Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Language of the Right - Are They Brainwashed?

Just when I think I can relax and give everyone a breather, something else stirs my blood and I am driven to speak out. I was very proud of Mayor Bloomberg last week when he spoke for Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech and the Rights of Property, all American values and tradition, when he approved the use of the Muslim property near the location of the destroyed World Trade Center to be used as an Islamic Mosque. A true "Conservative" would want to conserve those values. Those values are institutions in our heritage. What I heard in response was outrage from the Right-Wing movement that would deny those rights, evict those Muslims from the property they have owned for twenty-seven years and banish them from the Earth. What I heard was fear and bigotry. I also heard sentiments and a yearning for that "old South" of pre-Civil Way days, a Klu Klux Klan sentiment waving Confederate Flags and toting guns, yearning for those cotton fields and slavery, and from another faction of the Right-Wing, a neo-Nazi sentiment of the skin-head movement, all of which make up the Right-Wing movement of today, along with the Tea Party and fundamentalist Evangelicals and which the Republican Party has aligned itself with. Isn't it obvious?

Is there no thought from that movement on what would have happened had the South won the Civil War? For example, how could America have become such a great nation, a bastion of Freedom, based on a "cotton" economy and slavery? And so, we come to a battle over taxes and the willful misrepresentation from the Right that those G. W. Bush tax cuts that so crippled our country should not be allowed to expire. David Kaiser's article, "The last Congressional battle of the year," says it all with historical perspective and pointing out the Republican plans and intent to dismantle our government. That is alarming. What then? In fact, there is a willful intent from the Right to do just that. I'm going to use those words, "willful intent," a lot in this article. A willful intent to disregard the best advice from those that know what they're talking about. Warren Buffet, for example, said, and I paraphrase, "The rich should pay more taxes. It is not right that I pay 15% and my secretary pays a higher percentage than I do." He should know! Or, when GE CEO Jeffry Immelt pulls his company, along with others, out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of its obstruction of and lobbying against clean environment and clean energy legislation. Don't we want those things? A willful intent to disregard the best advice of our best economist, our best bankers, our best oil industry engineers, and our brightest in academia who all say we need regulation in one form or another and that we can't allow willy-nilly corporate anarchy to run our country. It seems to me that there is a willful intent, and perhaps even pride, in being ignorant. Perhaps it is even a fear of that "group mentality" around us, or should I say "mob" mentality. A fear of being disliked by our peers or in our church group or our business group. A fear that feeds on itself and makes everyone in it follow the Palin mob, or the Glenn Beck mob or Rush Limbaugh mob, in spite of the Klu Klux Klan or Skin-head rubbing elbows with us, the company we keep!

I've known for sometime now how to recognize a person's political sympathies regardless of how hard they try to scoot under the radar and pretend they are unbiased or claim to "consider both sides." They are not fooling anyone. Sometimes it pains me to know the political sympathies of a Right-Wing sympathetic person, especially a good friend or a member of the family, and I, out of courtesy, try to temper my impulse to "get in their face" or to challenge their beliefs. But, I still wonder why there is such a huge difference between our beliefs and our understanding of America. Don't we have the same genes? Did we not grow up in the same place, knowing the same people of that place? Did we not read the same history books? Listen to the same teachers, or to parents taught by those teachers? Did we not all go to the same churches and listen to the same preachers? Where not all of those people we knew and those experiences we had kind, considerate, compassionate, fun and loving?

I thought they were all of those things. I realize that some differences will grow between us because of our experiences over the years that would sway our sympathies and passions toward liberal or conservative thought, or somewhere in between. I understand that. But, now days, there is a huge gulf between political ideologies and America is deeply divided and there seems to be no way of reconciliation. Each side barely tolerates the other, accuses the other of being un-American, and perhaps it is only courtesy and politeness that keeps us from tearing at each other's throats or severing our relationships forever. When I listen to the language of the Right, I have to conclude that something is terribly wrong. Words don't mean the same as they once meant. Conservatism is no longer conservatism of the past. I don't recognize the lessons of the past. The lessons were not learned, somehow, or not passed on. I don't recognize our history. Our country's history is forgotten or wasn't passed on and is twisted solely for an agenda. I don't recognize our Constitution in the language of the Right and I have to constantly refer to it to make sure I understand it compared to what I'm hearing from the Right. And, I am constantly asking myself, "Do I understand what I'm reading in the Constitution?" and, "Do I have to be a lawyer to understand it?" I think I do understand it and that I don't have to be a lawyer to understand. It's plain English and easily understood. So, I have to say that our Constitution is forgotten, misquoted, misunderstood, ignored or blatantly belittled by the Right. On that side, there seems to be a willful distortion of fact and tradition simply for the sake of power and to mislead as many people as possible. It is a mob mentality. It is destructive. The language of the Right is calloused, without compassion, merciless, cruel, hateful, bigoted, divisive, nontraditional, nationalistic and extreme beyond the pale.

