A Proxy War of No Ideas
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil. - Sarah Palin’s Facebook page, August 7, 2009
Salon’s Alex Koppelman was one of the first to respond to Sarah Palin writing about President Obama’s and the Democratic Party’s alleged “death panels” and her using yet another one of her children for cheap political brownie points. First, there was the faux outrage dutifully reported and followed and followed up on by the MSM during the Sarah Palin/David Letterman feud that reached its apex when Letterman made an ill-advised joke about one of the Palin daughters.
But this pulls Sarah Palin’s depravity to a whole ‘nuther level, in using her son Trig as the lunatic far right’s newest weapon in their war on health care reform. She actually used the word “evil.”
And if anything can get the lunatic fringe of the far right legitimately engaged on an emotional rather than an ideological level, using a child with Down’s Syndrome would. Never mind that even if Obama’s so-called death panel were to become reality it wouldn’t retroactively affect Trig Palin’s quality of life or even his chances to sustain his life. Like their Muslim extremist counterparts, the Astroturf domestic terrorists that have turned Town Halls into Town Hells as Joan Walsh has been calling them are hiding among the innocent civilian population using both the young and old as human shields to show us how bad the Democrats are even as they try to torpedo everyone’s chances for whatever honest and efficacious health care reform we may yet wring from an already HMO co-opted health care bill.
Frighteningly, these reckless pronouncements by the likes of Palin are hardly the worst you’ll see in the news today. Elsewhere, you may have noted that some lone wacko had already advocated on Twitter targeting and hunting down ACORN and SEIU members and encouraging people to bring guns to these meetings if their thuggery is met with resistance.
Yesterday we’d heard of a Philadelphia cop who was busted doing a background check on President Obama. Sadly, this is not the only instance of police abusing their authority, as the same thing was attempted just last week by two other cops in DeKalb County, Georgia.
So what we’re seeing is not merely an ignorant, hateful attempt to demonize and criminalize our president’s policies but more than one overt attempt to establish the criminality of the president himself.
What we’re seeing, plain and simple, is an Astroturf form of terrorism. We’d seen traces of it at political events in years past but this time it’s mutated and metastasized on a national level, organized and mobilized by health care special interest groups and other right wing outfits. These blowhards show up merely to impede progress, so many little Mitch McConnells, bringing nothing of substance to the town halls. But it’s a proxy war being fought at the most basic building blocks of our democracy: Town Halls. It’s almost as if the very soul of democracy is at stake here and one gets the uncomfortable sense that order will finally reign supreme only after a life is taken.
In the lengthy introduction of his book, The Eliminationists, David Neiwert mentions an incident passed on to him by a reader of his blog Orcinus, one that took place in Oregon in 2004. In it, Neiwert writes,
An older couple in one of the booths next to hers was playing a card game; they told the waitress they were playing “Al Gore Gin,” which they explained meant you could make up the rules as you went along and “anything goes.” When the waitress came to the woman’s table to fill her cup with an amused look on her face, the woman remarked that it sounded more like a “Bush game” to her. Overhearing this, the card-playing couple started talking loudly about the virtues of President Bush.
Soon the occupants of another booth-three men, one middle aged, and two in their twenties-began chiming in loudly. In the process of declaiming the virtues of the President, the older man turned to the woman and remarked, “I hate all you fucking Democrats. You fucking deserve to die. Hopefully, we can kill the fucking bunch of you soon.”
Less than six pages later, Neiwert puts his finger on a point that I’m not altogether convinced even he was aware of. On page 12, Neiwert began discussing a seminal book by the historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen entitled, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. By page 13, Neiwert writes about the (all too appropriately termed) “palingenesis”:
The Nazi example clearly demonstrates how eliminationist rhetoric has consistently preceded, and heralded, the eventual assumption of the eliminationist project; indeed, such rhetoric has played a critical role in giving it permission (emphasis Neiwert’s) for it to proceed, by creating the cultural and psychological conditions that enable the subsequent violence.
The connection between what that man in the Oregon diner said about “hopefully” being able to kill all Democrats en masse and rhetoric (especially from public officials) giving such people a green light to begin the purge was one that immediately jumped out at me.
I’m not sure if even Neiwert himself, a keen student of the phenomena, is even aware of how close we are to open, armed rebellion but those most responsible for such acts of possibly fatal violence will be the ones who will be held the least accountable unless we begin 1) making the connections up and down the food chain and 2) making sure these connections are well-publicized before someone on either side loses their life.
This is a proxy war, one fought on one side by special interest groups who know all too well what's in the health care bills in the House and Senate (and self-interested parties who probably know more about its content than any single lawmaker in either chamber) through the ignorant who only need to know one thing: If Obama's for it, I'm against it.
Many of the teabaggers we saw last April would've gotten a tax cut under Obama's proposed tax reform. Many of them may have received a $4500 rebate in the Cash for Clunker stimulus provision that's succeeded beyond everyone's expectations. And perhaps more than a few of them currently don't have insurance and that perhaps their reviled president through his (somewhat misguided) attempts at reform is trying to remedy that.
But the special interest groups and astroturf organizations that are turning town halls into amateur UFC matches are only the tip of the iceberg. Once again, we must further establish an even more far-reaching connection, that of the right wing pundits who are openly endorsing such ignorant and violent dissent and promoting birther conspiracy theories just to remain relevant.
And finally, we must not forget all it would take for the right person the say the wrong thing at the wrong time: An elected official, meaning to or not, letting a careless phrase slip that more than one person can and will misinterpret as a green light to go out and start killing anyone with long hair and Birkenstocks.
Yes, people, we are that close. And if you think we're not, let's not forget how many right wingers have gone on murderous rampages just in the first six months of the Obama adminsitration, people who simply couldn't wait until they got the green light from a careless elected official.