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Ellis Weiner

Ellis Weiner

Posted: August 25, 2010 03:06 PM

The Enemy Within! (?)

What's Your Reaction:

I was going to write, "AMERICA IS UNDER ATTACK," and maybe throw up some exclamation points (!!) for effect.

Then I was going to list its attackers: the Republican Party, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, the lunatic blogosphere (Pamela Geller, etc.), the always-wrong blogosphere (The Corner, etc.), Mitch "The Smooth Man" McConnell, the Clown Prince of Politics, Newt Gingrich and, yes, the Tea Baggers and Partiers whose analysis stops with naming Obama America's Designated Hitler (h/t David Yazbek), Franklin Graham, Fox "News," and all the other pro-am propagandists, from the mega-wealthy who fund the "grass-roots" movements, to the dumb-as-kale little people, who march around in period costume, proudly waving their misspelled signs and advancing the cause of their rich masters, and who end up with nothing to show for it except unemployment, state fair servings of deep-fried butter, and "freedom."

That was all one sentence! I'm exhausted. Still...

I was going to write, "Everything the political right has done since September 11, 2001 has benefited al-Qaeda and proved Osama bin Ladin to be either a tactical genius or the luckiest terrorist mastermind in history."

I was going to write, "Bin Ladin and al-Qaeda needn't mount a single additional terrorist assault on the U.S. for the next decade. With that one act, they not only hit pay dirt, they excavated and developed the entire end zone. They inspired the political right to goad and bully the spineless Democrats into joining them as they:

* promoted a lie-based invasion of a country that was no threat to us, opening up a summer camp for terrorists and devastating the Federal budget with its expense

* committed and defended torture

* violated our own laws regarding habeas corpus

* abrogated or ignored international laws of which the U.S. is a signatory

* promoted the basest kind of xenophobic, know-nothing bigotry.

And the bleat goes on. Now, with its campaign of scary-brown-people hysteria concerning the Park51 center (the "Ground Zero Mosque" which, for the tenth time, is not at Ground Zero, and isn't a mosque), the patriotic right has succeeded in alienating an entire new generation of young American Muslims, some of whom will inevitably become radicalized, and mature into the home-grown enemies of the right's self-fulfilling masturbatory dreams."

I was also going to note that this same cynical anti-Islamic campaign, confected by demagogues and lapped up by cretins, also creates new enemies for us abroad. "Why, oh why," I was going to wail, "Does the Republican Party hate America?" Every time a GOP leader trashes the religious liberty and tolerance that America supposedly stands for by promoting Islamophobic bigotry, a jihadist somewhere in Pakistan or Indonesia gets his wings. As was published yesterday by that lefty-pinko Lamestream Media rag, The Wall Street Journal:

Anti-Muslim rhetoric in the U.S is different, since jihadists can use Americans' words to make the case that the U.S. is indeed at war with Islam. The violent postings are not just on al Qaeda-linked websites but on prominent, mainstream Muslim chat forums, Mr. Brachman said.

"We are handing al Qaeda a propaganda coup, an absolute propaganda coup," with the Islamic-center controversy, said Evan Kohlmann, an independent terrorism consultant at Flashpoint Partners who monitors jihadist websites.

I was going to write, "This 'controversy,' meanwhile, has been entirely ignited and fueled by the political right, with the sole purpose of enflaming its know-nothing yahoo shock troops and spreading the literally insane lie that Obama is a) a Muslim, and b) secretly plotting to replace American democracy with a sharia-controlled Caliphate. And why? Because there's an off-year election in November."

I was going to write, "With enemies like the American right, al-Qaeda doesn't need friends. And with friends like the GOP, whose idea of governance is obstruction, nihilism, demagoguery, lies, and tax cuts for the rich, the American people don't need enemies."

I was going to. But then I thought: Should I?

All this ignorance. All this nativist ranting. All this racism. All this class warfare. All this sheer, literal hate, as broadcast and disseminated and amplified and gloated over by a cast of ghouls who are caricatures of themselves, from Limbaugh to Coulter, Palin to Beck, Hannity to Savage, Ingraham to O'Reilly, a Day of the Dead parade of grotesques from whom the outraged patriots of the Tea Parties receive their demented marching orders--is it really a problem?

Sure, 18 percent of polled Americans think Obama is a Muslim. But, in a sense, so what? Ask enough Americans, and you can probably find 18 percent of your respondents who believe that Jesus was a Muslim, "until he converted to Christianity." The thrusting, confident ignorance of the American people is one of our most renewable natural resources.

And sure, large media outlets like Fox and the Washington Times routinely disseminate lies. But to whom? Who believes them? The 18 percent? The famous "27 percenters," who will predictably vote against their own best interests, and then wonder why "the system" sucks?

I know. I bitch and moan about this every two years or so. But I'm trying to convince myself that the current atmosphere, polluted as it is with so much falsehood and idiocy, is still essentially non-toxic.

Then I'm trying to place all that in the current social-economic context and not contemplate what drug commercials call "suicidal thoughts or actions."

So what if those middle-class jobs, and the unions that secured a decent lifestyle from them, and provided families with the income to buy the goods that the middle-class jobs were involved in creating, never come back? So what if the vaunted American Dream--which, whether it includes home ownership or not, essentially stands for upward mobility--will soon be replaced by the American Hallucination of staying-where-you-are-and-not-sinking immobility? So-ho-ho what if we may be witnessing the incipient Brazilianization of the U.S., in which a miniscule portion of the population owns a staggering balance of the wealth, and everyone else--nice people, bad people, smart people, morons, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, cat people, dog people, your friends and neighbors and you. Yes, you--fights over the crumbs, under the watchful eye of private armies?

I start to think: the shrinking access to security--by which I mean, a job--the increasing conflict of all-against-all as fomented by the right, the relentless campaign of the rich to get richer at the expense of the rest of society: Is this really so new? Am I being alarmist? Am I letting my detestation of certain personalities cloud my judgment?

Surely, or probably, or at least maybe, I am. Bad things happen and then good things happen. Economies tank, and then recover. Republicans have always used lies to exploit xenophobia and bigotry. The rich have always manipulated the ignorant for political (in the service of financial) gain. And things have more or less worked out in the long run. I'm getting all cranky and irritable and depressed and despairing for no reason.

Right?