Where to begin. Perhaps with Paul Krugman, who says right wingers have some sense of humor.
What’s happening, presumably, is that modern movement conservatism attracts a certain personality type. If you identify with the downtrodden, even a little, you don’t belong. If you think ridicule is an appropriate response to other peoples’ woes, you fit right in.
And Republican disillusionment with Mr. Bush does not appear to signal any change in that regard. On the contrary, the leading candidates for the Republican nomination have gone out of their way to condemn “socialism,” which is G.O.P.-speak for any attempt to help the less fortunate.
So once again, if you’re poor or you’re sick or you don’t have health insurance, remember this: these people think your problems are funny.
Over the long years I’ve observed some consistent traits among righties. One is that they sincerely believe most people think the way they do, even when polls say otherwise. In fact, “most people agree with me” is a common fallback debate tactic. Some have an almost frantic need to believe they belong to a majority, possibly because it makes them feel powerful. Erich Fromm wrote that people who find autonomy isolating and bewildering often will submerge themselves in an authoritarian group. Such people often have a strong sado-masochistic streak, Fromm said. They derive pleasure both from submission to a higher authority and from aggressively dominating people who fall below them in the social/power strata. “Humor” is often a socially acceptable form of hate speech used to keep less desirable people in their place.
Naturally, people who submerge their individuality into an authoritarian group place much importance on the trappings of conformity. Today much of the Right Blogosphere is in a tizzy because Barack Obama has stopped wearing a flag pin in his lapel. From right-wing reaction you’d think Obama had announced his engagement to Osama bin Laden.
Beyond parody, isn’t it? The wingers won’t volunteer for the war, their kids don’t serve in the war, they won’t pay taxes for the war, but by God they’ll wear their lapel pins!
No wonder this country is dysfunctional. We’re one big dysfunctional family now. We don’t have political factions; we have political pathologies.
Of course, they think we’re crazy. John Hawkins, a “mainstream” blogger of the Right, today explains what would happen if liberals ran America:
If the left were able to totally dominate American politics starting tomorrow, all 50 governors, every seat in Congress, the presidency, and all 9 Supreme Court Justices, my guess is that they’d immediately start implementing the worst aspects of European socialism wholesale.
In other words, you’d see socialized medicine, government takeovers of industry, reams of new regulations on businesses, sky high tax rates, the military would be gutted, the national debt would grow to unimaginable levels, drugs, prostitution, gay marriage, and polygamy would be legalized, penalties for committing crimes would be greatly reduced, and draconian speech codes would be put into place.
This would of course have disastrous consequences for the country and the world. The US economy would start to fall apart, crime would explode, and conflicts would break out all over the globe as terrorists were given free reign, other nations rapidly escalated their conventional military spending, and dozens of nations built nuclear weapons. Within a couple of decades, multiple “small” nuclear wars would probably break out in Asia, South America, and the Middle-East even as the global economy started to tank.
Now, you might think that if this were to happen, the libs would see the error of their ways and move back to the right — but, that doesn’t take into account the nature of the left.
When liberal idea fail miserably in practice, which is most of the time, their response isn’t to go in the other direction, it’s to go FURTHER in the direction that they were already moving. This is exactly what the left did in countries like China and the Soviet Union and it’s what it seems likely that they would do in the US as well when it became clear that turning the United States into a giant version of Belgium/Amsterdam wasn’t working out so well.
What you’d probably get then would be madcap combination of the world in George Orwell’s 1984 mixed with the dictates of Stalin. Religion would be banned, conservatism would be illegal, the state would take over ever larger portions of industry, and the Constitution would be scrapped and replaced with a 500 page tangle of bureaucrat speak that spelled out everything from what political ideas were to be made “thought crimes” to what sort of lightbulbs people were allowed to use.
Does that sound too fantastic to be true? Maybe it is. But, if people like Ted Kennedy, Rosie O’Donnell, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, and Michael Moore were allowed to actually implement their ideas without having to worry about the voters, the wildest excesses of liberalism that you could imagine would probably pale in comparison to what they’d actually end up implementing.
Jaw-dropping, isn’t it? Never mind that little of this nightmare scenario has anything whatsoever to do with liberalism. Never mind that much of it — the gutting of the military, runaway national debt, free speech restrictions, rising crime rates, escalating global conflict, a deteriorating economy — is happening now. I want to know what’s up with their obsession with Rosie O’Donnell.
It’s a pathology, I tell you. They refuse to believe there’s a problem with climate change, health care, or habeas corpus. But Rosie O’Donnell gives them hives.
We’re all cartoons now. I swear, America is Loony Tune Nation.
See also: Right-Wing Cartoon Watch.
