Let the “Patriots” Rave

bill o'reillyOne of my fellow lefties just forwarded me another of those spammed emails she regularly gets from “patriots” of the Tea Party persuasion.

I get the same sort of screeds via cyberspace and snail mail. Most of them are unsigned or come with pseudonyms. (Otherwise, one of President Obama’s black helicopters, flown by socialist UN pilots, might swoop down and haul them off to one of his secret FEMA concentration camps.)

Against my counsel, my friend feels compelled to answer her detractors. I never do.

Paranoia and a persecution complex, not reason and logic, fire these uber-conservatives, even those who sign what they write.

Hence, responding to these don’t-confuse-me-with-the-facts-my-mind’s-made-up “patriots” is a waste of time, and it provides them the validation they crave. Ignoring them drives them even battier.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading How Bill O’Reilly Saved Christmas: A Fair and Balanced Account of Right-Wing Persecution by Michael Wolraich. The book is supposed to be out in November, so I’ve added it to my Christmas wish list.

The Washington Post’s Steven E. Levingston featured the book in one of his online “Political Bookworm” columns in March. The topic is even timelier as election day draws nigh.

“The far right has been spinning paranoid fantasies about the persecution of white Christian conservatives since the 1970s, but Fox News and Republican leaders began pushing these fringe views into the mainstream a few years ago,” Levingston quoted Wolraich. “After Obama’s election, they whipped the trend into an epidemic of paranoia that we haven’t seen since the Red Scare. The result is a destruction of mutual trust that has paralyzed the government.”

The author added: “I started the book after watching Pat Buchanan shout at Rachel Maddow about the ‘affirmative action appointment’ of Judge Sotomayor and the terrible discrimination suffered by white males. I began to see how integral the myth of persecution has been to the growing power of the right wing. Seemingly innocuous stories, like Bill O’Reilly’s alleged ‘war on Christmas,’ are much darker than they appear at a glance. O’Reilly warned his viewers of a secret conspiracy between billionaire George Soros, liberal newspapers, and the ACLU to ban Christmas in order to pave the way for gay marriage, euthanasia, legalized drugs, and socialism. (He accused the New York Times and the L.A. Times but not the Washington Post, so I guess that you guys weren’t in on the plot.)

“After I started writing, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh went nuts and began trumpeting wacky conspiracy theories about villainous ‘czars’ in the White House who were deliberately wrecking the economy in order to justify a military crackdown on conservatives and some kind of fascist-communist revolution with eugenics and bestiality sprinkled on top. But O’Reilly’s war on Christmas was the launching pad that took persecution politics from fringe to mainstream, so I named the book in his honor.”

For the record, paranoia and a persecution complex also infect some people on the loopy left. Occasionally, I get emails and letters from these folks claiming I’m not sufficiently leftist. I don’t acknowledge them either.

“The left wing buzzed with conspiracy theories related to the Iraq War and 9/11, and the JFK assassination is a perennial favorite on the left,” Wolraich told Levingston. “Author Thomas Frank, in his book, ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas ,’ observed that right-wing demagogues lifted their anti-elitist vocabulary almost verbatim from left-wing populists who raged at the end of the 19th century.

Wolraich explained, “The difference today between left and right is that Democratic leaders and popular liberal journalists reject left-wing paranoia, whereas many prominent Republicans and conservative media stars actively promote right-wing paranoia.”

Levingston asked Wolraich what’s “the single most resilient myth” the book crushes. “Legalizing gay marriage would not mean that people could also marry ducks, goats, and dolphins,” he replied.

But here’s my favorite part of what Wolraich said: “Seriously, I don’t see my book as a myth-crusher. The right-wing persecution mythology is so obviously absurd that it’s self-crushing — except to those who are under its spell, but they won’t be convinced by logical remonstrations from a professed liberal [Italics mine].”

So, my leftist fellow traveler, the next time you get one of those Obama-is-a-Kenyan-born-Islamo-Socialist emails, hit the delete button on your computer. Go outside and enjoy these lazy, late summer days that are fast waning. Let the “patriots” rave.

Berry Craig

Published by the LA Progressive on September 6, 2010
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
About Berry Craig

Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, the recording secretary for the Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, and the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War, Hidden History of Kentucky Soldiers and Hidden History of Western Kentucky. He is a native of Mayfield, Ky., where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their 20-year-old son.