Teh Crazy, Left and Right

It doesn’t surprise me that a truther pulled a gun and started shooting outside the Pentagon yesterday (let us be grateful no one was killed). It also doesn’t surprise me that now rightie bloggers have identified the shooter as a “Leftist.” Because, you know, even though the Right celebrates rage, violent rhetoric and guns, only lefties ever actually kill anybody. Right.

At Patterico’s, one commenter gets the Sanity Award:

Everybody feel better now? You should, because THIS time the shooter is not tied directly to the unhinged, violent anti-government rhetoric of the right. No, this time he’s tied to the unhinged, violent anti-government rhetoric of the left. So, good job, unhinged, violent rhetoricians of the right, you are clearly the better of two viles this time.

Once again, what the wingnuts don’t get is that political ideology is circular, not linear.

Taken to extremes, the unhinged and violent of whatever political persuasion end up at the same point on the circle. And the absolute north and south poles of the circle are neither Left nor Right. The die-hard truthers have been hovering around the north pole for quite a while.

That said, is David Brooks right to call the Tea Partiers “Wal-Mart Hippies“?

To start with, the Tea Partiers have adopted the tactics of the New Left. They go in for street theater, mass rallies, marches and extreme statements that are designed to shock polite society out of its stupor. This mimicry is no accident. Dick Armey, one of the spokesmen for the Tea Party movement, recently praised the methods of Saul Alinsky, the leading tactician of the New Left.

If the Right wants to copy the tactics that helped to marginalize progressivism for 40 years, who am I to argue?

The parallels are not perfect. The New Left, for the most part, organized to address legitimate issues such as civil rights and ending the war in Vietnam. The Tea Partiers are organizing around fantasies about tax increases and gun grabbing.

Also, when you’ve got people like Dick Armey speaking for you, you just lost the Pure Grassroots Anti-establishment Power to the People Award.

And isn’t it odd the way Saul Alinsky, of all people, has suddenly become a fixation of the rightie hive mind? Back in the day I sorta kinda knew who Alinsky was, but that was about it. From what I know of him, he was more of an organizer than an anarchist. According to Wikipedia,

Alinsky described his plans in 1972 to begin to organize the White Middle Class across America, and the necessity of that project. He believed that what President Richard Nixon and Vice-President Spiro Agnew called “The Silent Majority” was living in frustration and despair, worried about their future, and ripe for a turn to radical social change, to become politically-active citizens. He feared the Middle Class could be driven to a right-wing viewpoint, “making them ripe for the plucking by some guy on horseback promising a return to the vanished verities of yesterday.” His stated motive: “I love this goddamn country, and we’re going to take it back.”

Wow — “some guy on horseback promising a return to the vanished verities of yesterday.” He foresaw the rise of Reagan.

Update: It appears the shooter was a devotee of libertarians’ favorite economist, Ludwig Von Mises. If so, then whatever the shooter was, he was no “leftist.”

19 thoughts on “Teh Crazy, Left and Right

  1. They’re more than simple racists. They’re exploited, cognitively challenged hyperventilators who are apparently unable to construct an argument. It is always easier to be against something than for something. Racism’s but one plank in their platform. Their thinking is so chatoic and disorganized that they cannot sustain any organized movement without the support of corporate agitators but they will line up and follow any angry, unctuous distillation of themselves that comes along. God help us if that happens.

    The media really needs to start pressing some of the conservative nutcases like Tim Pawlenty about those who literally take up his cry to “take a nine iron and smash a window out of big government in this country by flying planes into buildings and shooting up government facilities. …but the Pentagon? Huh? Military spending is the only spending the right likes. Nobody said they were smart.

    The best message I can distill from the tea party movement, which I’ll admit is laced with racism, is not one regarding “we the people” but rather “me, not them”…a by-product of the divisiveness sown by conservatives seeking to maintain power.

