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Monday, November 23, 2009

FAR-RIGHT INSANITY: THEN AND NOW


It is easy to think that lying, irresponsible, egomanaical far-right extremist formentors of fiction like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are a relatively new phenomenon in American culture and politics. But that supposition is not at all true.

Our penchant for free speech and the free exchange of ideas has made the United States unique in the history of the world. We have produced profound, noble, hopeful, unifying, and forward-looking thinkers like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, to name but a few, whose ideas and principles have inspired millions and are quoted and held in high esteem all across the globe to this day. Theirs has been a language of universality, optimism, equal opportunity, and inclusiveness. It has provided great and lasting food for thought for the whole world.

But we have also produced shallow preachers of hatred, fear, mistrust, division, and backward-looking thinking. Modern far-right conservatives and Republicans like Beck, Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Mivchelle Malkin, Dick and Ann Cheney, John Boehner, Sarah Palin, Pete Hoekstra, and Michele Bachmann fit into this category. They wallow in humankind's baser instincts of narcissim, nervousness, and self-promotion. Such shallowness does little to inspire others and, as such, these people will have little wide or lasting impact on humanity. Theirs has been the language of individuality, pessimism, skepticism, dishonesty, and exclusivity. Having little to offer others, it will be deservedly forgotten in the long run.

We are currently being bombarded by non-stop barrages of anti-Obama and anti-progressive thought from far-right extremists, many of whom have already been mentioned above. There is a common thread of underlying racism, hatred, fear, mistrust, and outright falsehood in their pronouncements. From the Cheney duo's accusations of the President's "dithering" on Afghanistan (thereby allegedly placing the country in dire jeopardy), to Sarah Palin's ridiculous claims that he "pals around with domestic terrorists" and his health care reform agenda will establish "death panels", to Glenn Beck's patently absurd charge that he is a "racist" and "hates white culture", to teabaggers' fears that our taxes will skyrocket, to Birthers' assertions that he wasn't born here and is not a citizen (or he is actually an America-hating Muslim), to Charles Grassley's statement that health care reform will "throw grandma under the bus", to Rush Limbaugh's (and many others')litanies that Obama's stimulus plan and health care initiatives are "socialistic" - all of these claims and insinuations are preposterous.

It has long been a trait of the far-right to exaggerate, distort, lie, and attack. Fr. Coughlin warned that FDR's New Deal would destroy capitalism. Didn't happen; in fact, his measures SAVED capitalism. Joie McCarthy had people believing that communists were everywhere and that Democrats were aiding and abetting them. Communists WEREN'T everywhere, and we ended up defeating them. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush told us regulation of business was bad and that "government isn't the solution, it's the problem." Yet when government regulation was lifted on energy speculators and mortgage bankers, gasoline shot up to $4 per gallon and the economy nearly went into another Great Depression.

The far-right has nothing to offer this country or the world by preaching fear, laissez-faire economics, ultra-conservative religion, and outright lies.

If you look at the illustration below, which I obtained from a recent post on the superb blog Down With Tyranny, you'll see it is a hate sheet circulated about President Kennedy just before his assassination in 1963. He, just like President Obama, was also the target of unfounded, lying, hateful rumors. There was no internet in those days, and no cable or satellite TV, so there was a far more miniscule venue for the far-right to preach its lies and hatred. Substitute the words "terrorists" or "Muslims" for the word "communist", and you'll see this is a perfect proof of the existence of far-right insanity: then AND now. The language used is eerily similar to what we see today, as is the method of presenting unsubstantiated accusations designed to alarm people. A look at some of the many far-fetched and inaccurate claims against Kennedy which have been thoroughly disproven by history show how far removed from reality those attacks were, as are the attacks against Obama now. The writers of this pamphlet were the teabaggers of their day, and were equally as unbalanced and insane as our current far-right extremists. (CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO ENLARGE FOR EASIER READING).



The far-right has nothing to offer this country or the world by preaching fear, laissez-faire economics, ultra-conservative religion, and outright lies.

15 comments:

Oso said...

hi Jack,
very good points you bring up here-the current crop of right wing dirt bags are awful but I guess their ilk has always been with us,just the means of dissemination of their lies has changed with the internet,cable TV,etc.
That Kennedy thing was amazing. Very Limbaugh Beck Malkin. Guess I didn't realize how deep that rot has always been from the right.

BigmacInPittsburgh said...

Funny how the rightwing lies and distortions seem to gain traction when the economy is in the pits.None seem to get the attention when the folks who fall for their lies are busy at work!

mud_rake said...

There will always be a knot of malcontents who do not want to see this nation move forward in unity. They think that 'the past' is precious and ought not be changed.

Odd people, for sure, but like roaches and head lice, they are always with us.

SJ said...

@Jack,
the big difference between then and know that you mentioned is the Internet... but let's not forget the 24 hour news and media cycle has also changed the game.

I means that when a lie is put forth, it must be combatted 24 hours a day...
Saints preserve us.
-SJ

SJ said...

"It means"
-SJ

Jack Jodell said...

