Monday, September 13, 2010
We're Going Down
Selective? Probably. But it seems every tea party rally, every group assembled to laud their lions, Glenn and Sarah most particularly, is rife with such people. Convinced that we're going to hell in a hand basket, swallowing whole the delusional claims of their leaders, but entirely unable to articulate anything specific other than aggrievement. Surely they can come up with something specific. I know I can.
That such a big chunk of citizens can have been riled up by people with big egos and bigger wallets, without so much as a thought that they've been played, manipulated, is beyond understanding. They're so sure they're right, but they can't point to a single thing. What explains it?
I just watched a remarkable show on HBO, "My Trip To al-Queda." I highly recommend it for everyone, no matter your political leanings. It's mostly the one man show of Lawrence Wright, who wrote "The Looming Tower: Al-Queda and the Road To 9/11." It's both a personal reflection on his reporting, in which he got to know several pretty questionable guys, and a very revealing history of the roots of al Queda and its main leaders. He's no sympathizer, as the end of the show makes clear. But he does show, convincingly, how our response to 9/11 fulfilled exactly the narrative bin Laden hoped for.
It was his focus on the idea of humiliation -- from the point of view of many Arab Muslims -- that is relevant to the above clip of folks at the Glenngasm. Humiliation, he said, is a great excuse for hate. He compared the showing of the same clip of a couple of GIs taking an Iraqi family out of its house, as seen on CNN and al Jazeera. You don't have to be a bleeding heart or Deanna Troi to see how it would be seen in the Muslim world.
How humiliating it must be to those teabaggers that people they despise, liberals, a black family in the White House, took the upper hand. They want their country back in the same way al Queda wants to reëstablish the caliphate. Read these signs, decide if the people carrying them could be described as thoughtful, or manipulated. The words of a couple of paranoid lunatics have convinced them.* Given the credulity and shallowness (to put the best face on it) we see in Sam's clip, it's clear nothing will convince them otherwise.
A lot of that is going around.
*Of the four leaders in question (Beck, Palin, OBL, and al-Zawahiri), I think only Beck is literally crazy (assuming he actually believes his white-board demonstrations), and only Palin is demonstrably stupid. OBL and a-Z seem neither of those (although that level of religious zealotry, like Beck's delusions, can certainly be associated with schizophrenia), but are clearly more overtly and inarguably evil and single-mindedly committed to literal destruction. But I'm not sure who actually has the ability to do more lasting harm to our country. 9/11 took many innocent lives and cost a lot of money, shook our sense of security, but of itself it had no ability to destroy us. The next attack, the same. The destruction of a society like ours has to come from within, from us. From Glenn, Sarah, and their ilkiness among the RWS™, the destruction is harder to see (to some), but is more fundamental and pervasive, and, ultimately, more deadly to us all.
Many, of course, see Obama as a destroyer. But he's doing only what he promised to do when elected (or, in some sad cases, less). Whatever you think of stimulus money, health care, money for vets and roads, Wall Street reform, it's all been done as a result of elections. What the Glennsarahscreamer crowd are about is nullifying elections and perverting the electoral system by replacing informed voters with propagandized ones, using lies, hate, and intolerance instead of planes. Much more powerful, I'd say. Find the HBO documentary and watch it. The parallels are remarkable, despite the fact that it was clearly not the point of the film.