Night of the Pocket Knives  

heblimpnow 44M
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6/18/2006 3:42 am
Night of the Pocket Knives

As a few of you may already know, I’m a glutton for punishment when it comes to eavesdropping on the right-wing noise machine. Without coercion, I will listen (in measured doses on a daily basis) to Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and other so-called conservative blowhards yammer away on the radio. I’ll happily read ostensibly right-wing publications like the National Post or the Wall Street Journal, will visit Little Green Footballs and the Free Republic, and even voluntarily expose myself to the bloviating horror shows of Fox News from time to time.

Now some have criticized me for this seemingly perverse behavior on the grounds that it validates their laughable contention that I’m a closet fascist. While I do indeed hold some definitely conservative points of view, let me assure you, they’re strictly of the pragmatic, old-fashioned Main Street varieties that, as Garrison Keillor put it, decry profligacy and support the kind of prosperity that raises all ships. And, for the record, I find extreme so-called “liberalism” every bit as objectionable as I do for what passes as so-called “conservatism” these days. But enough of my disclaimer…

Watching Fox News recently, I couldn’t help but notice the endless repetition of “THE ANGRY LEFT” meme. It doesn’t matter which right-wing pundit you watch, it’s the same thing: “the angry left” this, “the angry left” that. It seamlessly punctuates their blather at every possible opportunity. While this line of attack isn’t anything new of course, its sudden and quite vigorous resurgence did strike me as somewhat odd.

One only has to look at blogs such as Powerline, Instapundit, Hugh Hewitt, Michelle Malkin, LGF, Free Republic (here, Free Dominion or any number of Blogging Tories) or listen the daily fulminations of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, John Gibson and their ilk to get a sense of how ANGRY these people are. Evidently, they’re always getting screwed by someone or other, dammit. Now, I know that’s their shtick, but applying Milton Friedman’s “trickle down” theory, the torrent of angry bile eventually seeps into the very bedrock of the average conservative. Rush Limbaugh has 20 million listeners who are damn proud to call themselves “dittoheads” for christsake. One cannot deny that the opinions of these right-wing media blowhards have so deeply infiltrated the political discourse to the extent that it’s perfectly acceptable to brand all lib/Dems as being “angry” by nature and no one even gives this ridiculous notion a second thought.

While many of those of us on the left or middle of the road have a tendency to consider it irrelevant or dismissively laugh it off as hyperbolic nonsense, I suggest that we ignore it at our peril. Such a passively tame reaction allows us to be effectively “framed” (as George Lakoff would say) in the public conscious by the right-wing. These wild characterizations must be attacked and countered at every opportunity. Contrary to the children’s rhyme, while sticks and stones may break your bones, names can and do hurt you.


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