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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Why do they hate America?

by folkbum

There is a standard trope (I almost typed tripe! funny!) among conservatives that liberals and "the left" hate America, that we blame America first, that we want Americans to die and think that those who do die deserve it.

It is, of course, a lie. With the exception of isolated idiots that the mainstream (and even most fringe) "left" reject wholeheartedly--i.e., the unemployed Ward Churchill--no leftists are out there with the message that America deserves or needs an attack, no one on the left says Americans need to die.

This is not true for the right. Recall that days after September 11, 2001, it was not the left blaming Americans for the attack, but the right. (Sure, that fool Churchill eventually wrote his "little Eichmanns" essay, but no one read it until Bill O'Reilly made Churchill famous.)

Even today, six years after 9/11, conservatives are still lusting for American deaths. The most recent glaring example of this is the Stu Bykofsky essay you have probably heard about. Bykofsky laments that America is no longer united, which, in his opinion, seems to mean that people have turned against the policies of the president and his misguided war. The fault belongs to "chipmunks" who are concerned over such trifles as civil liberties. (I, too, lament the lack of unity, but I place the blame elsewhere.) Bykofsky's solution to this lack of unity? Kill Americans:
Because we have mislaid 9/11, we have endless sideshow squabbles about whether the surge is working, if we are "safer" now, whether the FBI should listen in on foreign phone calls, whether cops should detain odd-acting "flying imams," whether those plotting alleged attacks on Fort Dix or Kennedy airport are serious threats or amateur bumblers. We bicker over the trees while the forest is ablaze.

America's fabric is pulling apart like a cheap sweater.

What would sew us back together?Another 9/11 attack.

The Golden Gate Bridge. Mount Rushmore. Chicago's Wrigley Field. The Philadelphia subway system. The U.S. is a target-rich environment for al Qaeda.

Is there any doubt they are planning to hit us again?

If it is to be, then let it be. It will take another attack on the homeland to quell the chattering of chipmunks and to restore America's righteous rage and singular purpose to prevail.
There is no one on the left seeking such a horrible thing. Honorable conservatives should be backing away from Bykofsky and doing to him what they did to Churchill (fair's fair, after all). Instead, they embrace him:
For the record, I actually agree with him. We have forgotten 9/11. The Drive By Media has intentionally removed it from our TV screens and from our national consciousness. [. . .] We no longer have the national will to fight a long, drawn-out war like World War II. That is a sad commentary on the instant-gratification tendencies of the American public. Dumbed down badly by gummint-run skoolz, easily led around like sheep by Drive By Media polls used to shape rather than reflect public opinion (or to reflect the effectiveness of negative reporting by the Drive By Media), the American people seem to want the war over in 30 or 60 minutes less time for commercials.
That's one of our well-read locals. While there is a legitimate point to be made about the media's tendency to play to the lowest common denominator and focus on trivia, the answer is a better media, not the murder of innocent Americans. The comments at our local's blog are no better: "Ummmm….mega dittos" is perhaps my favorite--such a bright contribution to the debate!

But this one shows the mindset I'm talking about: "My fear is that the national electorate will not blame the terrorists but will blame the Bush administration for the attack." These are the same people who fall all over themselves to blame Bill Clinton for the 9/11 in the first place, but then they show utmost concern not for those who will be dead, but rather that Bush not be blamed.

These are not isolated sentiments, either. Bill O'Reilly tells al Qaeda to attack San Francisco (to be fair, that's because he doesn't like Nancy Pelosi, though, not to "wake up" America); supporters of even moderate Republicans want the same thing. Even Reaganite Peggy Noonan is getting dangerously close to calling down the dirty bombs. And she does it with the same line of thought as our local all-star:
We make it too easy for those who want to hate us to hate us. We make ourselves look bad in our media, which helps future jihadists think that they must, by hating us, be good. They hit their figurative garbage bin lids on the ground, and smirk, and promise to make a racket, and then more than a racket, a boom.
The more you look, in fact, the more you find the rhetoric on the right ratcheting up--against America. The inimitable digby echoes a theory I've heard in several places:
I guess this is the predictable re-emergence of the black helicopter crowd now that the Republicans have lost their power. (These conspiracy theorists always seem to go underground when the GOP is in power. My theory is that they switch seamlessly between anti-government conspiracy to cultlike, authoritarian leadership worship depending on who's in office.)
Consider our local boy; he has repeated time and again that he's not a Republican. But he has also worshipped repeatedly with the Cult of Bush as well as made clear his xenophobia. Which fits perfectly in with the primary subject of that digby post, as well as this from Glenn Greenwald:
Every now and then, it is worth noting that substantial portions of the right-wing political movement in the United States--the Pajamas Media/right-wing-blogosphere/Fox News/Michelle Malkin/Rush-Limbaugh-listener strain--actually believe that Islamists are going to take over the U.S. and impose sharia law on all of us. And then we will have to be Muslims and "our women" will be forced into burkas and there will be no more music or gay bars or churches or blogs. This is an actual fear that they have -- not a theoretical fear but one that is pressing, urgent, at the forefront of their worldview.

