Cheerleader Tryouts for Death Squads


I selected the title for this post to highlight the cause and effect relationship I see between the collective message of the raucous talking heads of rightwing radio and TV in the US, and recent events and atrocities occurred in the name of political opposition to the leftward course of US political economy and administrative policy. The global economic collapse that started with the policies of the Reagan Government and finished by that of W. Bush, culminated in the election of Barack Obama to the US Presidency, and the scattering of the forces of Republicanism into a richly-deserved disarray of evangelicals, demagogues, bankers and the media flacks and others amorally predisposed to suck sustenance from the oceans of wealth produced by maintaining oligarchs at the top of the economic heap, and at public expense.

These voices from the extreme right, and the mindless internalization of all they espouse by true believers in American exceptionalism, have a similar position in American life as did media supporters of the power elites in the Third World who were responsible for dispatching death squads,  often on the American dime, to brutalize and kill  citizens attempting to change their societies for the better, in the same ways America is trying today. They are cheerleaders for a way of governance that is selfish, corrupt, inhumane, and to the extent that it encourages zealots to think they are on a mission from God if they go out and take the life of anyone detested and vilified by  the mouthpieces of the ugly right, they are criminal inciters to hate crimes and they deserve to be muzzled as such. It doesn’t seem farfetched at all that, allowed to continue their venomous oral ejaculations, life in the US could subside into a monstrous version of the last century’s epic national abortion that was US involvement in El Salvador.

When George Lakoff writes about “frames”, in terms of the way people choose to present arguments or ideological positions, and likewise the way we interpret and understand the postions presented to us, he generally can be counted on to instruct us in the ways of progressive thinking, and how we fail to frame our ideas as effectively as does right-wing opposition to it. Writing for Truthout about the spurious arguments driving opposition to President Obama’s pick of Sonia Sotomayor to replace David Souter on the US Supreme Court, he concludes: “Above all, Democrats should be aware that the attack on Sotomayor is not just about Sotomayor. It is an attack on the basis of our democracy and must be answered.” The premise is that the definition of empathy depends on who is invoking the concept to frame their presentation. The right has done it more effectively, and Sotomayor’s “empathy” is the latest example.

This touches a raw nerve for me, already smarting from multiple exposure to some of the vilest events and blather about them coming from the right that I can remember in my lifetime. The odious, utterly surreal spectacle of the likes of Pat and Bay Buchanan braying about anti-white racism as if the examples they think they see of it, are equivalent to the monstrous crime against humanity represented by the history of black slavery in America simply leave one speechless before it. Likewise the endless litany of canards spewed by Bill O’Reilly, in defense of his inciteful diatribes against Dr. George Tiller, the abortion doctor murdered in his church recently, gives one an inkling of how the caffeine-addicted clinic rats feel just before they bite themselves in the discomfort of withdrawal. The difference is that this is a withdrawal from humanity.

A thought had been nagging at the base of my consciousness, growing as weeks passed and I continue to inflict doses of Hannity, Coulter, Malkin, Rove, Beck, Cavuto, ad nauseam, much like the SNL sketch where the character spluts out successive sips from a carton of spoiled milk, as if trying to believe the next taste will be somehow less foul than the last. Reading Lakoff’s piece, it finally came to me what I have been trying to put my finger on, i.e. the death squad connection to rightwing media mouths. I can explain it now, but it requires  some history review to get there.

I was too young to be paying attention when America started to get really serious about globalizing the so-called American Way, pursuing an economic form of geopolitics that, anything but new, has its roots in slavery, opium, gold and the empires that grew fat on trade in them. When the Shah was imposed on Iran, Somoza on Nicaragua, Pinochet on Chile, Montt on Guatemala, and others, it was US policy to back them strongly with pronouncements of support and admiration, with money, and most importantly, with CIA connections to facilitate the flow of weapons, funds and personnel, tasked to terrorize and destroy any efforts to oppose these dictators friendly to US efforts to control the economic, social and political fortunes of the countries they ruled. These people are still around; we just don’t hear as much about them because they know we have them under much tighter surveilance in this technology-rapt modern day.

These things, these…people, are a matter of history, and the chauvinistic howling, braying, and bloodthirsty voices from the right today, are of an ideological piece with those responsible for the atrocities committed in the bad old days of US unilateralist interference in the internal politics of other nations, often directed against democratically elected governments of the sort that, when they fawn on America, the US administrations lavish aid and support on them. If, however, a Hugo Chavez, a Salvador Allende, or a Mohammed Mossadegh (and this list just hints at the extent of the problem) should come to power through elections, US administrations have become everyone’s worst enemy, and done so secretly, without the approval of Congress, and certainly without the approval of right-thinking citizenry.

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6 responses to “Cheerleader Tryouts for Death Squads

  1. Greg Brooks-English

    Sounds like when you see all this happening you feel outraged, sad, and hopeless at times…? And you are really longing for justice, fairness, and and world in which everyone can live in peace? Would you agree with this?

  2. I share your desire for a world living in peace, justice and fairness.

    Also, I’m longing for a way to communicate to others so that I do it in a way that others don’t hear as criticism. I’m not saying criticism is bad, just asking the question, is there a way to communicate so that others don’t hear what we are saying as a criticism, but rather as a universal human need that everyone has and can identify with…

    I notice that when I say, “George Bush is evil,” or something like that, what it is really about, in just one example, is my observation that Bush was the leader of launching a war in Iraq that was not approved by Congress or the UN, and when I see that happen I feel so scared, worried, outraged and anxious because my needs (read: universal human needs) for process, accountability, respect and integrity were not met. I would like the US to withdraw from Iraq immediately, and I would like to ask my friends to join in a letter writing campaign to our representatives in Congress. Also, I would like to start a blog discussion here on what we can do in our own individual lives to prevent war from happening and how to live mindfully in the awareness of a larger system of exploitation.

    How do you feel reading all this?

  3. Well, no offense intended, but I feel like I’m being patronized with New Age psychobabble, when the people and forces I’m struggling against are laughing in the collective face, mine included, of all who will allow ourselves to be lulled by this, what they call, “Kumbaya” approach. It is exactly why Lakoff is right when he says the rightwingers push us around when it comes to framing. I’m through with that approach. I’m going to be just as much in their faces as they are in mine, and I’m saying to them, “Frame this, motherfuckers!” I may be hopeless, but as long as I can write and point the bone, I’m not helpless; and this will be my way ’til I go down. I’m as spiritual as the next person, but I’ve given up religion for good.

  4. Jack and Greg,

    I see it both ways. I think it is necessary to de-construct what the right is saying so that we can understand how they think and mislead (if this is the case), not only others but also themselves. And, also, why.

    With this assist in critical thinking the answers can be re-framed to disarm the fuse at the heart of the attackers’ verbal bombs.

    On the other hand, it is also useful to seek and find the hidden core concerns behind the attackers’ barbs – such as core insecurities and fears which give vent to accompanying anger and hate. Perhaps by this process of discovery,
    and self-discovery some can be converted.

    Clear thinking counter-attacks on them may gain supporters who are unable to re-frame the arguments themselves, but the opponents can
    only be transformed when they feel no more threat and can lay down their arms in safety. A rare event indeed!

  5. Greg, you aren’t giving up this thread, are you. I don’t think you ever got around to making your point. You know (and maybe Fred Jeremy doesn’t) that I respect you and your views, I expect you not to be put off when I call you out for pussyfooting. I have a thick skin, young man. Take your shot. You don’t have to fondle me first.

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