My boyfriend and I were in a Borders bookstore last night, and in the politics section I saw a paperback copy of Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism on a shelf right above Glenn Beck’s hardcover Arguing with Idiots. (That Glenn Beck should accuse others of being “idiots” with “small minds” — that’s mind-blowing…)
I picked up and placed the copy of The Origins of Totalitarianism immediately to the right of Beck’s Arguing with Idiots, giving something of the effect above, as it seems so appropriate: If Beck wants to dress and act like a Nazi, well, then, if the jackboot fits, then he should wear it (and he probably does wear jackboots, prancing around in them in private…). And further, it seems to me that Beck and his ilk indeed could be the originators of an American totalitarianism that would make the Taliban jealous.
Of course, the battle between the left and the right rages beyond the politics sections of bookstores, where it’s common to see books representing the political opposition (usually progressives) turned around so that their covers are obscured. (Books featuring the visages of our lesser-evolved primate cousins also have appeared juxtapositioned to books whose covers feature Barack Obama’s face. Ha ha ha! Racism is so funny!)
President Obama has even chimed in on the national political “vitriol,” but the common assertion that the left is just as guilty as is the right in denigrating the national political discourse — a myth that even Obama himself occasionally parrots, in an apparently well-meaning but woefully misguided attempt to be fair and balanced, to spread the blame around, whether it’s actually factually accurate to do that or not — is fucking bullshit.
The right always has been more rabid, more racist, more ignorant, more hateful and more willing to resort to aggression to get what it wants than has the left. In the past decade alone, the American right resorted to stealing presidential elections, started a bogus major war, and gave the rich such tax cuts that, coupled with the hundreds of billions of dollars sunk into the bogus Vietraq War, resulted in a record federal budget deficit that the right now blames on Obama, and the right has created a surreal, down-the-rabbit-hole national political climate in which it’s deemed perfectly fine to piss hundreds of billions of the taxpayers’ dollars away on the war profiteers, such as Dick Cheney’s Halliburton, but it’s “socialism” to actually spend a fucking penny of the taxpayers’ money on the taxpayers.
And I don’t recall any leftists having spat on Repugnican lawmakers on Capitol Hill during the eight long nightmarish years of the Bush regime’s unelected rule, or calling them epithets, or hurling bricks through their office windows. I don’t recall any Democratic politicians talking about “reloading” and using the symbol of a gun-sight crosshairs to target their political opponents.
I only wish that the peacenik lefties were nearly as guilty as are the wingnuts in being rhetorically or even actually aggressive.
Lefties almost always have to remain above it all, such as how Al Gore had to remain above it all and just allowed Team Bush to steal the White House in late 2000.
The results of “remaining above it all” and just allowing the wingnuts to wreak their havoc upon the nation are plain to see in the smoking ruins of the nation that the treasonous members of the unelected Bush regime left behind when they finally were forced from the White House. There comes a point where “remaining above it all” no longer is remaining above it all at all, but is a dangerous dereliction of duty to democracy.
Also at Borders last night I saw a copy of Chris Hedges’ Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, the premise of which, I understand from its back cover, is that the switch from a primarily print culture to a primarily audiovisual culture has resulted in a dangerous dumbing down of the United States of America, a danger to the nation’s democracy, which cannot survive when so many of its citizens are dumbfucks. (I’m buying Hedges’ book on amazon.com, as paying full cover price when I don’t have to pains me too much.)
I’m all for greater literacy, but just as it has hijacked our democracy, the right wing has hijacked what remains of the print culture. Chillingly, I long have seen far more wingnut books than progressive books on amazon.com’s top-100-selling books list.
The right wing is busily rewriting American history to suit is ideology in a way that would make George Orwell’s history-revising Big Brother jealous. And the stupid-white-male authors and broadcast pundits who have the audacity to liken themselves to the nation’s founding fathers are as much like the founding fathers as the likes of Pat Robertson and the pedophile-protecting Pope Palpatine are like Jesus Christ.
Sure the wingnuts read books, you say — but they read right-wing revisions not only of American history, but right-wing revisions of American principles. And then they inflict their ignorance upon the rest of us.
In their “tea party” bullshit, the wingnuts actually equate the nation’s declaration of its independence from the oppressive English monarchy to their dislike of the democratically elected American president whom they don’t like primarily because he’s black and because their old-white-guy candidate lost the election, 46 percent to Obama’s 53 percent.
The wingnuts also have hijacked the term “common sense,” both as a noun and an adjective. Sarah Fucking Palin-Quayle can’t shut the fuck up about “common-sense” this and “common-sense” that, and, of course, Glenn Beck put out a book titled Glenn Beck’s Common Sense, as though a dry-drunk baby boomer like Glenn Fucking Beck is really on the same level as is Thomas Paine.
And that’s what the term “common sense,” as the wingnuts use it, is meant to achieve: It’s meant to say that you don’t have to be educated, that you don’t have to work at attaining knowledge and wisdom. “Common sense,” as Beck and Palin-Quayle and their ilk use the term, means that whatever utter bullshit that you pull out of your mentally lazy, ignorant, wingnutty ass is the gospel fucking truth — because you say so.
In her chapter titled “Junk Thought” in her worthwhile The Age of American Unreason, author Susan Jacoby talks about “the folk belief in the superior wisdom of ordinary people.”
“Folk belief” there is the key.
Ordinary people can become intelligent and wise — but not without doing the work.
There are no shortcuts, although that is what the right wing promises its followers: Simply wearing a lapel pin of the U.S. flag makes a politician “patriotic,” and simply reading a book by Sarah Palin-Quayle or Glenn Beck makes one “politically educated.” (And, of course, simply declaring onself “saved” makes one “saved.”)
Listening to — or even reading — the likes of Beck or Palin-Quayle or Rush Limbaugh, because their retrogressive, reality-evading worldview is comforting in rapidly changing, rapidly diversifying times, doesn’t cut it.
Ignorance will destroy the nation, and the fight against the right wing ultimately is the fight against ignorance.
A return to a fact- and reality-based print culture, as many authors (such as Jacoby and Hedges and yes, even Al Gore) have recommended probably is the answer. The Internet, I suspect, already has been playing a large role in bringing Americans back from the purely audiovisual, purely one-way medium of television to an interactive print culture. Sure, there’s plenty of garbage on the Internet, but there’s plenty of quality stuff available, too.
I, for one, stopped watching television years ago, after all of the major, corporately owned and operated TV networks treated the unelected Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unprovoked and unjust March 2003 invasion of Iraq as an entertainment or sporting event (“shock and awe!”) instead of covering it journalistically — that is, critically, intelligently and objectively. And I credit the Internet with having facilitated my political knowledge and activism.
Of course, the wingnuts are on the ’Net, too.
But the more that the nation returns to a fact- and reality-based national political dialog, the less the right wing can survive.
Ignorance is the right wing’s oxygen, and the way to snuff out the right wing is to deprive it of its oxygen.