And their key political beliefs--from Iraq to Iran to executive power and surveillance theories at home--are animated by the belief that all of this is going to happen. The Republican presidential primary is, for much of the "base," a search for who will be the toughest and strongest in protecting us from the Islamic invasion--a term that is not figurative or symbolic, but literal: the formidable effort by Islamic radicals to invade the U.S. and take over our institutions and dismantle our government and force us to submit to Islamic rule or else be killed. [. . .]

One way to look at the threat posed by Islamic radicalism (let us call it Option A) is to see it as the Epic War of Civilizations, the Existential Threat to Everything, the Gravest and Scariest Danger Ever Faced which is going to take over the U.S. and force us all to bow to Islam. Another way to look at it (let us call this Option B) is to dismiss it entirely, to believe there is nothing wrong with Islamic radicalism, to think it should just be completely ignored because it poses no dangers of any kind. There are, however, other options besides A and B. Therefore, to reject Option A is not to embrace Option B.
Greenwald is right on with that middle-ground thinking, but it is not something the right would consider. For example, las week Jose Padilla was finally convicted of something. I remember quite clearly the day they arrested Padilla; John Ashcroft was on my radio telling me that this scary guy was on the verge of dirty-bombing a major US city. All the scary charges faded away, and eventually the cultists were reduced to "He will communicate in code by blinking." And the right is lapping it up. One commenter there thinks adherence to such niceties as civil liberties is a liberal weakness:
You libs are pathetic. The military captured Padilla and his confession would not have been allowed in a criminal trial.

His confession to domestic terrorism would not have admissable, so once libs insisted he be tried as a criminal, he was off the hook.

Libs simply don't get it. They probably never will. [. . .] A convicted terrorist doesn't please Jay, because Jay is an immature liberal.
Besides being wrong about who arrested Padilla, apparently that commenter confuses Padilla's conviction on tenuous charges equivalent to "off the hook"--and blames liberals for it. Because liberals in this case defended distinctly American ideals such as not torturing people and not lying through you let-the-eagle-soar teeth, it's America who's let that commenter down. As Barbara O'Brien succinctly puts it, "They dismiss what was done to Padilla, yet they are so afraid of terrorists they betray the central founding values of our country."

Don't believe me? Read some of what the government actually wrote about Padilla:
Because Padilla is likely more attuned to the possibility of counsel intervention than most detainees, I believe that any potential sign of counsel involvement would disrupt our ability to gather intelligence from Padilla. Padilla has been detained without access to counsel for seven months--since the [Department of Defense] took control of him on 9 June 2002. Providing him access to counsel now would create expectations by Padilla that his ultimate release may be obtained through an adversarial civil litigation process. This would break--probably irreparably--the sense of dependency and trust that the interrogators are attempting to create.
Did you follow that? Your tax dollars have funded this kind of thinking--that, as Marty Lederman phrases it, "legal process must be entirely denied Padilla so that he will come to think that all hope is lost--that he is in a world without law or due process. As long as he even thinks that he is subject to the Constitution and laws of the United States, the "relationship" of "trust and dependency" is broken."

It seems to me that the active rejection--and support for the active rejection--of the most fundamental founding document of these United States is a far greater threat, ultimately, than the irrational fears "that Islamists are going to take over the U.S. and impose sharia law on all of us," as Greenwald put it. While we are not yet (and not ever likely to be) forced to wear burkas or give up the ham and swiss sandwiches, we are right now living in a country where the government and its cult-like followers think it okay--indeed, desirable--to strip American citizens of basic Constitutional protections out of fear that they "might communicate in code by blinking."

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