whether being Muslim meant an inability to believe in and abide by—and thus be protected by—the Constitution. I was schooled on the treachery of the Federal Reserve and why America needs a gold standard, and at dinner one night, Nighta Davis, national organizer for the National 912 Project, explained how abortion-rights advocates are part of a eugenics program targeting Christians.
See, when Glenn Beck calls himself a modern day Paul Revere warning that "the British are coming" or a modern day Thomas Paine trying to inspire resistance to the tyranny of a fascist/communist/black nationalist 100 year conspiracy to create an "economic holocaust" in order to destroy America, slaughter Americans, and install some form of one world totalitarian government, there are people who take him seriously.

The Oak Keepers is made up of former military who are preparing to wage war with the evil progressive nightmare state that Glenn Beck and writers like the one at Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism keep warning them about. Call me crazy, but I don't think democracy works too well if the mainstream base of one of the only two viable political parties in the country panders to violent and extremist paranoids contemplating civil/revolutionary war to "eradicate" the "progressive cancer" everytime the other party wins an election.

Oscar Wilde quipped that "when the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers." Maybe the conservative mainstream might want to consider the implications of their rhetoric and consider if they really want their war prayers answered.

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