The charge of racism has been leveled against critics of President Obama’s health-care reform by everyone from New York Times columnists, racial activists, and Democratic legislators to senior statesmen like Jimmy Carter (“It’s a racist attitude”), Bill Clinton (“some . . . are racially prejudiced”), and Walter Mondale (“I don’t want to pick a person [and] say, ‘He’s a racist,’ but I do think the way they’re piling on Obama . . . I think I see an edge in them that’s a little bit different”).
But are Obama’s critics really racists?
It is a serious charge. If true, it means the hope of a color-blind society is essentially over after a half-century of civil-rights progress. If false, it means that we have institutionalized vicious smears as legitimate political tactics — and, in the process, discredited the entire dialogue that surrounds racial prejudice.
And that was post-Van, but pre-Rush. Regarding the attacks on the latter, Shannon Love explains “What the Limbaugh Quote Hoax Really Tells Us”:
Watching so many serious journalists and leftist political figures fall for the fake Rush Limbaugh quotes tells us something very frightening about what leftists believe true about non-leftist America. I say, “frightening,” because we evaluate the level of threat that others pose based on our understanding of the amorality of their beliefs. Then we rationalize the harshness of the methods we are willing to employ against them based on our threat assessment. We are much more willing to use draconian methods against people we view as extremely evil than we are against people we judge less evil. As a nation, we were willing to employ much more draconian methods to defeat fascism than we employed to fight anyone else. The same basic principle applies to our internal conflicts as well. The more extreme and dangerous we view our political and social opponents as being, the more tolerant we become of extreme measures to oppose them.
Given this, what does it portend for American non-leftists that a wide and powerful swath of the American left apparently believes it quite credible that a major media figure with an audience in the tens of millions looks back fondly on slavery and approves of political assassination? What draconian methods could those leftists rationalize using if they really believe they are fighting people with such values?
As I have written before, immersion in fantasy is a defining aspect of leftism. As they move progressively towards the left pole of the political spectrum, the realities become more and more immersive while becoming more and more detached from reality. At the far end of the spectrum, the leftists become delusional to the point they believe they are trapped in a gotterdammerung struggle of good versus evil that justifies any action they might take in fighting that struggle. When dangerous fantasies, once the providence of the 5% most radical left, become accepted as true in the 40% just to the left of center, the rest of us are in great danger.
So we have to ask: Just how seriously deluded is the mainstream American left that they believed it credible that Limbaugh actually said the things attributed to him in the fake quotes?
Let’s be clear about what they believed Limbaugh actually said:
I mean, let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.
You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honor? James Earl Ray [the confessed assassin of Martin Luther King]. We miss you, James. Godspeed.
How can anyone believe that a mainstream American figure would believe such things, much less speak them aloud? As a practical matter, how do they imagine that a celebrity such as Limbaugh, who is one of the most recorded people in America, managed to keep these quotes hidden for so long? Why isn’t there audio or video of him making these or similar statements? How has he managed to be on the air for 20+ years without making more than these two slips?
Only someone seriously immersed in a deep fantasy about Limbaugh’s beliefs would swallow such quotes without checking them or thinking about the practical possibility of Limbaugh making such statements without every person in the world knowing about it within the hour. More troubling, not only would they have to believe that Limbaugh thinks that way but that his audience does as well.
They fell for the hoax because their fantasy about the evil of non-leftists tells them that most non-leftists think this way. They didn’t need to check on the provenance of the quotes any more than the rest of us need to check an assertion that the sun came up in the East this morning. It was just that obvious to them.
So, we come back to the main question: What methods could these deluded leftists justify using against the rest of us if they really believe we hold such beliefs and values as are inherent in the fake quotes? What couldn’t they justify doing to drive such people from politics or even the nation itself? We even have to ask, what level of violence could they justify using against us?
This isn’t about Limbaugh. They clearly view Limbaugh as just the most visible manifestation of tens of millions of Americans pining for the good old days of slavery. Make no mistake. They aren’t just targeting Limbaugh as someone so evil that they can justify any extremity in fighting him.
They are targeting the rest of us as well.
Good thing the current administration could never be accused of cynicism.
Update: Patrick Ruffini tweets, “‘Is the GOP racist?’ is the new ‘When did you stop beating your wife?’”