Friday, September 24, 2010

Misunderstand, Exaggerate, Fear ... and WIN!

What is it with right-wing tribalists and insidious conspiracies? Why the incessant need to exaggerate their enemies' threat/size/power/organizing prowess?
['s Robert] Spencer has been one of a handful of neocons -- along with Frank Gaffney and Daniel Pipes, among others -- who have been sounding the alarm about Sharia law for years. They warn that Sharia, a system of laws defined by the Koran, is taking hold in the United States, and that it will eventually threaten the very Constitution.

Their warnings, so long spoken from the fringe, are now at the heart of today's anti-mosque rhetoric.
I've mentioned before the Tea Partiers' (and other right-wing partisans') weird inability to understand their enemies' motivations -- for want of a better word, their total lack of empathy. Maybe their mirror neurons are malfunctioning. Anyway, this belief that Teh Enemy is covertly working to undermine Amerka from within is somehow related. Certainly, ignoring your opponent's real motivations makes it easy to ascribe your own, but I don't see why Tea Party Dupes and their ilk are so ready to believe that their opponents are so formidable.

Now, it's easy to understand why Tea Party leaders would want to exaggerate Teh Dread Sharia Law Threat!!!11one! Enhancing group cohesiveness and fervor, of course. But is it just the bizarre, overriding in-group loyalty and "follower" mentality that causes the Dupes to fall for this kind of bullshit?
Gingrich has, likewise, seized on these Sharia fears (as have less famous politicians in Oklahoma). At the Values Voter Summit last weekend, he called for the U.S. government to ban Sharia law.

"We should have a federal law that says sharia law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States," Gingrich said to a standing ovation. "No judge will remain in office that tried to use sharia law."
'Course, it's nothing new:
Proponents of McCarthyism claimed that the CPUSA was so completely under Moscow's control that any American Communist was inevitably a puppet of the Soviet Union. As J. Edgar Hoover put it in a 1950 speech, "Communist members, body and soul, are the property of the Party." This attitude was not confined to arch-conservatives. In 1940, the American Civil Liberties Union ejected founding member Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, saying that her membership in the Communist Party was enough to disqualify her as a civil libertarian. In the government's prosecutions of Communist Party members under the Smith Act (see above), the prosecution case was based not on specific actions or statements by the defendants, but on the premise that a commitment to violent overthrow of the government was inherent in the doctrines of Marxism-Leninism. Passages of the CPUSA's constitution that specifically rejected revolutionary violence were dismissed as deliberate deception.

In addition, it was often claimed that the Party did not allow any member to resign, so a person who had been a member for a short time decades previously could be considered as suspect as a current member. Many of the hearings and trials of McCarthyism featured testimony by former Communist Party members such as Elizabeth Bentley, Louis Budenz, and Whittaker Chambers, speaking as expert witnesses.

No comments:

Post a Comment