    While there are some parallels with the 60’s era left there are differences in being faced with conscription in a war based on flimsy premises and the slow-motion downward economic spiral brought on by a government dedicated to special interests. It’s more significant that college students have taken to the street en masse to protest their dismal prospects than are tea party events attended by more media than event participants. Unlike the tea partiers these young people can connect the dots and understand that the problem is not “big gummint” but wrong-minded, elitist government consisting of politicians funded by and catering to the ever-present cadre of lobbyists…a gift from the military-industrial complex so feared by the great Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower. The icon of today’s right, Ronald Reagan couldn’t begin to fill Dwight’s jock strap, despite how important macho seems to be to the conservative chickenhawks today.

    One has to admit that the right has almost conceived the perfect coup in the form of a way without a draft with no sacrifice, other than being urge to go out and shop, being demanded of the citizens. Most people seem to be satisfied with that.

    Let’s see how much longer the media can focus on tea partiers, “the Three Stooges” of movements and ignore the significant one that is emerging.

  2. “If the Right wants to copy the tactics that helped to marginalize progressivism for 40 years, who am I to argue?”

    Although the ethics of Alinsky’s tactics are certainly open to question, I’m not sure I entirely agree with you on this one, Maha. Alinsky’s community organizing and union activities in the south side of Chicago were not only effective, but beneficial to those who lived and worked there. And his play book is still considered a valuable tool in union negotiations where large business and corporations hold most of the cards. The Republican/corporate noise machine has made the man out to be a wild-eyed public enemy, but there are a lot of workers in this country who — albeit unknowingly — enjoy a higher standard of living thanks to Alinsky.

    Which raises the thorny question: Do the ends jusify the means? Or are there no ends, but simply only a series of means? And there, I tend to get bogged down. Arrgh.

    • muldoon — I should have been clearer; I wasn’t referring to Alinsky’s tactics but to the more aggressive tactics of the New Left generally, which was more about street theater than organization.

  3. Stack and Bedell preached hybrids of left and right militancy. They shared what I call the Bloodhound’s Dilemma; they could smell the rot but they couldn’t see it. Therefore their inept targting and tactics. Suicide theater is counter-revolutionary, and taxmen and soldiers are honest underlings, not corrupt overlords.

    I recommend nonviolent tactics; sit-ins, marches and the like. How about a blockade of the Bohemian Grove? Or a march on Wall Street? Or occupying the Stock Exchange? That would be to the point! But risky…

  4. If life was fair, everyone who called this shooter a “leftist” because he hated Bush has to accept that no “true” rightie could hate Bush.

    I reckon a lot of those people condemning the shooter as a “leftist” (rather than condemning him as, say, *a shooter*!) were willing to condemn Bush during the last election.

  5. It is now being reported, with the Pentagon shooter’s family as source, that the Pentagon shooter had a history of bipolar disorder. His family made that point that it was his illness and not his character which I can buy…with the politics being only a veneer overlaying his mental problems.

    But, on the other hand, how many other truthers are similarly afflicted to some degree. These afflictions are not black or white you know? They run the gamut.

  6. I remember reading somewhere that “The Truther’s” were moving to the right recently. Why? First, it was questioning the way that the Bush Adminstration handled not only the 9/11 attacks, but the pre and post attack. I still have a lot of questions myself. I just don’t throw myself anywhere near them.
    Now that Obama is President, “Truther’s” may have morphed with the anti-government movement pretty seemlessly, now that the non-white guy’s in charge.
    It will be interesting (frightening?) to watch as this unfolds.
    Violence is not anywhere close to a solution at anytime, unless… Well, the Warsaw Ghetto battles are an example of when it may be appropriate. And, we ain’t anywhere close to that yet. So, until that day comes, put a belt on your pants, not in your assault weapons.

  7. Hi commentators. My advisory in college was a pupil of Saul Alinsky and lectured about him all the time. I think Maha is correct in her assessment – though I always thought the folks like Rush Limpdick always called him “radical”. For rush any one who cares about those with a bank account under a million dollars is a radical. In any case – I have nothing to add to this – its beer a clock in my world.

