Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Saturday, November 23rd, 2013.

Why They Exaggerate

Obama Administration

From all the screaming on the Right, you’d think Senate Dems were a tribe of ax-wielding Visigoths. Rush made a really creepy rape analogy. The usual stuff.

Steve M. reminds us that righties always see themselves as picked-upon (but noble) victims. Whatever happens is never their fault.

Bullies claiming to be bullied — does that remind you of anything? It reminds me of a wife beater who gets a restraining order against the wife he beats, and who otherwise claims that he’s the real victim. Fight back against a guy like that, even strictly in self defense, and he’ll show off every tiny bruise as proof that you’re the monster, not him.

Explains why they so fervently embrace George Zimmerman as one of their own.

Paul Rosenberg writes about the rightie proclivity to exaggerate. Any misstep on the part of the Democrats is “worse than Watergate” or “Obama’s Katrina.”

Case in point: As early as April 2010, Media Matters had counted eight different things that had been touted as “Obama’s Katrina,” including the BP oil spill (Limbaugh, Drudge, Fox.etc. vs. facts here); the GM bankruptcy (Politico, June 8, 2009); the H1N1 flu (Rush Limbaugh, Nov. 3, 2009); the Fort Hood shootings (Human Events, Nov. 11, 2009); the Christmas underwear bomber (Pajamas Media, Dec. 29, 2009); the Haiti earthquake (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 25, 2010); the Kentucky ice storms (Confederate Yankee, Feb. 1, 2010); and even housing policies in Chicago back when Obama was a state senator (Mickey Kaus, Slate, June 30, 2008).

They’re also prone to comparing anything they don’t like to slavery. While I don’t entirely agree with part of his premise, Rosenberg makes one interesting point. The Fundamentalist right, Jerry Falwell et al., did not immediately jump on abortion as their signature issue right after Roe v. Wade. At the time, they were still locked in the final battles of their war on racial desegregation. Many seem to have embraced pregnancy enforcement only when they realized segregation was lost.

For several decades now, conservatives have clung to abortion as their great moral equalizer, which they consequently just love to equate with slavery. Ever since its meteoric rise in the late 1970s, the religious right has clung to the abortion issue as the foundation of its claims to moral superiority — and for good reason, since their true, sordid origin story lies in fighting to preserve segregation, as Max Blumenthal explained in the Nation magazine at the time of Jerry Falwell’s death (“Agent of Intolerance“). …

…Remarkably, Falwell and his ilk were so focused on defending segregation, that they rebuffed early Catholic attempts, spearheaded by Paul Weyrich, to turn their attention to abortion. They only broadened their issue agenda to include abortion some years later, as they came to realize they needed allies who had little motivation in helping them preserve the separation of the races.

I well remember there was plenty of antipathy to abortion among religious and political conservatives even before Roe v. Wade (1973). But the degree to which the Right has made abortion the ground of Armageddon itself might be partly explained by their position on what they think is moral high ground. They’ve lost or are losing every other moral/social issues fight of the 20th century, but they’ve still got abortion. Plus, it gives them an excuse to slut-shame sexually active women. So they aren’t likely to let go of abortion anytime soon, even if it’s beginning to cost them elections.

My quibble with Rosenberg comes up in this paragraph:

What connects all these patterns is that they involve bad things that conservatives were responsible for in the past, things they still, apparently, feel appropriately guilty about. but cannot consciously admit to, and hence, keep on trying to find liberal versions of, in order to unburden themselves by pushing their guilt onto others. It’s an example of what psychologists and psychiatrists know as “projection,” and the rest of us know as “the pot calling the kettle black.” But often it’s actually even worse than that — it’s not just the past bad behavior that’s being projected, but ongoing bad behavior as well, in part because of this same refusal to come to terms with past mistakes.

Yeah, sorta, but I don’t think it’s guilt they feel. Maybe, but I doubt it. It’s more like existential fear. They are so utterly invested in their own moral certitude that it has become who they are. Any challenge to their inner core of white-hot righteousness about whatever is a mortal threat.

This accounts for another tendency, the way in which admired historical figures must be assimilated by the Right. Thus the absurd argument that Martin Luther King was a rightie — they sure didn’t think that when he was alive — or the belief that John Kennedy was a conservative, even though he called himself a liberal. It must not be that anyone who was “good” could not have been one of theirs, and not one of the hated liberals.

Share Button