Monday, November 08, 2010

Crazy Lies Fuel Hate: Calling 'Em Out

Over the weekend, Rick Perlstein published a piece in the Daily Beast, an object lesson in how fake notions of civility enable lies to spread, poisoning the political atmosphere. I read it with mixed feelings at the time. If we spend our time pointing to all the lies out there - whether it's "Obama raised your taxes" (a fairly easy, simple one) or "The government took over health care" (a far more difficult one to tackle) - there would be little left to do. On the other hand, countering lies does get the facts out there. Particularly in the case of the taxes lie, countering it with the facts gets the word out that Pres. Obama actually cut taxes for the vast majority (95%! Not too shabby!) of Americans.

Still, I worry. The ball is always in the court of those who fling whatever poo they find. Obama is a socialist, born in Kenya, who wants to institute Sharia law. This outrageous idea is the currency in so much of the right, no matter how often it is pointed out as a series of self-contradictory lies, it just won't go away. Like Limbaugh's "Obama always means the opposite of what he says," it is quite literally impossible to deal in a substantive way without confronting the idea that a large portion of the American electorate premises its ideas on assumptions that aren't just wrong - they are crazy.

Yet, reading this story on the big business of pimping anti-Muslim hatred (never mind the many, many books out there claiming the great threat to our way of life from Muslim terrorists), I realized that it is, indeed, necessary to call a spade a spade and a lie a lie. It is even necessary to call the kind of thing Newt Gingrich says crazy. Because, simply put, it is.

What convinced me? The following comment on this piece, made by "Spiderman2":

With the liberals around us, nothing that is stupid is impossible. Who would have thought that these idiots will legalize gay marriage or smoking pot?

I think Massachusetts or California will be the first state to implement Sharia Law.
This is nuts. Pure and simple. It isn't "false", as if there were some set of facts that could refute it. Rooted in a whole series of assumptions that bare no resemblance to reality, it presents the crazy idea that liberals would favor the imposition of restrictive religious laws foreign to our traditions as perfectly reasonable. Rather than just "refute" it, it is necessary to call all of it - whether voiced by Newt Gingrich or some anonymous commenter - what it is. It's just plain nuts.

Virtual Tin Cup

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