And is Ann Coulter a walking freak show, or what?
Almost all conservative males I’ve ever known endured a poor, unaffectionate relation with their fathers, or had older fathers who died when they were very young. Conservative males all bellow about “the family” when in fact their family relations were not emotionally warm or close at all. When liberals speak of the family, emotional closeness is the paramount value; for conservatives, rules, obedience, and power are most important.
They are obsessed with Rosie like Elmer was on that “Wasskawy Wabbit.” She is their “Wasskasy Wesbian!”
All they care about is, once more, to quote the great Elmer, “My name is Elmer J. Fudd, miwwionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht…” And you don’t!
Maybe in his next huntin’ hijinx Dick can shoot himself in the face, ala Elmer. I bet he calls someone real fast after that one.
These are scary, frightened people.
To them, the wolf is the hero. After all, that little Socialist bitch, Little Red Riding Hood, was trying to help her poor, sick, invalid Grandmother. And we can’t have that now, can we?
“And look – she’s got the word “Red” right in her name!!! And she’s a “hood!” Look! “Red…, Hood!” JUST LOOK, it’s right there I’m telling you… The wolf was right to eat her and her despicable Grandma!!!”
Maha, you are right. It is a pathology.
Maybe they were right about the flouridation of the water after all…
Ooops, should read, “Wasskawy Wesbian.” Sorry…
The John Hawkins quote is absolutely spot on. He eloquently expresses all the screeds so beloved of the right.
Call me a masochist, but I’ve been reading the responses on Oprah.com to the debate between Michael Moore and a representative of the insurance industry on health care. The show aired about a week ago. I don’t need to tell you what kind of responses were posted on her site. John Hawkins says it all.
Oh, just one real howler: Apparently, here in Canada we have to participate in a lottery to go to the doctor because there’s such a shortage of doctors here. Ouch! My head is hurting from banging it against the wall (of ignorance and stupidity).
Keep up the good work, Maha.
Not to mention that these are just glaring generalities with little basis in fact. Which is what I have the most trouble with on the right, absolutely no one seems to want to back up their statements with, say quotes from candidates, statistics and the like. To put Hillary in with Michael Moore at this point is preposterous. She sounds a lot more like George W than some commie lib. Scare tactics is all they have and their attempt at reverting any social gains that have been made, much less to address new social problems that demand government involvement (health care) is just simply astounding. I actually believe it will result in the final downfall of the party. Gone the way of the Whigs.
Projection, on a massive scale. Standard right pathology.
The belief that moderate Dems are really rabid stalinists in disguise is a bedrock assumption underlying the modern “conservative” movement.
John Hawkins failed to mention that all our women would be wearing burkas if those damned librals had their way.
Now I understand why I had to pass through a metal detector on my way to Jury duty this week. The paranoia is unstinkin’ believeable.
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“We don’t have political factions; we have political pathologies.”
There’s your money quote!
Maha, excellent post… excellent blog! My first time here. You are bookmarked!
I think Coulter’s pipe dream is more like a CRACK pipe dream.
I wonder if she’s really that sick or if she has just found a perverted way to make big money that works…..
To paraphrase Robin Willliams in “Man of the Year”, this country puts the “funk” in dysfunctional.
Also, has any one pointed out to Coulter that supposedly she is a single woman. Is she advocating that she shouldn’t vote because she votes stupidly??????
I went over to Hawkins’ site, thinking that I might leave a rebuttal, but just got overwhelmed by the huge number of comments, many of them splitting hairs but not really contradicting his ideas.
It’s tragic that we can’t even talk with these people, and so these rabid misconceptions and projections fester and multiply. Half of what he fears has already come to pass under right wing rule. All of it is hopelessly small minded and born of survival fear.
I don’t know how you reach these people. They may not buy my arguments – and that’s their right – but it’s really hard to even get them to hear them in the first place.
The wingers won’t volunteer for the war, their kids don’t serve in the war, they won’t pay taxes for the war, but by God they’ll wear their lapel pins!
Not Sean Hannity.
Whoa, that link to Coulter’s latest dementia almost convinces me of reincarnation. She could only have been Heinrich Himmler in a previous life. It would also explain the rumored Adam’s apple.
Heavens!!! I’ve managed to avoid right-wing spiels up until now. How could Hawkins get all that from what liberals believe in – democracy and the rights of the individual.
I wonder if he knows what a ‘real’ conservative believes – there are those who must rule and there are those who must be ruled. He might subscribe to same little realizing that the odds are overwhelming that he, John Hawkins, has been, is and will always be one of the ruled.