That's not to mention faith. It is most astonishing that a lot of Christians have joined the Right-Wing movement. I am simply flabbergasted by that. Because, when I parse the language of the Right, I see how fiercely the Right-Wing opposes initiatives to control corporate greed, or protect consumers, or help the poor or to stop the wars or to control the spending on the machines that kill, initiatives that agree much more with Jesus' teachings and actions than the language of the Right. These are all issues of social justice, kindness, charity, protecting the poor, shouting for the poor who have no voice and caring for our fellow man. In the Right-Wing movement, I see an extraordinary contradiction and a blind following that just doesn't make sense at all. When I see and hear Right-Wing Christians, I am reminded of Gandhi's statement, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are not like your Christ."

The thing about the language of the Right is that it is perfect English, said in ways and phrases that are so traditionally American, and that sound so Constitutional and so Christian and so "Family values," and could be very convincing and to many people it is, hence the huge following. Most recently everyone heard John Boehner and Mitch McConnell say repeatedly as they obstructed needed legislation "the American people want this," "The People want that," "We are doing what The People want" over and over again. And, from there that phrase can be traced down through the media talking points, FOX News, and the Fox wanna be, CNN, and from there through Fox commentators and hosts, such as Sean Hannity and Bill O'Rielly, and Clear Channel's Rush Limbaugh, and on to Mike Savage and Micheal Drudge and every Right-Wing radio and television host out there to finally end up with that Right-leaning person who I personally know. And that person I know can repeat what John Boehner or Mitch McConnell said, verbatim, with the same clarity and conviction and in the same language, and even add convincing arguments (to some) in suitable English.

In fact, when I first heard the phrase "The People" spoken by Republicans in Congress about the Health Care Bill I was convinced, because of the source, that they were simply full of it, that it was just more deceptive speech meant to willfully deceive the public. But, by the time it was repeated as a talking point so many times, over and over, and on CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC, I began to doubt myself. In fact, I did not hear one single media source deny the Republicans or speak the truth of the deception and it seemed that they too thought it "cool" to continue the controversy and be willfully ignorant. Could I be wrong? Is it really better not to provide health care to millions of people who need it? Could all of those articles and reports I read really be wrong saying that thousands die because they don't have healthcare insurance? Is the Congressional Budget Office wrong saying that there would be a savings over the long term? That the Bill would reduce our national debt? I really had to think about it, and in the end I believe my logic won out. I reread the Congressional Budge Report. I reread the Bill Summary and many of its pages. I reread many reviews and analysis from professionals and analysts. So, the answer is No. I wished for a public option, but that was defeated. But, the Healthcare Bill will save lives, will not increase the debt and if people believe that it won't do those things, they are wrong. I need only one example to show that it will save lives; KGO Radio reported on a woman who, because she could not afford and did not have health insurance, could not pay for a cervical cancer screening and did not have it done. She died of cervical cancer. I suggest asking around in your local neighborhoods for a similar story. I'll bet you find one. And, can it be denied that the new healthcare laws will help millions of people in our own country? It cannot. And, that, to me, seems to be a good thing, a charitable thing and worth the costs, if it cost anything extra at all. Why not do that? If you are so convinced the healthcare reform will not work, cancel your insurance. Let's see what you've got to say then. I think that "passing along" the language and speech of the Right, down through the media to our friends and neighbors, repeatedly over and over again, eventually convinces more and more people. It is in fact a method of brainwashing and it is effective.

I'm reminded of stories in the 1960s about subliminal messaging in advertising. The story back then was that if an ad displayed some message in a split-second, invisible to the eye but not the subconscious, then the person watching the ad would have the subconscious urge to do or buy whatever the message said. The example I remember was "popcorn." A person sitting in a movie theater would be encouraged to buy popcorn when the word "popcorn" flashed on the screen for a millisecond, even though they didn't consciously see it. I'm not aware that marketing firms continued that, but if they did, perhaps that explains all that junk in my garage that I don't need and never did. It is all the result of impulse buying. I think everyone knows how extremely effective marketing agencies and public relations firms have become. It is no longer art, it is a science, proven over and over again. With the right ad, the right stage, the right speaker or actor and right voice and right words, those agencies and firms can sell us anything, make us do anything and make us believe anything even against our own interest, beliefs and will. They can manipulate and change our minds! They know they can get to us and they do it. And, it is brainwashing and it is effective. As I see it, the Republican Party and its Right-Wing propaganda flunkies, Fox Cable News and Right-Wing talk show hosts, are doing it. They are dangerous!

