Thursday, February 18, 2010
A weird reverse defense of the Tea Party extremistsI hadn't heard of this guy John Avlon until Wednesday when I saw what I thought was a fairly decent piece he did in The Daily Beast: Return of the Fright Wing 02/17/10.
But one thing striking about it is that even though he was expressing seeming outrage at the re-emergence of the John Birch Society, which is kind of the mother ship of rightwing crackpottery in the United States, there was something odd about it. What he actually writes there is accurate as far as it goes. But his perspective seemed weirdly stuck in about 1965, when the Birchers had become officially unrespectable in the Republican Party. And he made it sound like their influence in the Party had been pretty marginal since then. (For more on that subject, see my post Historical Footnote on Reagan and the John Birch Society 01/31/04.)
Avlon concludes, "It is an invitation to isolation and ridicule" for Republicans to embrace the Birchers.
I was wondering, did this guy just miss the 1990s, when the Republicans were out there pimping stories about the various murders they claimed Bill Clinton had been involved with? When the "Patriot militia" movement which is pretty much the same thing as the current Tea Party movement was flourishing? And when even the most respectable Establishment "mainstream media" couldn't get enough of the Whitewater fairy tale and a flood of other fabrications from the gutter rightwing about Bill and Hillary Clinton? Not to mention obsessing to this day about Clinton's sad affair with Monica Lewinsky? Even Chris Matthews, who the Birchers and the rest of the Republicans imagine to be a mainstay of the Librul Media Conspiracy, had Paula Jones on his show to discuss the murders she accused the Clintons of having committed. Total fabrications that in 1965 no journalist who expected to be taken seriously would have promoted.
Isolation and ridicule? Is he kidding? Our Pod Pundits think the Tea Party fanatics are salt-of-the-earth Real Americans.
Then someone on a mailing list called my attention to this Australian interview of Avlon: US warned to be wary of wingnuts The World Today 02/17/10.
Knowing that he was a speechwriter for Rudy Giulani explains a lot. I noticed at The Daily Beast article that the cover of his book featured Keith Olbermann along with Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin as a "wingnut". Olbermann is as big a hack as most of his fellow infotainers who play news reporters on TV. But his politics are at best a mostly artless caricature of Democratic Party liberalism. In 2008, he had to apologize on-air twice for sleazy comments about Hillary Clinton.
(Sorry if I sound jaded on Olbermann, but his flighty piece on white racism in the Tea Party movement really bugged me. How can you screw up a topic like that? For anyone who knows what they're talking about, that's like the proverbial catching fish in a barrel.)
So, in Avlon's world, for a "left wingnut" we have a guy who does a half-assed job of playing a shrill liberal on TV. For the "right wingnuts" we have a guy who promotes lunatic Bircher-type conspiracy theories about how moderately-liberal-and-barely-comfortable-with-that Barack Obama is a communist and a socialist and a fascist and a Nazi and the new Adolf Hitler and Mao Zedong. And a female extremist politician who has worked actively with Birchers and neo-Confederates and espouses a theocratic version of Pentecostal Christianity that literally believes in demons and witchcraft and is so kooky that the largest Pentecostal denomination in America officially considers it a heresy.
I thought there was something odd about that picture.
His The World Today interview makes it clear that he's pushing the "centrist" jive our American punditocracy loves, when they aren't marvelling over the antics of Real Americans at Tea Party events. Oh, these horrible partisans - on both sides, of course - just make things so awful. And if we could just get the damn leftwing hippies to shut up and go live on a commune somewhere, and the Birchers and the white supremacists not to state their goals in public during election years, then we could all agree in a nice, bipartisan way that the budget deficit is the worstest awfulest menace to civilization ever known and we have to quick get rid of those terrible Social Security and Medicare programs and cut taxes for our put-upon billionaires.
Naturally, budget deficits are always fine if they are for wars to kill foreigners or to give more tax subsides to the wealthiest. All good bipartisan centrists know that.
Despite Avlon's horse-puckey about being against those extremists of the right and the awful hippie feminist Islamunists of "the left", his World Today interview is really an argument that the Tea Party crowd are just misunderstood Real Americans. I mean, us pore white folks are gone be a minority in our own country here fore yuh know it, and the Tea Party folks are just "the birth of white minority politics." (Those are his words.) Cause, dang, us white folks are oppressed by all these here other minorities and immigrants and sex education teachers and scientists and stuff. This part pretty much states his position:
It is a rising tide. It has not achieved critical mass yet. I think the Tea Party movement has been largely misunderstood. I keep trying to say, I mean it is less than a year old and if you look at the first tea parties which were held nationwide on February 27th of last year, it is at heart, a fiscal conservative protest movement.And, uh, organized by the Glenn Beck featured on the cover of his book as a "wingnut".
Yeah, right, "at heart" they're just a fiscal conservative protest movement (of the put-upon white minority). And Dick Cheney "at heart" is a pacifist and a civil libertarian.
Tags: john birch society, radical right, tea party
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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