Hawkins writes from pure ignorance and fairy tale assumptions. Ideology always trumps evidence (and reason) with these people, no matter how high a mountain that evidence is piled.
man, wouldn’t it be great if “conservatives” really were?
webster’s defines conservativism as:
nope…..batting zero so far.
Maybe what Hawkins and Coulter are doing is premeditated and designed to respond to the eroding influence that the Neocons have with the American street, which seems likely to only increase over the next little bit. Maybe they figure that the only way to stop the possibility of a massive landslide in November 2008 is to whip the kool-aide drinking monkeys into hysteria which makes them all the more malleable.
Bill Sammon was on Washington Journal this morning with his book, The Evangelical President. Bill is one poised calm dude when he defends Bush, et al. We could all take a lesson from his presentation when confronting and being confronted by those with whom we have fervent disagreement.
Anyway, he was really putting the steady sell and Simoniz car wax treatment on Bush. He corrected a caller that, in fact, Bush had not failed in his presidency, but was simply unpopular. After all, the Supreme Court has a conservative bent if not majority, Bush has put troops in Iraq as he saw fit and as he pleased, and the tax cuts have helped the (‘er-um) economy.
I listened closely and after the segment decided that the Neocons may have started damage control. They may have figured that if the wind has naught but to blow ill over the next year secondary to Iraq, then they might as well console and consolidate the base, drawing nigh the brethren, and begin the counter-spin and buffing and polishing efforts to exploit whatever they can–all the while waiting for an al-Qaida success, or some other boogey-man to scare the street back towards the Nationalists.
So Coulter and Hawkins appeal to the anxious paranoids. Sammons appeals to the Neocon Christianist intellectuals and they don’t waste a lot of time crying over milk spilled or to be spilled.
We get too lost in our outrage and righteous indignation. Their leadership does not appear to do it the same way, or at least they have a leadership subgroup who is steady at the tiller, stiff upper lip and all that for the public. I wonder if we tend too much to the micro and far too little to the macro?
This aspect of humor mentioned by Krugman and referenced here has been a topic of discussion on several boards with plenty of references and links. Conservative humor, including a recent failed attempt at political humor in the form of a show at Faux News, always falls short but it doesn’t stop them from trying.
Just why is it that there is no Jon Stewart of the right, or even a Bill Maher? Go figure.
The biggest thing the right does not get with these failed attempts at humor is that when the weak and powerless are the brunt of the humor it just doesn’t go over well. The best that sort of attempt gets is a few crude snickers, silence, and a pervasively palpable sense of unease.
These kinds of faux pas on the right are revealing. All humor has some truth at its core and using the weak and powerless as the brunt of the joke just comes off as being mean, a fair characterization of the sentiments behind the failed attempt at humor.
With the juxtaposition of left and right humor it is easy to discern basic value differences. There is a heaping helping of circular reasoning in justifying the plghts of the weak that are often the basis of conservative humor — those at the bottom have so little because they are not worthy, they are not worthy because they have so little…hahaha.
Conservatives cannot be relied on to see past the intrasigencies that prevent equality of opportunity for those who are willing to work hard. They like things the way they are because of the basest perceptions of their own well-being that can only be measured in comparison to the misery index of others. Perhaps it is just hardwired into their primal simian limbic systems to perceive the benefit to others as a threat.
Isn’t this what we see from them constantly? …benefit to those they deem deserving and zilch for those deemed unworthy? There definitions are suprisingly convenient, aren’t they? Convenient for them and not so convenient for others.
When the monkees become frightened rational thought goes out the window. Unfortunately it’s not hard to frighten the monkees. Also unfortunately, when the monkees become frightened they can easily become violent.
Liberal or conservative, a monkee is a monkee.
Some have an almost frantic need to believe they belong to a majority,
And at the same time they have an even more frantic need to believe they are a persecuted minority, downtrodden and presecuted by activist judges and the faceless liberal horde who won’t let them impose their rigid mindless theocracy. If rightards were forced to actually think about their beliefs, and reconcile the myriad contradictions and absurdities, their heads would explode.
So Kevin, was Peter Tork a liberal and Michael Nesmith a conservative, or how exactly did that fall out?
Yeah, if liberals ruled America, guys like Sen. Larry Craig wouldn’t have to be skulking around public restrooms trying to get his tonsils coated with love goo.
And guys like Clarence Thomas wouldn’t have to perjure themselves in the need to deny that they do enjoy the pleasures of the flesh expressed through the voyeuristic medium of porn flicks. Naugthy, naughty, Clarence !
I have been in a running online gunbattle with a few neo-cons at a union mail list. One rude arch-conservative got kicked off (I am trying to get him reinstated) a second argued today that we must be the world’s biggest bully because 1) no one ever really liked us 2) it’s best if the world fears us.
