Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Not just for theaters

We long ago entered the Bizarro Universe that is Rush Limbaugh's version of reality, but it remains informative to observe it in action. For instance, take Limbaugh's proclamation that the Virginia Tech killer, Seung-Hui Cho, "had to be liberal."

Reasoning: Cho evidently hated rich kids, which in LimbaughLand is the purview only of liberals. Limbaugh evidently has never been much exposed to poor or working-class kids, many of whom are decidedly not liberal, and who also decidedly hate rich kids.

Moreover, if he was a liberal, he didn't much seem to care that many of the people he was murdering in cold blood were also liberals. As my commenter mjfgates points out:
Well, now I've heard about a heroic Muslim, a heroic Jew, and a couple of heroic liberal ivory-tower academics.

Haven't heard about any Rush Limbaugh fans, though. Funny.

Along the same lines was Newt Gingrich bloviating that liberals were to blame for the Virginia Tech shooting because of their invidious cultural influence. But then, as Cliff Schechter notes, Newt has something of a history of blaming every spectacular crime or ugly event on liberals.

Perhaps the most instructive of these was the time he blamed liberals for the Susan Smith affair -- you know, the case of the South Carolina woman who drowned her children in her car and tried to fob it off on a mysterious one-armed black man. At the time, Gingrich said, mere days before the 1994 election: "I think that the mother killing the two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things. The only way you get change is to vote Republican."

As Norman Solomon observed a little later:
Journalists might also ask Gingrich about Smith's stepfather, Beverly Russell. Prior to the kids' disappearance, Russell was busily campaigning not for the depraved Democrats, but for Newt Gingrich and his minions. Russell was a Republican leader in South Carolina and local organizer of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition.

During the nine days that Susan Smith had the country hunting for a nonexistent black carjacker, Russell urged nationwide prayer for the two missing kids: "All we can do is pray. This is a nightmare."

A prominent businessman and stockbroker, Russell married Smith's mom after she divorced Smith's dad (who later committed suicide). From the age of six, Russell raised Susan Smith in an upper-middle-class, church-going home. Gingrich's campaign comments notwithstanding, the home was free of counterculture and welfare-state influences.

But Susan Smith attempted suicide at age 13, and at age 15 told authorities that her stepdad had been sexually molesting her for at least a year. Her mother helped talk her out of pursuing charges against Russell. (At age 18, she attempted suicide again.)

The child-abuse case against the well-connected businessman smells of a cover-up. It's not known exactly how long the molestation went on, because the case file mysteriously vanished. And Susan Smith was not even represented in court by a lawyer or guardian, as required for minors.

The social-service worker who investigated the molestation testified at the murder trial that although Russell admitted the abuse and agreed to seek counseling, she was "concerned" that law enforcement closed the case so quickly.

Whatever counseling Russell underwent had little impact. The murder trial revealed that he was still having sex with his stepdaughter as recently as two months before she killed her kids.

While nothing can begin to excuse the horrendous act of drowning children in a lake, it's clear that Susan Smith suffered far more trauma in her youth than any girl should have to endure.

And most of the trauma was inflicted -- not by McGovernik Democrats or welfare bureaucrats -- but by an abusive stepfather who publicly championed "family values" and "school prayer" as partisan Republican issues.

Ah, projection everywhere. You remember projection. It's a strategy -- a rather brilliant conservative-movement strategy to simultaneously attack liberals and to clear the playing field for whatever behavior you want to indulge:
Whether it's sexual improprieties, slander, treason, or unhinged behavior, it doesn't matter: if the right is jumping up and down accusing the left of it, you can bet they're busy engaging in it themselves by an exponential factor of a hundred.

... For a long time, I really believed that this was simply the right acting out on its own psychological predisposition. But as it's gathered volume and momentum -- especially as the right has avidly accused the left of the very thuggishness, both rhetorical and real, in which it is increasingly indulging -- a disturbing trend began to emerge:

What is particularly interesting about this kind of projection by conservatives is that it then (as the comments indicate) becomes a pretext for even further eliminationist rhetoric against liberals -- and eventually, for exactly the kind of "acting out" of rhetoric that Van Der Leun foresees from liberals.

