Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pillars Of A Shared Faith-- And The Celebration Of Stupidity


Earlier today I attempted to indict Palin and Beck and that crowd for their supporting roles in the mass murder in Tucson. I gave a swing at comparing their hate-mongering and winking and nodding at right-wing terrorists to the actions of Pakistani fundamentalists who spew out identical hate-filled messages-- and were directly responsible for the assassination of Punjab Gov. Salmaan Taseer. Most Americans haven't a clue who Taseer was so it may have caused some readers to just blur over. But, aside from being the governor of Pakistan's biggest and most important province, Taseer was an extremely well known and greatly admired secular icon from a prominent literary and left-wing family. His father was a well-known progressive poet and his mother was an Englishwoman who went to British India in the '30s to support the struggle for independence against her own country. Taseer himself was arrested 16 times and was once in solitary confinement for over 6 months, shackled to the ground. His political allies Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and, more recently, Benazir Bhutto, were both victims of right-wing assassinations-- as he was on January 4th.

Yesterday Dave Neiwert, our country's foremost expert on domestic right-wing terrorism, posted a map at Crooks and Liars of all those "isolated incidents" involving terroristic violence directed at "liberals" and the "government" that have added up into a serious trend, which has been, of course, studiously ignored by the corporate media. You can find everything you need to know about right-wing terrorism in Dave's book, The Eliminationists but today I want to expand on the matter by quoting from a book I'm currently reading, Will Bunch's brilliant follow-up to Tear Down This Myth, The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama. Chapter 2, "The Incredible Story of How Obama Lost in 2008," finds Bunch ay Kirby & Holloway's Family Restaurant in Dover, Delaware with 3 very typical, completely bigoted, brainwashed right-wing imbeciles, Alex and Theresa Garcia and Russ Murphy, founder of the Delaware 9-12 Patriots, a Glenn Beck support group. They're explaining why drooling right-wing clowns can tell you with a straight face that Obama lost the election in 2008 (and isn't a legitimate president, even if he was born in the U.S.-- which, of course, they all know for sure he wasn't).

Murphy gets the ball rolling by explaining that "people voted for him because he was black... they thought they were making history." But it was Theresa who cut to the chase: "He did not win the popular vote. He won the electoral vote. If you took into account the popular vote, he lost by a landslide." You see this is the revealed wisdom of Tea Bag Nation. Apparently they are entitled to their own facts. In the alternative universe known as reality, Obama won 365 electoral votes to McCain's 173, so Theresa was partially correct. Obama won the electoral vote. He also won the popular vote-- with 67,842,818 (52.8%) to McCain's 58,989,852 (45.9%). It wasn't close. And Obama won more votes than anyone ever running for president in history. His was also the biggest percentage win since 1988 when George H.W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis with 53.4%. [As for winning the popular vote and losing the electoral vote, the only presidential election in contemporary history where that happened was in 2000 when the Supreme Court awarded George Bush the presidency by shutting down the Florida vote count. The final vote was 50,999,897 for Al Gore (48.4%) to 50,456,002 (47.9%) for Bush. Because 5 partisan right-wing Supreme Court judges awarded Bush Florida's 25 electoral votes, Bush wound up with 271 votes to Gore's 266.]
[The] urban nature of Obama's support was exactly the point that the Garcias and Russ Murphy were awkwardly trying to make. When Alex Garcia has finished his monologue [how McCain won more land] about the big states and the small states, you sheepishly note-- more of a question than a statement, really-- that Obama and his native-son running mate Joe Biden actually carried Delaware, did they not? (By a landslide margin of more than 100,000 votes in fact.)

"What it is," said Alex Garcia, "... is Wilmington."

"Wilmington!" chimes his wife, Theresa.

Wilmington, with 72,826 people, an hour north of your diner booth, is the largest city in Delaware by far-- capital of the American credit-card industry and also plagued by more violent criminal enterprises, a crowded world apart from the marshy spaces of lower Delaware. The city of Wilmington is roughly 10 percent Latino and about 35 percent black; in 2008, Obama carried New Castle County-- Wilmington and the surrounding suburbs-- by a two-to-one margin while McCain narrowly won the rest of the state, including small towns that his running-mate Sarah Palin once called "the pro-America parts of the country."


"They get a lot of influence from New Jersey and New York because a lot of the New York and New Jersey people live in Wilmington, and that's a big influence," Alex is saying, "and they're really into the welfare state-- it's a handout area up there. When you start coming down below the [Delaware] Canal into Kent County and Sussex County, it's a totally different way they voted."

A long silence settles in over the table. Plates clink. Toddlers babble in the background, as soft rock descends from a speaker overhead. The big platters of spaghetti and meatloaf arrive, and the once talkative Murphy is bent over his mound of pasta, handing off to the Garcias the task of further explaining McCain's glorious 2008 victory.

But, you finally stutter, should votes from Wilmington actually count less?

"There's more of them," Theresa says.

"It's population," adds Alex.

"They're in the big cities," says Theresa. "That's what the problem is."

So are you saying that voters from Wilmington aren't the real America?

"They represent the welfare America, the handout America-- what do they call it, the nanny state, everybody is taken care of," explains Alex. "When you get into the big areas like that, everybody is expecting their free handout... You have a lot more of the... how would I put it... a lot more of the welfare recipients, stuff like that."

There is a famous and somewhat apocryphal anecdote about the New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael saying from her liberal bastion in Manhattan that Richard Nixon could not have won the 1972 election because every single person she knew voted for George McGovern. Here is the flip side: that looking out on the "pro-America" horizon from the Kirby & Holloway, it is impossible to imagine that someone like Barack Hussein Obama could have won a presidential election-- or even that he is a United States citizen. These things are the pillars of a shared faith.

...Their uprising was something the likes of which America had never seen before-- whiter, older, and more affluent, yet angrier than anyone could have expected, whipsawed into rebellion not by the hormonally raised expectations of youth but instead by a nonstop sedentary couch-potato bombardment of unfiltered fear.

...The proof came in conversations like this one-- with their search for a Pyrrhic victory, their contention that Obama's win couldn't be legit because it sprang instead from the "handout areas" like Wilmington, that the real America would be killed by majority rule as opposed to the Constitution-embodied values that their movement embraced. The more that you talked to people like Theresa Garcia, the clearer it became that the deep-seated psychological roots of this quest to deny the legitimacy of the forty-fourth president arose from a first vague and then growing discomfort that a man like Barack Hussein Obama had the audacity to put himself forward as the face of their America.

It's exactly how Qari Hanif Qureshi, Mumtaz Qadri and their people felt about Salmaan Taseer.

I know, I know, neither pulled the trigger

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