Category Archives: Individualism

Right-wing Wrong Machine

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ImageI am fascinated—masochistically, no doubt—by the ways in which crazy lies about liberals are generated and repeated endlessly via emails, blogs, and “news” sources. And no, while liberals sometimes get things wrong too, the sheer scale and audacity of the lies told within the republican echo chamber, the conservative cone of crap, the bullshit bubble, far surpasses any committed by liberals. Are there liberals out there receiving constant emails asserting outlandish lies about conservatives, lies that one Google search or Snopes check would reveal as such? Yeah, me neither.

An article by Rick Perlstein in The Baffler, “The Long Con: Mail-order Conservatism,” provides an excellent take on right-wing truth deficiency and gullibility. And sociologists and psychologists are producing interesting research about the conservative personality.

One example I encountered recently involves a supposed plot by Chicago liberals to pave one of Reagan’s boyhood residences and put up a parking lot FOR OBAMA’S LIBRARY!! By now this lying sack of shit story has been deconstructed by Mother Jones and others, but when I initially saw the headline “Reagan’s Childhood Home to Become Parking Lot for Obama’s Library” next to the Newsmax logo posted on a right-wing relative’s Facebook page (accompanied by requisite credulous outrage), my Google search brought up only repetitious iterations of the same story on Fox, the Examiner, Drudge, etc. ad nauseum.

The source that inspired the Newsmax story—and thus, all the others—was written by a reader in the Washington Times’ “neighborhood” or “community voices” section (i.e., even more not-news than their regular not-news in that rag). The writer spins a series of paranoid speculations from the one fact in all of this: that the U of Chicago Medical Center, plans to build a parking lot on the site of one of Reagan’s boyhood homes, after the site was denied landmark status. This community voice then spools out a series of questions based on familiar right-wing phantasmagoria. Some tidbits:

“…some powerful Chicagoans are planning to demolish Reagan’s historic home. Is it politically motivated? Is Mayor Rahm Emanuel behind the move?”

“While the university is planning to kill Reagan’s home, University of Chicago is also aggressively lobbying to be the site of President Barack Obama’s presidential library. Could the Reagan site become a parking lot for Obama’s library? Opponents of the demolition say yes.”

If opponents of the demolition say yes, it must be true.

Titled “Reagan’s Home Could Become a Parking Lot for Obama’s Library,” this one little piece of the typical liberal-hating conspiracism spawned a string of stories that reinforce the overarching narrative that the godless, liberal, brown, i.e., “un-American” hordes are taking over and desecrating the righteous past—when (white) men were men, and women and non-whites were in their place, when christianity was sovereign, when government existed only to foster and protect business, when business was free to exploit people and land, and when men like the  (idealized version of the) Gipper ruled the world. One little word change in the headlines of these articles serves to further inflame the righteous anger/fear of the right-wing (de)base: from Reagan’s home COULD become an Obama lot to Reagan’s home TO become such a lot. A fact is born.

This fake fact was/is now passed around among the right-wing oppressed, a lie both created by their delusions of persecution and then added to the shit-pile mountain of “evidence” of their persecution, of liberal evil machinations to crush, dominate and obliterate all that is intrinsic to the “real” America and its values. So with truth and reality akimbo, Newsmax reports that “The University of Chicago Medical Center has announced plans to turn Ronald Reagan’s childhood home in Chicago into a parking lot for President Barack Obama’s library.” Anyone see that press conference?

It’s comical now to watch conservatives scramble to “re-brand” their message (not their failed policies). They’ve already mastered the art of manipulative lies, doing a marvelous job of galvanizing the old, white, sexist, bigoted, christian, dumb (or gullible, whatever), fearful bloc of Americans. Thus righties like my relative will keep posting those lies on their FB pages, building a lasting legacy of vast mountains of sacks of shit.

