Occasionally I like to go back to my old neighborhood, the blog I contributed to
before I started this one, and toss up a quick post now and again just to keep the damn thing from being covered completely with cobwebs. Recently, this particular post
drew a few predictably inane (and cowardly anonymous) comments, mostly filled with typical right-wing venom, along with the dismissive suggestion from reader Lanz that I should be comfortable with the brickbats, since, "the left does it too." In other words, he believes -- and this is taken as gospel among the members of the conservosphere -- that any and all insults or accusations hurled our way are matched in equal measure by our own writings about conservatives and neocons.
I find this argument specious, and I'll tell you why. You can read through the postings on this blog or any left-wing blog, and I dare you to find hate-filled rants comparable to even the most mundane mutterings of the posters at Free Republic or Little Green Footballs or dozens of other wingnut sites of refuge. They just aren't there. But according to Lanz and his rightward-leaning pals, we're just as guilty of making unfounded accusations and hurling invective-filled bombs as they are. He even uses the "pot, meet kettle" analogy. I disagree. I find the abuse and the vitriol the right aims at the left to be far more prolific and far more extreme than that which we launch at them.
We on the left are called traitors
and unAmerican; we have been systematically marginalized and demonized in a concerted and coordinated effort ever since Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich -- with plenty of help from Rush Limbaugh and his colleagues -- conspired to make the very word "liberal" a pejorative to millions of Americans. That effort, which has been lovingly nurtured by Karl Rove and his minions, has now borne fruit beyond their wildest dreams. Where on the left-wing sites do we find calls for conservatives to be jailed en masse, to be exiled or beaten up or killed? It's commonplace to see such fantasies on the blogs and websites of the right.
The punditry is even worse. Ann Coulter smiles and says the only thing Tim McVeigh did wrong was in targeting the Federal Building in Oklahoma and not the New York Times building. Michael Savage tells a caller who happens to be gay that he "should only get AIDS and die." Limbaugh advises an African-American caller to "take the bone out of (his) nose." We are accused of "being on the side of the terrorists," of giving aid and comfort to "Islamofascists." Michell Malkin argues in favor of the WWII Japanese-American internment (and suggests that such a thing might be advisable again today), Coulter cheerfully defends McCarthyism. Even former President Jimmy Carter is blasted as being a "traitor"
! Where do you find the equal of vitriol like that on the left? Molly Ivins? Robert Scheer? Al Franken? Thom Hartmann? Hardly.
Perhaps the closest you can find would be the admittedly somewhat edgy Ted Rall, or the obscure (at least until he became a favorite target of the right) Ward Churchill, whose bemusing comments are generally disavowed or simply unknown among most of us on this side of the fence. The rantings of those two in a month wouldn't equal one one-hundredth of the hatred and anger spewed towards liberals and progressives in one day by Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity. Not only that, but the audience numbers for the blowhards at Fox News and EIB and Regnery Publishing and the rest generally dwarf the readers of Rall and company. The right has spent vast sums of money making sure that its message gets out to as many people as possible, with media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Richard Mellon Scaife spending literally billions of dollars to saturate the airwaves with their propaganda. The conservatives then have the nerve to complain about how the media is "controlled by liberals." If only!
And just what is it that these neocons and their supporters are so afraid of? They run virtually everything these days -- the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, the media -- yet all you hear from them is victimized whining. It's like Molly Ivins said about the current administration: they don't want to govern, they want to rule
. They can't seem to stand any thought that people might disagree with them or disagree with their president. They want to stifle dissent, to crush the opposition, to stop any discussion of policy before it even begins. There is no compromise, no bipartisanship, no give and take, there is only their way. They want one-party rule, now and forever. So they whine and piss and moan about every perceived slight; they obfuscate and twist the meanings of statements uttered by their opponents, loudly hectoring and berating anyone who dares to disagree with them; they accuse of treason every person who finds fault with wrong-headed legislation
or points out that the administration blatantly lies
, as do their shills in the media and Congress
and in the blogosphere.
For this, I'm told that I am a traitor, that I should leave the country, "become extinct," "burn." But according to Lanz, I'm just as guilty of spreading this same kind of crude animosity. Personally, I don't see it. I think there's a huge difference in what I do and say and what I read and hear from the NewsMax and Freeper crowd. I'll admit that, yes, I enjoy satirizing people of low intelligence who find the arguments of Limbaugh and his ilk compelling, or think that Creationism is a viable scientific theory. I freely admit to wanting to point out when people in my government obfuscate and lie and dissemble, as they seem to do on a daily basis, because I believe people should know the truth. There is no question that I have accused the current administration
of flirting with fascism
more than once, because it demonstrably has
. And I truly believe that most objective observers and future historians will agree with me. Just to bolster my case, here's how Mussolini himself defined it:"Fascism is an extreme right-wing ideology which embraces nationalism as the transcendent value of society. The rise of Fascism relies upon the manipulation of populist sentiment in times of national crisis. Based on fundamentalist revolutionary ideas, Fascism defines itself through intense xenophobia, militarism, and supremacist ideals. Although secular in nature, Fascism’s emphasis on mythic beliefs such as divine mandates, racial imperatives, and violent struggle places highly concentrated power in the hands of a self-selected elite from whom all authority flows to lesser elites, such as law enforcement, intellectuals, and the media."
Sound familar? It sounds to me very much like the place the United States is today. Is saying that hate speech? Is my saying that the equivalent of a conservative saying that all liberals are traitors who are aligned with Islamic terrorists and should be rounded up and shot? I hardly think so.
The comparison, I'm afraid, just doesn't wash. In this case, pot does not equal kettle.