We’ve been witness to a concerted effort by the Republican Party, with the collusion of the mainstream media, to misdirect the American people, to draw their attention away from George W. Bush and to Barack H. Obama in his place. We’re told there were no terrorist attacks on the U.S. during the Bush administration (hello, 9/11!) but this is just the most prominent example.
Just this summer we saw Bush’s press secretary, Ari Fleischer, pretend he didn’t know when the Iraq War started. What is really important to Republicans is not Bush, whom they’d like to simply pretend never existed, but Obama. All history began with Obama.
I’m waiting for the headline asking why Obama didn’t save Jesus. Why, Obama, why?
This works on a smaller scale too, where what can’t be wished away can be ignored. Bill O’Reilly laughably claims he is an independent while toeing the Fox News line. So does the less notorious Joni Ernst, though when she opens her mouth you can see she’s all about the tea bagging.
And even if it does come up, because we insist on talking about it, we are told the extremism of Republican candidates doesn’t matter. The mainstream media broke its longstanding rule on institutional silence on Republican extremism in 2012, but they seem to have fallen back into their own ways this midterm election cycle. Just the other day, George F. Will, as Media Matters for America tells us,
[D]ismissed Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner’s support for federal fetal personhood legislation that would outlaw abortions and some birth control measures nationwide, suggesting that Gardner’s position is irrelevant because the legislation has “zero chance of passing.
Media Matters relates that, “In his October 17 syndicated column, Will sought to neutralize some of the most controversial parts of Gardner’s record: his past support for a statewide personhood bill in Colorado and current co-sponsorship of the Life At Conception Act in Congress”:
Gardner favors over-the-counter sales of oral contraceptives. In addition to being common sense, Gardner’s proposal is his way of making amends for formerly advocating a state constitutional “personhood” amendment (it is again on the ballot this year and will be decisively rejected for a third time) and for endorsing similar federal legislation that has zero chance of passage. By defining personhood as beginning at conception, these measures might preclude birth control technologies that prevent implantation in the uterus of a fertilized egg.
Really? So the fact that you think the law will never pass in the first place makes his extremism irrelevant? How does that work, exactly?
The white-washing of Gardner did not end with Will. As Media Matters goes on to relate,
The Denver Post editorial board’s October 10 endorsement Gardner, which pardoned his history of opposing marriage equality and abortion rights. National women’s group NARAL: Pro-Choice America blasted the Post for endorsing a candidate with positions “that deeply conflict with the paper’s previous editorial stances.”
So it just never happened. The National Review Online has tried the same tactic with regards personhood amendments. It’s not the amendments that are the problem, they insist, but “liberal lies” – in other words, liberals who – contra the media and Republicans themselves – tell the truth about the consequences of such laws.
What really tripped up Mitt Romney in 2012 was that his millions of mutually contradictory positions on nearly every subject caught up to him. His lies got so big that even the right-wing media elite could not ignore them.
But this is rare. Willful ignorance is still the order of the day.
Remember when Mormon sci fi author Orson Scot Card, who wanted his own long history of anti-gay rhetoric ignored when his story Ender’s Game was made into a movie. He was afraid nobody would go see it if it was known what an anti-gay bigot he is, so he tried to say, “Well, look, you guys won the culture war anyway so why hold this against me?”
It still matters. If the culture war was won by us, he wouldn’t keep spouting his anti-gay bigotry, but he hasn’t stopped. He’s still an anti-gay bigot.
The facts do matter.
Yet according to Card it is not his own intolerance on trial but, rather,
“It will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.”
Dollars at risk, the film’s distributor agreed with Card. Get over it already!
Ah, so…the guys you persecuted are the real bad guys!
Actor Harrison Ford, star of Ender’s Game, said that, “I think we all know that we’ve won. That humanity has won. And that’s the end of the story.”
But it’s not the end of the story. You can still be fired for being gay in many states. Gay couples cannot yet be married in every state. The battle is a long way from over, and the defeat of exremists does not excuse extremism.
If it did, why did we try the Nazis at Nuremberg? Couldn’t they have just said, as Card did, “It will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of Judaism will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.”
It doesn’t work like that. You cannot simply announce the past no longer matters, that your extremism no longer matters.
The mainstream media isn’t going to tell you about right wing extremism unless it is impossible to ignore, and as you’ve no doubt noticed, they can ignore quite a bit. I’m convinced that many in the Republican base are ignorant of Republican extremism, even if it is a willful ignorance rather than a lack of exposure.
But I’m also convinced that even when exposed, many of them simply shrug. As I wrote last year, Republicans think there should be no consequences for their hate – except to those who are the targets of that hate, of course.
When the media woke up to Republican extremism in 2012, the Republican reaction was to claim there should be on consequences to their extremism by accusing the mainstream media of stealing the election.
All the media did – for a change – was report the facts. It actually quoted Republican candidates. Yes, telling the truth is stealing. Telling the truth is lying. Even though all we have to do is run the tape to prove the truth is the truth.
And Orson Scott Card is on record as having said that “tolerance is not the fundamental virtue.” He is clearly correct in speaking of Christianity, which begins with the intolerant statement that there is no God but their God.
But tolerance is essential in a modern liberal democracy. A modern liberal democracy demands toleration for its diverse and pluralistic citizen body.
We are faced these midterms with a seemingly endless parade of intolerant and hateful Republican candidates. Don’t let them pretend, as Rand Paul would do, that they’re moderates. Rand Paul is not a moderate but a secessionist-friendly Christian nationalist.
The others, Scott Walker, Sam Brownback, Rick Perry, Rick Snyder, and others, are not moderates either. They’re haters. They are ideological and religious extremists along the lines of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. And their hate, win or lose, does matter.
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.