Fighting the Right Wing Terrorists

Jack Turner hits many nails on the head with this essay called, “When Will This White House Learn You Cannot Negotiate With Terrorists?” I’ll highlight one point:

Too often, this White House has sent the signal that it seeks common ground and conciliation with parties interested in its total destruction. From my point of view, negotiating with ignorance, fear, hate and irrationality is insane. For example, when a major Republican figure in the health care negotiations spreads the death panel lie (Grassley), you see him for what he is, realize you’re dealing with a group of psychopaths, and reset the objectives. “Oh, so that’s how it’s gonna be? Cool. Good to know what we’re dealing with. Thanks for your time. We won’t be needing your services anymore. We’re taking our ball and playing somewhere else.” Negotiations require trust and trust assumes that all parties are not completely batshit crazy.

I realize I’m lumping a variety of “opposition” camps together: birthers, deathers, those who accuse the president of racism and those who accuse him of socialism. I’m grouping them because to me they all come from the same place. They’re engaging in a form of terrorism. They are using psychological violence (and occasionally the threat of real violence) to pursue a political objective, and in so doing, inflicting harm upon non-combatants.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the movies, it’s that “The United States of America does not negotiate with terrorists.” Yet this White House is willing to let these psychological terrorists set the terms of the debate and negotiate from their insane positions. One group of people is trying to talk about co-pays. The other thinks the president is a secret Kenyan. One group of people sees the creation of domestic, sustainable jobs as a cornerstone of the 21st century economy. The other thinks the president is going to murder your grandmother. This is not legitimate political discourse and to make decisions acknowledging terms so far apart in their reality is just plain stupid.

It’s time to be done with these crazy sociopaths. But how do you fight someone with a big megaphone and no compulsion to tell the truth (or, I should say, a willingness eagerness to shamelessly lie)? This is a tough one. I don’t condone lying for political gain. Violence is off the table for me. I don’t even like the violence of disrupting assemblies of my opponent.

See the problem? These extremists have justified to themselves that lying is okay, threats of violence are amusing (i.e. carrying guns to Obama rallies), and they have decided that committing the violence of disrupting a public forum is acceptable.

Perhaps Jack Turner and I are both suffering from the same sort of self-delusion that afflicts the right-wing extremists, but these motherfuckers sure seem like terrorists. They really, really have become so extreme in their views that they have become almost indistinguishable from the terrorists we all despise. They love their political party; but, their extremism is inconsistent with any love for America.

So it is time to start treating them as terrorists. Jack’s suggestion is that we no longer negotiate with them. That could help…maybe not a whole lot, but that should happen. Or not happen…you know what I mean.

Keith Olbermann uses another strategy: he wants information on Glenn Beck. And I hope he gets some good information. I don’t mean the idiotic lies (”Glenn Beck raped and murdered a girl in 1990″) that hurts the cause. Keith wants real, verifiable, newsworthy stuff. I hope he gets it. I mean, it’s possible that Beck was arrested for masturbating in the public library as a post-pubescent teen. If so, I hope somebody uncovers it.

What it bothers me is that this kind of thing seems necessary to discredit Beck. He is an unrepentant liar, for crying out loud. He is a propagandist who violates the ethical code of propagandists by completely divorcing his rhetoric from “truthiness.” An objective analysis of his rhetoric can only call to mind Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propagandist who mastered the “Big Lie” technique of repeating even the most absurd lie over and over again, until people believe. Think “death panels.” See?

Tom Brokaw suggests satire could be a useful tool. And Keith Olbermann clearly subscribes to that idea, as does Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and others. But is satire enough?

I’m afraid I don’t have a solution here (and I apologize for leading you this far before admitting that). I am sure there is a useful strategy that is consistent with both American values (Beck and friends have the right to lie) and ethical values (because two lies don’t make a truth—usually). I like the ring of Glenn “Goebbels” Beck and pegging all of their lies as a form of psychological terrorism. But that’s probably not enough.

This is a time for creative ideas.

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One Response to “Fighting the Right Wing Terrorists”

  1. Benjamin Says:

    Remember what happens when people like Ted Haggard from the religious right are outed as hypocrites and liars: it strengthens, rather than weakens, the movement. Lunacy is the impermeable armor of the closed mind. Irrational motivations are opaque to any guiding light. We are fucked.

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