I 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.
I’ve been enjoying audio books lately because I have to drive to distant parts of my county for work. One thing that fascinates me about the audiobook experience is the ways in which the readers pronounce some words. Now, I have degrees in English, and have always had a pretty good vocabulary, primarily as the result of reading. So consequently, there are many words that I’ve only ever read and not heard anyone use, so I’ve deduced my own pronunciations. Some of these have seemed clear, and there are others about which I’ve been unsure.
Let’s review some facts before getting to the point of this post:
Despite the fact that the US and its military is not a Theocratic regime:
1. The U.S. Military is saturated with and actively promotes Evangelical Christian sermons, events, and strongly worded proselytizing.
2. Military academy chaplains continue to vigorously promote evangelical Christianity to all troops. At services attended by some 600 cadets undergoing basic training, one of the chaplains told the cadets that those not “born again will burn in the fires of hell.” He and other chaplains urged the cadets to “witness” to their fellow Basic Cadets and led them in prayers for the salvation of those who had chosen not to attend the services.
3. The Pentagon reports: Suicide rates for Military personnel during 2011, 2012 occur once per day.
4. PTSD: Nearly 30% of vets treated by the VA in 11-12 have PTSD (and many more don’t seek treatment)
5. The Sept. 2012 study by the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, says about 20 percent of active duty service members reported they drank heavily in 2008, the last year for which data is available. And, binge-drinking rose to 47 percent in 2008 from 35 percent in 1998
6. Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Report in Sept 2012 concludes: We’ve had people beaten, denigrated, families and careers ruined. Our clients are being told they are not Christian enough. […] When you’re told you have the wrong religious faith—the military is very tribal and ritualistic.
7. SO THEN, we recently hear from the ‘eminent’ spokesperson of the Family Resource Center, Tony PerkinsT Perkins military’s institution of yoga and meditation as methods for decreasing stress, drug and alcohol use, and depression in soldiers. His ridiculous response is this:
“If yoga and medication is meant to create a sense of calmness, reduce drug and alcohol use, increase productivity, and improve working relationships.Tony asserts: “What a coincidence–so does faith! Unfortunately, the military seems intent on driving religion out and replacing it with wacky substitutes,” he continued. “They’ve added atheist chaplains, Wiccan worship centers, and now, meditation classes. But none of them are as effective or as constructive as a personal relationship with God. Unfortunately, though, it’s mind over what matters–and that’s faith.”
8. Now, with all the pervasive God pushing in the armed forces, and all the rampant problems plaguing our troops, it appears that this faith thing isn’t work very well! Perhaps Tony P. would say the troops aren’t practicing it properly…
Let’s review some more facts on the matter (knowing full well that facts mean nothing to Tony and his ilk):
9. Drug abuse is also a growing problem, reports find. Just 2 percent of personnel on active duty reported misusing prescription drugs in 2002, while the latest report found 11 percent of personnel engaged in such abuse.
10. Since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, alcohol abuse among returning military personnel has spiked. In 2008, nearly half of active duty service members reported binge drinking. Among the environmental changes endorsed by the committee are curbing easy access to relatively inexpensive alcohol on military bases through consistent enforcement of regulations on underage drinking.
One soldier’s experience is detailed here: An atheist soldier suing over prayers at military formations claims a larger pattern of religious discrimination exists in the military, citing attempts to convert Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan and an evangelical bias in a suicide prevention manual. The Defense Department has identified fewer than 50 complaints about alleged violations of religious freedoms during the past three years, with 1.4 million personnel in uniform lodging complaints(fishy numbers here), according the Military Spokesmen. The revised lawsuit criticizes the Army’s 2008 manual on suicide prevention, quoting it as promoting “religiosity” as a necessary part of prevention and describing “connectivity to the divine” as “fundamental.” The lawsuit also notes that in 2007, the Air Force sponsored “Team Faith,” which performs motocross stunt shows to “lead extreme sports athletes to Christ.”
Many more accounts are available from Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Atheist/Agnostic member of the military who feel pressured to attend such Christian events and who are ostracized when they do choose not to do so.
Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Report in Sept 2012 concludes:
We’ve had people beaten, denigrated, families and careers ruined. Our clients are being told they are not Christian enough. […] When you’re told you have the wrong religious faith—the military is very tribal and ritualistic
Now, with all the pervasive God talk in the armed forces, and all the rampant problems plaguing our troops, it appears that this faith thing isn’t work very well?
Let’s review some fact on the matter (knowing full well that facts mean nothing to Tony and his ilk):
Drug abuse is also a growing problem, the report finds. Just 2 percent of personnel on active duty reported misusing prescription drugs in 2002, while the new report found 11 percent of personnel engaged in such abuse.
Plenty of research can be found online that supports the benefits of meditation and yoga–and it’s not in conflict with Christianity either. Shut up Tony.
It seems that media coverage of conflicts over christmas displays in public places is usually framed as Atheists against Christians (the only true Americans). Of course conservative media loves to pound on this one, and it is a brilliant way of bonding your audience to you and your corporate sponsors by uniting all against the common enemy of change, diversity, multiculturalism, globalism, satan. It’s a WAR on Christmas, and we all need to join ranks against the mongrel hordes who clearly want to…be more included in things? I dunno.
All that aside, it’s fascinating to me that atheists are featured in the forefront of those who object to the tacit public endorsement of christianity inherent in nativity or other religiously inspired displays on government property. Atheists are easier to target explicitly than other actual religions (although apparently a number of the christies think atheism itself is a religion!) so the implicit denunciation of atheist’s declaring war on their sacred day is a good cover for what they’re really afraid of, i.e., change and difference, of any kind.
I suspect that those Americans like me who are not atheists, but don’t believe that any religion’s beliefs and symbols belong in the public square–because we don’t have a state sponsored religion, and because we have a plurality of religious faiths whose adherents shouldn’t have to be bombarded with symbols and ideas of one religion. Even though we already ARE. Conservatives rail about the fact that christianity used to be everywhere in public life as if that’s EVER been a viable reason to do anything—well we used to put children to work in factories at age 5, we used to think slavery was a-okay, that leeches cured all disease, holy shit—the number of horrible things we USED to do is endless. Some of us non-christians are just trying to keep working toward putting some more things onto the list of horrible things we USED to do.