Thursday, June 03, 2010
Crackpots and conformityDude, what did you put in that tea?
Gene Lyons looks at The tyranny of partisan groupthink Salon 06/02/2010, making the point that a figure like Rand Paul has to be taken seriously enough to refute his ideas rather than simply dismissing them because they are out of what current conventional wisdom assumes to be acceptable mainstream thought.
That doesn't mean that we need to treat crackpot ideas as anything other than crackpot. Or to argue endlessly with fanatics who have no intention of changing their minds, maybe not even the ability to do so. Or with people who have so little judgment about public affairs and news that they take Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck as reliable sources for factual information.
He cites a headline suggesting that far-right "libertarian" Rand Paul is crazy over his Bircher-style opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act:
Sophomoric is more like it. As the 47-year-old ophthalmologist was still in diapers back in 1964, he has no firsthand memory of the beatings, nightstick and dog attacks, murders and assassinations that accompanied the last days of Jim Crow. But anybody styling himself a "libertarian" ought to understand what "legal segregation" consisted of: systematic, state-sponsored denial of black citizens' constitutional rights.Lyons refers to a column Merdity Oakley (itself apparently not freely available online) which provides examples from the days when the Pauls' brand of "libertarianism" dominated the Deep South:
Struck by the ritual nature of today's political rhetoric, Oakley reprinted several letters that first appeared in Little Rock newspapers during the traumatic Central High School integration crisis of September 1957.Ed Sebesta has created a web archive where the White Citizen's Council newspapers of 1955-61 are available. It's article sound like a template for a lot of Beck's and Limbaugh's cracked commentary, though it often uses more explicitly white supremacist language.
Today's Tea Partiers, of course, are also known to use racially-charged language at times, too, as Mark Potok reportsin TeaParty.org Founder Labels Obama With Racial Terms Hatewatch 05/28/2010
Tags: radical right, republican 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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