Hence the division in this country. Talk to a Right-leaning person and you will get the idea that all, every last one, of those "other" news sources, ABC, CBS or NBC, and all of those "other" newspapers, New York Times, Washington Post, L. A. Times, and God forbid mentioning a San Francisco newspaper, such as The Chronicle, are all "Leftist" and "Socialist, Liberal" media. All are not to be believed, according to those who have a steady diet of FOX. And, neither is a scientific research paper or any other serious study that refutes FOX or suggests that the Right-Wing could be mistaken. It's almost a religious devotion to FOX! Maybe it is. But, it is so wrong.

Lately, the one thing I notice most is the constant and consistent Obama bashing at every turn and on every word he says, no matter what it is. One of the Rights' favorite phrases in regards to Obama is, "If he wants bi-partisan support as he says he does, he should lead by example." That's the top bashing phrase, verbatim, on the Republican, and FOX News, talking point list. I hear it repeated all of the time, from all of the usual suspects. And, it is rubbish. The President I watched over the past year bent over backwards to get cooperation from both sides. I guess they didn't see that on FOX. Another term applied to the President is "socialist," and that too couldn't be farther from the truth. In fact, and it has disappointed me, he has leaned more to the right in controlling corporate greed and bank misbehavior than I would like, and even top economists and bankers and business leaders suggested tighter controls. Even Alan Greenspan recommended tighter controls and he is about as conservative as we can get. Our new banking regulations passed by Congress has more holes (dug by Republicans) in it than Swiss Cheese and we're going to regret that. The banks are already scheming to exploit those holes in the law and they are not doing it for "our" benefit, or our kids' benefit. Yet, that appears to be the Right-Wing hope and desire. They would rather go "back" to the deregulation of the past to the causes that brought this great country to its knees, caused the loss of millions of jobs and caused millions to lose their life-long savings and homes, adding to the ranks of the poor like no time in the past since the Great Depression. Not to mention Republican obstruction of climate change legislation and extending unemployment insurance that we dearly need. It is astonishing, and the constant stream of propaganda goes on and the blind followers follow it.

I think it is all coming to a head like an ugly boil that's ready to burst, and we won't like what comes out. I see a nationalistic behavior on the Right that resembles Nazi Germany in the 1930s and I regularly go to this list of fourteen characteristics of Fascism, by Dr. Lawrence Britt who studied fascism of several Fascist countries, to see if I should check off one more characteristic that the Right has adopted. We already have our German Goebbels Minister of Information (say Propaganda) in a number of Right-Wing television and radio personalities - take your pick. How do you think all of those good German people were persuaded to follow Hitler? The answer is propaganda and fear. Who will be our dictator? Sarah Palin? She could be the one if we're not careful. The words "President Palin" sound obscene to me. We won't have Germany's version of Fascism. We'll have an American version of it. But, the outcome will be the same.

And, several of our government regulatory agencies have already become completely ineffective regulating industries. Do I have to tell you about the failure to regulate the oil industry in its off-shore drilling? Contrary to the Rights' claim that the failure to regulate BP, its oil spill and recovery, it-ain't-over-yet, is all Obama's fault, it wasn't. That agency stopped regulating the oil industry as soon as G. W. Bush moved into the White House, under the auspices of an Executive Order that was a flagrant middle-finger to long standing laws as well as the previous Clinton Administration. Yesterday I heard that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is also defunct for the same Bush-Executive-Order reason; it is unable to control the telecom and communications industry. Google and AT&T, with complete disregard for the United States Government, began deliberations together on how they were going to divvy up the Internet, charging for some content and limiting other content. The cost of the Internet is going up! Whether there is good reason or not and whether we want it or not and whether regulations now on the books contradict anything Google and AT&T conjour up. It will all depend on the greed of those companies, and nothing more, all of which is okay with the Right and the Republican no-government Party. And, then there is a very scary thought that we will not be able to find and know the truth, because access to that too may be controlled. Net neutrality is a First Amendment issue, a Freedom of Speech issue. Don't doubt that for a minute.

So, now our U. S. Senate is in a shambles, a chaotic, dysfunctional and even hateful parliamentarian government body. It was never intended to be that. These excellent articles by George Packer, a New Yorker journalist, here and here, and commented on by the Columbia Journalism Review here, should warn us of a coming and very destructive end. We are losing our Democracy. The great country of America is coming apart at the seams and it is happening in our lifetimes.

No matter what the thought is of going back to a time of before the Civil War that the Right desires, we can't go there. The "North" may not be able to bring the "South" back into the fold this time. If we split, we are ruined. Once that last brick in the wall the Right is building is sealed between us, we are forever severed from one another. Don't go there. Step back from the precipice and reject the Right-Wing mob. Put that movement behind you.


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