Parade of Fanatical Ignoramuses
Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 01:49 AM EDT
It is almost becoming a ritual in our house these days. At the end of a long day at work, the wife and I turn on MSNBC and watch, stunned, as Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart put on the parade of angry right wing lunatics. We sit, mouths agape, as we see manufactured rage at town halls over something tangential to health care, we see Glenn Beck weeping over something called â€œoligarhyâ€ and a whole circus of birthers, deathers, truthers, tenthers, and every other sort of â€œ-erâ€ you can think of (except â€œthinkersâ€). Obama is a Nazi, or a communist, or the antichrist, or the Hamburgler, or whatever.
My wife canâ€™t stand it anymore, and is more inclined to change the channel to the new show about hoarders on A&E. But I always like to watch my friends in the liberal media take down the hypocrites, the liars, the ignorant. Besides, at first they all seemed harmless, a silly distraction, the easily-provoked getting riled up by an otherwise impotent minority party. But the more I consider what Iâ€™ve been hearing, the more I sense a more fundamental problem with an aspect of American culture, something dark.
To give you an idea, take a look at this foreboding interview with Frank Schaeffer, a former founding father of the Religious Right and now impassioned critic of wingnut zealotry.
Schaeffer calls the angry fanatics â€œbeyond crazy,â€ a â€œfifth column of insanity,â€ particularly in their enmity toward Obama (the original subject of the interview), but I think that lets them off the hook. He notes that this pseudo-fundamentalist subculture is conditioned to â€œreject facts,â€ and I think that gets closer to the point. The rage and racism (more on that word in a bit) here is the result of a willful ignorance on the part of millions who know exactly what theyâ€™re doing. Theyâ€™re not insane, they are opting out of reality.
Which leads me, as one might guess, to Rush Limbaugh. I donâ€™t care to simply quote mine Limbaugh to prove some kind of point about what a blowhard he isâ€“this is like explaining that fire is hot. Instead, I want to use a recent diatribe of his as an example of exactly the kind of thing Schaeffer is talking about.
If you read any liberal-leaning blog, you already know about Limbaughâ€™s stupid tantrum about the white student who was beat up on a school bus by black students, in which Limbaugh belched, â€œWe need segregated buses.â€
This is revolting and offensive enough on its own, but a full reading of the transcript shows that this isnâ€™t really what Limbaugh was getting at per seâ€“donâ€™t worry, Iâ€™m not defending him, because itâ€™s really worse than you think. Limbaugh said:
Itâ€™s that term â€œObamaâ€™s Americaâ€ that kept haunting me as I heard this. That Rush Limbaugh and those like him harbor racist feelings and resentments is not news. But what is striking about this serving of rhetorical vomit is how it attempts to make white racism against blacks acceptable again, but uses a perversion of the phraseology of identity politics and manufactured umbrage. The important message of Limbaughâ€™s monologue is not â€œletâ€™s bring back segregated buses,â€ itâ€™s really, â€œYou see? Black people have always been the problem!â€ He feels the racists have had their point proved: In Obamaâ€™s America, white kids get beat up and white men get blamed for everything, while their wealth is stolen by blacks (and gays). Another way he might have put it: â€œWe let the blacks have a shot at being in charge, and now your kids arenâ€™t safe from black people.â€
Frank Schaeffer said something else that is spot on, that we canâ€™t â€œreorganize village life to suit the village idiot.â€ But we do have to wake the village up, assemble a legitimate town meeting, and make sure everyone knows that the village idiot has formed a posse, and itâ€™s headed this way.
This article originally appeared on Near Earth Object.