When the Right Wing hears an unwelcome fact, it either pretends that fact never existed, or argues it away by attacking the source. This is what happened recently when conservative fantasies of terrorists sneaking across our Southern border came under fire from the Department of Homeland Security: Sean Hannity immediately chimed in, from deep within the impregnable echo-chamber, and said that you can’t trust those liars at DHS.
As you know if you get your information from outside the echo chamber, because the real threat to America lies within its own borders in the form of well-armed white militias, the Republicans who promote these militias point south of the border down Mexico way, where “icky brown people” make a juicier target for the ethnic nationalist (völkisch) GOP base who are, we are told, “racism’s true victims.”
It has to be true, right? After all, the Republican Party itself insists ISIL is going to sneak across the border and rub Ebola-tainted body fluids all over you. What could be more frightening for a poor white Evangelical than a dark-skinned Muslim man with body fluids?
Media Matters For America (MMFA) explains the genesis of this tale:
What began early this summer as an unsubstantiated claim from Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) that “people that are coming [across the U.S.-Mexico border] from states like Syria that have substantial connections back to terrorist regimes and terrorist operations,” (a claim PolitiFact Texas rated “Pants on Fire”), has morphed into a full-blown right-wing conspiracy theory. Conservative media and elected officials are hyping fears that members of the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) terrorist group are utilizing the U.S.-Mexico border to enter the U.S. and launch terrorist attacks, a chorus that has only grown louder in the ensuing months to attack immigration reform.
Keep in mind here that the Pentagon immediately debunked Perry’s claim. Media Matters continues:
In September, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) claimed to have seen information detailing “four individuals trying to cross through the Texas border who were apprehended at two different stations that do have ties to known terrorists organizations in the Middle East,” a story subsequently hyped by Fox News. Nearly a month later, the number had jumped from four terrorists allegedly apprehended to 10.
Fox News’ On The Record provided a platform to Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) who claimed to have first-hand knowledge of the terrorists crossing the border. Host Greta Van Susteren replied to Hunter’s allegations by asking, “Do you have any information, or any evidence, that they are actually coming in the southern border now?” And Hunter responded, “Yes. … I know that at least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas,” citing information he’d received from border patrol agents.
The only problem is that none of this is true. The Department of Home Security says the claim is “categorically false.” According to DHS spokesperson Marsha Catron:
The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the Southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground,” said DHS spokesperson Marsha Catron. “DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border.
Of course, this unwelcome dose of reality led to Sean Hannity’s predictable reaction.
We have heard all kinds of crazy in relation to our southern border: Bill O’Reilly and others want a nice big wall, with or without alligator-infested moats (Sean Hannity wants a wall to protect us from Canada too!); Bryan Fischer says our border was established by God and should not be crossed without permission, though we have yet to see the Lord appear at a border crossing to check visas. Ann Coulter’s solution is to do some ethnic cleansing of those areas, to sweep away people “infected” with darker hues.
The problem is that because Republicans live in their own world, and have their own “experts” on every subject, the real world is seldom allowed to intrude on their fantasies. And they thrive on terror. Like the kids in the horror film-spoofing GEICO commercial, they’ll eschew the running car to hide in the garage full of chainsaws, where they can cast themselves as victims.
We must constantly remind ourselves that the issues we talk about here will never make it into the bubble. If they’re not suddenly screaming Benghazi, they’re playing Hannity or accusing us of ignoring facts for “feelings,” even though our last Republican president started two wars, three, really, if you include the “war on terror,” based on what his gut – not facts – was telling him.
A hatred for humanity is no basis for a system of government, and that is all Republicans have at this point, as Mike Huckabee has shown by calling for even more hate. I write this knowing the reaction my words will have on a shield so impermeable that it could have saved the Death Star from Luke Skywalker.
We can’t reach them. That is the sad and inescapable truth. If it was only Fox News, it would be bad enough. But for every time NBC’s Chuck Todd touches upon reality there are dozens where he, or people like him on the mainstream media, simply recite Republican talking points.
We can only rally, as that part of America not closed off to the effects of our shared reality, to un-do the evil they have wrought, and will still inflict upon us and the world if given half a chance.
Republicans like to say just because you don’t believe in God doesn’t mean God doesn’t believe in you. But let’s turn that around and apply it to a real-world setting: just because you don’t believe in reality, doesn’t mean you’re immune to it. It will come back to bite you in the backside. And while they’ll just blame the nearest Democrat, all of us will have to deal with the fall-out.
We can agree to vote this midterm, and expose our independent-minded fellow Americans to actual facts: that both parties don’t do it; that both parties are not the same; that only one party wants to keep people from voting; and that voting FOR a party that will take that right away doesn’t make much sense in the grand scheme of things.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.