Oso,
You nailed it. These cavemen are always around; only their spokespersons and issues change from time to time.
---------------
BigMacInPittsburgh,
Hard times always seem to breed more uncertainty and fear. Fear breeds extremism, and often causes the unsure to listen to the loudest voice, or to those who seem to provide the easiest answer. But the loudest voice and the easiest answer do not always provide us with the best result...
---------------
mud_rake,
Yeah, the malcontents are miserable, and misery loves company. And you're right: we always DO have some vermin with us. Today's batch just seems more prevalent because they're shouting all the time at volume 11 or 12, and they have more venues to present their lies and nonsense through than ever before.
---------------
SJ,
Gotcha, my good man, and that is a very valid point. Their lies have not only gained more mediums and frequency, but they are being cleverly targeted to gain broad appeal. Goebbels would be very, very proud of the conservative media for the job it is doing in distributing false propaganda!

TRUTH 101 said...

I think you're on to something about Father Coughlin Jack. Years ago I had a friend that got "saved." He went to this wacky church and he was soon repeating crap he heard about the Kennedys being communists and aborting babies. Other weird nonsense also. The religious zealots that had a hand in starting this false rumor hate campaign have been able to spread their crap farther and faster in the internet age. They don't need to brain wash people into thinking they've been touched by God. They have a steady stream of bigots, homophobes and idiots on the web. The last President based his foreign policy on Armageddon.

May God save us from idiots that think they are chosen.

Jack Jodell said...

Truth101,
I hear you loud and clear. The internet and talk radio are mediums the far right exploits constantly to spread fear and their outright lies. You wouldn't believe some of the wacko shit about Obama that I get emailed from these far right believers. Speaking of believers, the religious right apparently never heard of the eighth commandment, because they're constantly "bearing false witness" against the neighbors they don't approve of.

Manifesto Joe said...

Hi, Jack:

Your mentions of FDR, Father Coughlin's warnings, and then Joe McCarthy bring something to mind.

Oklahoma actually had a surprisingly large and active Communist Party back in the '30s, amid the Depression and the Dust Bowl. Novelist Jim Thompson, then chief of the WPA Writers Project for Oklahoma, was a key member who later dropped out of the party.

Flash forward 50 years. I lived in Oklahoma for 15 months during 1985-86, reporting for a newspaper there. Wow -- I though Texas was redneck and right-wing. It's damned near Berkeley compared to Oklahoma. The biggest minority group in the area where I lived was Comanche Indians, and they were treated even worse than what few black people there were.

Oklahoma seems like an example of how the New Deal reformers eventually became victims of their own successes. After World War II, when Oklahomans became increasingly middle-class and with the typical smugness therein, they took all that stuff like Social Security and union rights for granted, turned right-wing and forgot how such things came about.

TomCat said...

Well done, Jack! SJ's point is also well made. In my lead article today, I didcussed how these cretins harassed and heckeled a woman whose pregnant daughter had just died for the lack of medical coverage. As I have said before, they are trolling for an assassin.

Jack Jodell said...

Manifesto Joe,
It astounds me how Oklahoma has gone from a very worker-oriented and leftist state but is now so far right they elect goofs like Coburn to the Senate! (I sure hope my Minnesota never does an about-face like that! How these bible-belt wingnuts can loudly proclaim themselves as Christians, and then character assassinate all who disagree with them, and elect politicians who favor the rich and trash the poor, is waaaayyyyy beyond me! Absolutely astonishing.
---------------
TomCat,
Thanks, my good man. It's a shame, but the cretins you describe are typical heartless far-right types who are seriously maladjusted and reeally are sociopaths.

Infidel753 said...

Interesting how the religious-extremist thread has always been there. I didn't know they were using the "Anti-Christian" label with Kennedy.

I do think that that element is much more dominant in the far right today, which if anything makes them more dangerous. Religious fanaticism can legitimize extreme action which most people with more reality-based motivations would shrink from. The Psalm 109:8 meme has been especially worrying in that regard.

Extremism can arise from fear of loss of power. The worst far-right violence in American history erupted when groups like the KKK arose in reaction to the loss of the earlier total racial supremacy which they believed was God's will. Today the fundamentalist Christian Right is seeing its former high hopes for dominating and transforming American society slipping away. In people whose thinking already runs to apocalyptic imagery, this creates a dangerous frame of mind.

Jack Jodell said...

Those are very insightful points on the religious right and far right, Infidel753, and I thank you for them. As for the "anti-Christian" reference in that JFK hate pamphlet, I would think they were blaming him for the 1962 Supreme Court decision banning prayer in public schools, which, like most far-right claims, was also utterly insane.

Max's Dad said...

Hey Jack, remember that screaming nut Morton Downey Jr back in the 80's with his mouth breathing mook audience? That was tame compared to these guys of today. The problem is so many people are so unsure of what they believe, they listen to failed Top 40 deejays and former construction workers and tabloid show refugees to get their opinions. They used to sound stupid, ala Archie Bunker, now they just sound stupid, ala Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Reilly.

Jack Jodell said...

Max's Dad,
I DO remember that worthless, aggravating Morton Downey, Jr., and little did I realize then that he would bequeath us with the overabundance of trash-talkers we have today.

I think it's not only uncertainty that builds followers of these extremists. I think most of their followers are poorly informed and simply are responding to the loudest and most repetitive voices they hear...