  8. Sorry Barbara, I didn’t mean to break your posting policies of civility with my last post – the awful joke was inappropriate. To correct myself, Rush Limbaugh would say anyone who cares about non-millionaires and the distraught is a radical.

  9. This is going to get more interesting. The GOP is at a record low, 20% of registered voters. They don’t want to reject libertarians. The teabaggers are recruiting anyone with a gripe against ‘big gubmint’. (That’s the definition of libertarian.) The pressure has been building – for the last year, demand for ammo has outstripped supply. There are reports of citizen militias.

    These last two cases are not even the tip of the iceberg.

    What the teabaggers and GOP has to do is tone down the rhetoric – be less inflamitory – reasonable. And this they cannot do. The whole movement is based on ‘revolution’ with violent overtones heavily implied. If conservatives can dance between the poles of hateful rhetoric and a claim of non-violent compliance with the electoral process, they will do well this November.

    Link them with more hate-based anarchy and they are going to be toast.

  10. I think a bit of care is “in line” when using certain terms. “Truther” is nuanced.
    Over the past 35 years, I have worked in the trades as an ironworker, pile driver, and commercial diver. I am currently a structural inspector.I have a working knowledge of engineering, I have built a bunch of things, and have taken a bunch of things down, sometimes with the aid of explosives.
    Any person who believes that three buildings fell at free fall speed into their own foot print without some strange assistance beyond the airliner strike is either a fool or delusional, especially since two of the three were struck.
    Having said that, something about the 9/11 investigations stinks to high heaven.
    I don’t know the wherefore or the why, but the “official” story is pure crap.
    I have a very good friend who is a forensic specialist, he tells me there is a movement consisting of architects, engineers, and forensic specialists who are working on revisiting the subject with the intent of discovery and prosecution.

    If “Truther” means a “black helicopter fruit cake” who shows up at tea-bagger events with a gun strapped to his thigh wanting to water the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots that is one thing, but to question the preposterous story of 9/11 and the insuing invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan is not in any way crazy.We did not go to Iraq and Afghanistan to free people.

    There are many unanswered questions, and the fact that well over a million souls have perished, the fact that torture of unimaginable proportions, including anal rape by U.S. guards, carpet bombing, the use of white phosphorus and incendiary cluster bombs, etc, in an urban setting on civilians, is beyond disturbing.So disturbing that the military goes to great lengths to hide the carnage.

    I don’t know who is pushing these teabagger nuts to the brink, but let’s not “link” them to “truthers” or those on the left who believe in a Bush conspiracy.
    The only group to gain anything from the crazy behavior is, once again, the PNAC crowd. They have one purpose only, the destruction of the opposition, and their stated purpose is to destroy the opposition. They need to be prosecuted and put away for a long time. As long as Obama refuses to address the issue of prosecution of Bush administration “evil-doers”, the Genie remains out of the bottle, and more of the crazys will set their sights on the “government”.
    “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities”

  11. It seems to me that our society goes through “fads” of crazy-person violence. In the 70s it was “shoot a politician.” After Lennon was killed, it was “shoot a celebrity.” Starting in the 90s it was “shoot an abortion provider.” Now it’s “randomly attack the government,” except “the government” is represented by some low-level worker who now will never go home to his or her loved ones. Tragic echoes of each period’s more acceptable forms of insanity, maybe.

    • Bob — thanks for the link. I would think that admitting one has had sex with a mule before finding God would make you a real political contender in Georgia. Too many damnyankees have moved to Atlanta, I suppose, but I bet the guy picks up some votes in rural areas.

  12. I second what erinyes said. The official story is scientifically nonsense; the evidence points straight towards implosive demolition; this plus coverups plus crass political exploitation, and yes, it stinks to high heaven.

    But what to do? Debunk, inform? Yes, but then what? Ultimately prosecutions of Cheney, Bush and so on for high treason and war crimes; fine; but how to get there from here?

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