The great genius of “liberation theology” was to repackage atheism in Christian terminology. Through that strategem it was possible for its adherents to convince people that it was really Christian to be atheist. People respond to language in a subliminal way, like cats. If you say something in tones that punch their emotional keys they are not apt to pick apart what it means.
By contrast it is far harder to argue things directly, as if in a foreign language even when the facts are on your side, for as long as the paradigm you invoke is a hostile one. The Russians found the FBI deaf to suggestions that one of the Tsarnaev brothers was a radical Islamist. That went nowhere even though, as Jake Tapper notes, “intelligence sources tell CNN it is ‘rare’ for Russians to reach out like that, to ask the FBI to look into someone as they did with Tsarnaev.”
The problem for the Russians that such a suggestion ran straight into the teeth of conventional wisdom, the idee fixe that homegrown Islamic terrorism was a just a boogeyman. Islamic terrorism is something that only the readers of Fox News believe in. But not the ‘reality based community’. Never the ‘reality based community’. And since unicorns did not exist, Tsarnaev’s Islamism couldn’t. Roger Simon, commenting on Jake Tapper’s article writes about a particular kind of bias amounting to blindness:
Tapper’s right. … The Obama administration and most of those working for it have taken Islamic terrorism about as seriously as I am taking the Memphis Grizzlies/L.A. Clippers game currently on my TV — in other words, at best mildly interested. Not being a fan of either team, I could watch — I could switch to something else.
And when Islamic terrorism does rear its head, as in Benghazi, the administration evinces something worse than disinterest — dishonesty, lies, coverup and prevarication (sometimes aided by Tapper’s CNN cohort Candy Crowley). …
So why would we expect the nation’s police department — the Federal Bureau of Investigation — to take these matters with the requisite seriousness? The message they are getting from the top is …meh.
The Russians would have been far better served employing language the administration politically understood to get their point across. For example the Russians should have warned the FBI that Tamerlan was capable of embarking on a “rage filled rant” against Martin Luther King or that he was capable of “violence against women”, as indeed proved the case when he was arrested in 2009 for beating up his girlfriend.
And if that didn’t work they might have pointed out that the Tsarnaevs, as ethnic Chechens, were from the Caucasus. Therefore they were Caucasians. That would have pushed their buttons.
But don’t laugh. Finding the right frame to situate an issue is an important public policy skill. Despite his numerous crimes Al Capone was ultimately brought down on tax evasion. Richard Nixon fell, not due to any scandal of statesmanship but in the wake of a “third-rate” burglary at the Watergate apartments.
You couldn’t bring them down straight. But find the right angle and … as Archimedes once said ‘bring me a big enough lever and I will move the world.’ Tax evasion was the least of Capone’s offenses but that was the frame that would stick, the lever that would move the world.
Saul Alinksy understood the power of using one side’s language against itself. He always advised beating the establishment to death with its own rulebook. Why would anyone on the Left disapprove of the Boston Marathon Bombers simply because they attacked America or tried to maim and dismember people? That was how Bill Ayers got his start in life.
But it might have been a hanging offense to point out that Tsarnaev could insult Martin Luther King or beat a women. If someone can find a homophobic utterance by either brother or show they ate transfat cooked foods or drank softdrinks larger than 16 ounces then it will be all we can do to keep the surviving sibling from being lynched.
It’s not ridiculous. It’s not absurd. That’s how the liberation theology people attacked Christianity. That’s how Gramsci marched through the institutions. It works. Now that the Left is the Establishment what to do but beat them over the heads with their own rulebook?
Now Comrades, will you act? Will you learn the language of the narrative and speak in its terms?