I don’t want to get into a flaming war with the angry hardcore at FDL. It’s bad enough being vilified by white supremacists and Mens Rights Activists; I have no desire to fight with people on the left, no matter how much contempt they may have for me. As I see it, nobody’s mind gets changed and the only people who do benefit are the right.
I will say this, though. I think I might have been wrong when I’ve pooh-poohed the idea that my side of the political spectrum is as susceptible to conspiracism and conspiracy theory as the other. I’m going to concede that there are in fact people on the left who share many of the same obsessions as their counterparts on the right. By which I don’t mean that they “mirror” the right–that they see Fascists where Glenn Beck sees Communists or that they replace the right’s bogeyman Soros with the Koch Brothers, Saul Alinksy with Karl Rove.
I am using the word “share” in its most literal sense. There are people on the left who hate Obama no less floridly than the right does. They’re not full bore conspiracists. Real conspiracists traffic in patent untruths and I’m not about to accuse the FDL people of being disingenuous or misinformed. Most of what they say about Obama’s missteps, compromises, and rank sellouts are true. Gitmo, assassinations, drones, bailouts for corporations and no principle reductions for homeowners, the missing public option–Jesus Christ: I’m not about to defend or deny any of that. But where one person might see a struggling or foundering politician and a powerfully revenant right, they see sheer mendacity (as in Roger Hodge’s book title THE MENDACITY OF HOPE). One thing they do have in common with conspiracy theorists is the propensity to demonize.
I take it a little personally, because I come in for some of that myself. Right wing hate mongers who don’t know me from Adam, who’ve never read a word I’ve published, never mind engaged with me as a human being, have called me a Rothschild agent and a bought-and-paid-for cheerleader for the Rockefeller-funded New World Order. I don’t like it, but it comes with the territory. But when a psuedonymous commenter at Firedoglake says of my last blog post that “the only reason Arthur is horrified by the GOP is that with an R president in power Arthur and many of his buddies will not have access, not have cushy jobs, not get the best invitations, etc. It’s purely about what benefits him, and nothing more,” I confess it makes me feel a little bit put out. Access, cushy jobs, best invitations? Me? WTF?
But I shouldn’t be surprised if the occasional FDL commenter demonizes me when Paul Krugman is characterized as an “out of touch one percenter” and a “Ronald Reagan supporter turned Obama sock-puppet” and Van Jones as a “no Guts Coward.” Here’s a few of the things that were said about Obama in the same thread that referred to me:
“He’s a card carrying fascist himself and a member of the 1%…..Why do you think he keeps instituting policies that favor the aristocracy? It’s because he’s a member thereof, even if he denies it in his rhetoric.”
“Obama is so far right he doesn’t even possess a left flank. It’s a carefully constructed illusion that would make his idol Ronnie Reagan proud.”
“The world’s greatest living liar.”
“Poor stupid Barry thought that the plutocracy would reward him for his duplicity. Moron.”
You could find the exact same things, word for word (except you’d see Socialist or Muslim instead of Fascist) in the comments after a Fox News story–including the condescending (and possibly racist) “Barry.”
Some cautionary words from Richard Hofstadter, describing the characteristic right wing conspiracist of the 1950s and 1960s: “He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, the quality needed is not a willingness to compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Nothing but complete victory will do….This demand for unqualified victories leads to the formulation of hopelessly demanding and unrealistic goals….Even partial success leaves him with the same sense of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes.”
It strengthens the enemy too. As Philip of Macedon was reputed to have said: Divide and conquer.
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