On a mixed and open forum these people are the best argument for a liberal (or moderate) point of view. They are rude, abusive, irrational and paranoid. Most people are so repelled that any reasoned argument looks pretty strong.
Kudos to Obama for breaking away from the American android syndrome of wearing a flag lapel pin. Bush has intimidated the whole bunch politicos into being Steppford wives. Wearing their little American flags pins like Nazi regalia in an effort to show obeisance to Bush’s deceptions…How many of those pigs were wearing their little lapel trinkets when they voted to codify torture into the American character, or when they trashed our bill of rights for their own political purposes? I have more respect for the hat brass of an SS officer than I do for shallow token of patriotism displayed on some political clown’s lapel. Actions speak louder than pot metal lapel pins made in China.
Didn’t Tom DeLay wear his patriotic lapel pin in his offical police mug shot?
Great post, and thanks for the link!
Lambert’s comment is priceless, and the Hawkins worldview is just astounding.
As to conservative humor â€” I always think of Bush mocking Tucker pleading for her life. Most conservative humor is a bullying, degrading, frat-boy style. I think it was Paul O’Neill who felt (correctly) that Bush used nicknames to bully people, and most conservative humor isn’t based on wit, or reflection. It’s all about putting people in their place.
I left the following comment at Hawkins’ site. Uunfortunately there is no way I can see to directly link to it r/t reproducing it here:
What’s tragic is that you wingers cannot see that a right wing takeover of the US has already spawned many of the exact things you fear a liberal takeover would bring.
Our country’s spending and debt are out of control, due to 1) stupid and costly wars of conquest, fought for the benefit of Bush’s pals in the oil and arms industries (among other reasons), and 2) tax cuts mostly benefiting those who don’t need them, while letting spending run amuck, with the intention of crippling the government (Grover Norquist’s drowning the government in a bathtub).
As for terrorists, according to the NIE (National Intelligence Estimate) we are less safe now than before. You think we are killing terrorists by the boatload, when in reality we are generating more of them, according to the NIE. It doesn’t take much of a brain to see that people hate us more than ever for what we’re doing, and they will surely find a way to get back at us – what the CIA calls and fears “blowback”. This is also called Karma, or as the Golden Rule expresses it: You reap what you sow, big time.
Your side has vastly diminished the protections provided by the Constitution, and believes in “the unitary executive” which, in different words, is something the founders of this country fought and died fighting against. You talk about Stalin and Mao, and rightly fear their legacies, while being blind to the police state and far right dictatorship/enslavement you are helping to create here at home.
You talk about the left’s supposed Godlessness, and you trot out the supposed horrors of homosexuality, polygamy, abortion and the like – when you utterly fail to see your own Godlessness, your own worship of money (aka the Free Market), your own failure to follow Christ’s commandments to love your neighbor as yourself. He never once talked about homosexuality, abortion and the like, but he commanded over and over to love one another. You simply don’t get this – your reflexive hatred of anything resembling socialism prevents you from being serious about doing what Christ himself commanded. It’s touching that some of you do contribute and volunteer yourself, but this is so inadequate to what is really needed and to what is possible.
Most of all, you utterly lack introspection, and fail to see that so much of what you hate on the left is simply your own projection – you ascribe to the left what you on the right have been doing all along. The points I’ve cited above are examples of this, but there are countless others. You simply refuse to look at yourself in the mirror and be honest about what you’re saying and ascribing to others. When you start to blame liberals for X, ask if you are not doing the same thing. It’s the old saying: when you point one finger out, there are three pointing back.
Your own words sound as though they were spoken by frightened children stuck around the emotional age of seven. You don’t know how to deal with a much larger world, except through creating enemies out of everyone who isn’t like you. You wouldn’t think of talking to an actual liberal, to find out what they thought – instead you create endless strawmen, as Hawkins did in this post. This is a stupid, wasteful, and immature way to deal with the world. It won’t work.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t dangerous enemies out there – there are – but the ways you people advocate dealing with them have obviously failed, and are obviously only creating more enemies. Your stupid, myopic positions are ruining and wasting this once great country. It is you who will be to blame when America falls.
moonbat — that was beautiful.
Maha and moonbat,
Love ya 🙂
To quote from my earlier post (yes, I know it’s vain):
Liberalism: We all share the burdon.
Conservativism: The burdon is on YOU.
If you can afford it, conservativism’s a fine idea. If you can’t, it’s a disaster.
Moonbat, that rocked!
OMG, did anyone read David Brooks’s column in today’s NYT?
Maha, I’d love to hear your take on this. Please!!!
Canadian — I will defer to John Cole.
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