Lone Wolf at the Door

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Although Michael Moore doesn’t always get things right, I like the points he makes in HuffPo today, about how the tremendous violence we Americans visit upon ourselves and others comes from much deeper causes than easy availability of guns. While of course gun restictions will help, more mental health services will help, beneath it all he believes three big issues underlie our excessive crime and violence: POVERTY, FEAR/RACISM, and THE ME SOCIETY.

Of course all three of these phenomena are intertwined, each causing, reinforcing, and resulting from the other. The selfish me society is so intrinsic to our history and mythology. On the one hand, we see ourselves as parts of a whole, citizens of. this great country, but we really don’t evidence a strong belief in taking care of one another. And all evidence to the contrary, the person who falls is viewed as entirely responsible for his/her fate, and the person who succeeds did it all on his/her own. We lack community and connection that might ordinarily work to prevent most people from killing a bunch of other people. In America the lone wolf is viewed as a hero, a god. The lone guy who kills the enemy and the one who kills innocents are the same–disconnected, misanthropic–they just happen to point their guns at different targets. Every day we churn out these isolated individuals, all focused only on their own needs and wants in different ways, and some directing their lonely dislocation at the others outside themselves. You didn’t build that, we built that.

Now how do we dismantle it?

Fear and Loathing Deluxe, or, Nuts over Guns

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The horrifying school shooting yesterday fills me with sadness and anger, as it clearly does most of us. The tragedy is exacerbated by reading the usual knee-jerk responses that come from the right.

Gun Nuts

In an unfunny irony, earlier this week one of my conservative christian relatives inexplicably forwarded me a circulating email with the subject “A Profound and Articulate Argument,” by some military guy who writes that the weak/good people need guns to protect them from mugging and attacks by strong/bad people. (BTW, how can more guns be a christly position?) Of course attacks happen more than they should, but never as often as fear-mongering gun nuts claim. Over in places like Foxnewsville, they missed the memo that violent crime has been decreasing, down 15% since 2007, per FBI stats.

To that email forward, to violent, gun-loving American culture, I borrow from Katie J.M. Baker on Jezebel and say FUCK YOU GUNS.

Power Balls

Then there’s talk about mental illness, and the need for more treatment. I agree we desperately need that. And while we don’t know if this particular mass murderer was mentally ill, that malady is clearly a factor for MOST of the mass killers in recent memory.

The characteristics that ALL these murderers share are whiteness and masculinity. Women and people of color in this country suffer from mental illnesses too, but there’s only one group of Americans for which it too often manifests in murders of families and/or innocent strangers.

America has a gender role and white privilege crisis. Traditional definitions of masculinity have been ratcheted up: get angry not sad, direct it out not in, go out in a blaze of glory, take no prisoners, die motherfucker! Be a man and don’t act like a weak faggot or girl. Dominate.

Add to that the bloody history of white privilege in the US—a powerful racial privilege that is denied if ever acknowledged, a privilege that is expected, and which every institution in America has functioned to perpetuate. What we get then is a category of people (OF COURSE not all whites, not all men), for whom disappointment, pain, neurosis or psychosis is bound to come out in violent actions towards OTHERS.

A whole segment of media and institutions is devoted to glorifying violent white manliness as well as inciting resentment (fear) of those uppity women and “minorities” who are (supposedly) displacing the poor white guys from their rightful perches of power.

Shame

Shame on all the people promoting these ideologies of hate and violence—unacknowledged fear. Shame on the makers of ubiquitous products, media, games, wars that promote this shit. Shame on an economic system built around conquest, exploitation of people and nature, division, wealth accumulation, competition, selfishness, and a mythic individualism.

Shame on us for (literally) buying into any part of this culture of evil. Ironically for Mr. Military Man of the forwarded email, the very gender/racial privilege that he no doubt helps promote is what creates his whole weak/strong dichotomy that requires more guns.

Love

Once again, most of us are grieving for the children and families mowed down by killing machines, metal and human. I’m sending love and empathy to everyone in Newtown, and everyone in any kind of pain in the world, wishing it would manifest in healing and not more pain.