Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.
— Alvin Toffler, Future Shock
Each time it appears that Republicans can’t get any nastier, any more bereft of morality, they wrap themselves in the flag, grab their guns and Bibles, and manage once again to hit the bottom of the ethical barrel. A good example is Ben Smith’s recent startling revelation in Politico.com, which exposed the dirty tricks Republican National Committee (RNC) operatives were planning to play, not only on Democrats in the upcoming elections — but on their own donors. Smith writes:
Manipulating donors with crude caricatures and playing on their fears is hardly unique to Republicans or to the RNC — Democrats raised millions off George W. Bush in similar terms — but rarely is it practiced in such cartoonish terms.
One page, headed “The Evil Empire,” pictures Obama as the Joker from Batman, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid are depicted as Cruella DeVille and Scooby Doo, respectively.
Ruh-Roh. I can’t help it — that’s good for a grin, albeit a ghoulish one. And the “tchochkes,” or swag, such as T-shirts, tote bags, baseball caps, and other useless crap they planned to give to their donors in exchange for big bucks made some of us laugh out loud.
But that’s just the funny part. The far more frightening aspect is the lengths the rabid radical right — not just the Republican Party — is willing to go in order to destroy President Obama and the “socialist commies” who elected him. They are very open about it; proud to be the “Party of No,” and brag about burying Obama under a burning health-care pyre. Nearly a year ago, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint gloated — “this health-care issue is D-Day for freedom in America…If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”
Former Bush speech writer David Frum admitted to MSNBC’s Ed Shultz on his March 18 show that negotiation has never been on the Republican’s health-care table. Frum said…
It’s critical for everybody, and not just the president. It’s critical for us on the Republican side, too. If this thing passes, there is going to be an accountability moment on the Republican side. We had a choice, do we negotiate and try to get some of our values in the bill? Or do we go for total defeat of the president and bet everything on that?
I was one of those who said negotiate. That advice was rejected. We went for total defeat of the president. If he prevails, it is going to be a shutout of Republican views in one of the most important pieces of legislation ever passed in the United States.
Some are disillusioned with Obama because they feel he has not been forthcoming with his promise of change. They do not seem to realize that, for more than a decade, change in this nation has been overwhelming. Since the Kafkaesque mutation of the Republican establishment, whose metamorphosis into a destructive force was sudden as a result of five right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court stopping the Florida recount in December 2000 and handing the presidency to one of their own even though his opponent won the national popular vote by more than a half million ballots, the change within the Republican party has been nothing less than frenetic.
This is no longer about politics, where opposing sides butt heads, twist arms and kick ass until they manage to agree on legislation that will benefit American citizens on both sides of the aisle. It is not, as Frum said, about merely defeating this president. It is about destroying him; about weaving a noose for him out of lies and dirty tricks; about sending a message to future generations of African Americans that the “White” House means just that.
If you doubt that the right-wing crusade is about race, you are either so oblivious of the past that you see nothing unusual about the present — or you haven’t been to a Tea Party lately. At Tea Parties across the nation, Obama is not only portrayed in hideous caricatures as the Joker, but as others such as Adolf Hitler, Karl Marx, and Osama bin Laden.
Initially, the Tea Party movement was started by Congressman Ron Paul to appeal to Americans who were frustrated and fed-up with such things as taxes and wars, but it was immediately co-opted by right-wing think tanks and by Fox News whose target-eyed pundits brayed 24/7 about a massive “white culture” crusade taking over the nation. Racist hatemongers joined the party, especially Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and,in no time at all, had David Duke, a “white nationalist” and former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, looking like a rank amateur.
These guys aren’t crazy — okay, maybe they are — but they know exactly what they’re doing. They learned from eight years of K-K-Karl Rove and Dick Cheney that fear and hate are the two easiest emotions to work with. Stir in a generous helping of rage, and entire cultures can be manipulated into a frenzy. And, when those emotions feed on racism, a gathering can be turned into a mob, which can then be whipped into a destructive, extremist riot.
In the Spring 2010 Intelligence Report published by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Mark Potok examines the “Rage on the Right.” He writes:
Since the installation of Barack Obama, right-wing extremists have murdered six law enforcement officers. Racist skinheads and others have been arrested in alleged plots to assassinate the nation’s first black president. One man from Brockton, Mass. — who told police he had learned on white supremacist websites that a genocide was under way against whites — is charged with murdering two black people and planning to kill as many Jews as possible on the day after Obama’s inauguration. Most recently, a rash of individuals with anti-government, survivalist or racist views have been arrested in a series of bomb cases.
As the movement has exploded, so has the reach of its ideas, aided and abetted by commentators and politicians in the ostensible mainstream. While in the 1990s, the movement got good reviews from a few lawmakers and talk-radio hosts, some of its central ideas today are being plugged by people with far larger audiences like FOX News’ Glenn Beck and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn). Beck, for instance, re-popularized a key Patriot conspiracy theory — the charge that FEMA is secretly running concentration camps — before finally “debunking” it.
Last year also experienced levels of cross-pollination between different sectors of the radical right not seen in years. Nativist activists increasingly adopted the ideas of the Patriots; racist rants against Obama and others coursed through the Patriot movement; and conspiracy theories involving the government appeared in all kinds of right-wing venues.
The SPLC also reports that just in the first year of the Obama presidency, “an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) — a 244% jump.”
We are falling apart. We have lost our sense of decency, our sense of direction. The past is overtaking us, and will soon be our future. We are surrounded by increasingly violent gun-toting “Patriots” who are eager to water the Tree of Liberty with the blood of loony liberals, Commies, and Socialists — starting with their Black President who, according to the mad dogs on the right, is determined to destroy the freedoms of loyal Americans.
Are we going to stand here, suffering from change shock — too much change in too short a period of time — and do nothing? It’s tempting, but as Chris Hedges warns,
To give up acts of resistance is spiritual and intellectual death. It is to surrender to the dehumanizing ideology of totalitarian capitalism. Acts of resistance keep alive another narrative, sustain our integrity and empower others, who we may never meet, to stand up and carry the flame we pass to them. No act of resistance is useless. … But we will have to resist and then find the faith that resistance is worthwhile, for we will not immediately alter the awful configuration of power. And in this long,long war a community to sustain us, emotionally and materially, will be the key to a life of defiance. As long as we are willing to defy these forces we have a chance, if not for ourselves, then at least for those who follow.
I agree. We must resist — in order to stop the right-wing’s race to destruction before it’s too late — and to change the shock of our children’s future.