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.