In other words, for a number of the right's leading rhetoricians, the projection appears to be perfectly conscious: it is a strategy, designed to marginalize their opposition and open the field to nearly any behavior it chooses.

Shockingly (I know), Gingrich and Limbaugh aren't the only Republicans identifying liberals with the Virginia Tech killer. In fact, somehow, every little movement-cnservative frother out in the hinterlands began picking it up and running with it. Funny how that happens, too.

The most prominent of these was Melanie Morgan at KSFO, whose exploits transmitting hateful, violent, and eliminationist rhetoric over the public airwaves have already been duly noted.

Morgan, in a WorldNetDaily column [Note to Morgan: If you're hoping to establish some vestige of credibility, WND is not exactly the place to publish], took the liberals=Cho meme and turned it into the world's most inappropriate metaphor:
I have lived on the other side of the gun barrel pointed by Media Matters for America for the better part of three years, and I know what it feels like when a bunch of crackpots with keyboards pull the trigger, backed by millions upon millions of dollars in funding from George Soros.

I co-host "The Lee Rodgers & Melanie Morgan Show," a conservative news/talk program on KSFO 560 AM in San Francisco, every weekday morning for four hours. Liberals are disgusted that our conservative program is one of the most-listened to radio programs in the notoriously liberal San Francisco Bay Area. We've endured several vicious campaigns waged against us by liberal activists with the backing of Media Matters for America, as they worked ruthlessly to have us silenced.

Several times these left-wing free speech Nazi's have almost succeeded.

The transcripts and audio files of my comments have been excerpted, misrepresented and reconfigured to take statements out of context, reprinted with lies and distortions, and then disseminated to other liberal media outlets with fierce resolve.

The Democratic Party wants to silence us, and they use Media Matters for America to wage a war against us replete with character assassination, personal threats, lawsuits and efforts to have us fired or suspended.

I can live with being targeted by these "vile, despicable ankle-biters," as Bill O'Reilly calls Media Matters. In an odd way, the attacks against me have energized me to fight even harder for the conservative causes I believe in. One of those causes includes the right to bear arms, a right that had been denied to the students and professors at Virginia Tech University who were unable to defend themselves from a deranged murderer who took no notice of the school's status as a "Gun Free Zone."

But make no mistake – the campaign by Media Matters for America against Don Imus is part of their way to send a message to conservatives on the airwaves and in print: "We're comin' to get you. We got Imus. And we'll get you, too." It is a chilling threat to our free speech rights in this country.

Now, with their current crusade in support of the gun control lobby, Media Matters is targeting our Second Amendment rights as well.

Like that mentally unbalanced and angry gunman at Virginia Tech, they'll methodically march through the domiciles of the conservative movement, targeting the movement's leaders for career elimination – until and unless we stand up and fight back against their campaign of mayhem against conservative leaders and causes.

Now, in the good ol' days some editor would have gotten ahold of this column beforehand and explained to Morgan that making a metaphor comparing a murderous rampage, in which many people died and many more suffered, to a relatively mainstream organization's sedate, factual, accurate, and reasoned criticism of someone's work is, well, a bit over-the-top.

It is, in fact, in the very poorest of taste, because it trivializes the very real death, bloodshed, and suffering of Cho's victims, as if Morgan's discomfort and concern about being called to task for her own words and actions could somehow rise to the level of moral consequence as the horror that befell those innocent victims.

But there are no editors of note these days in publications like WND and other right-wing meme dispensaries. Certainly, as Media Matters itself notes, factuality has a long tradition of being not merely an afterthought but a purposeful stranger to Morgan's operation. Not only does MM have no connection, financial or otherwise, to George Soros, but Morgan has engaged in the lowest of smears against him:
Morgan has smeared Soros in the past, agreeing with co-host Lee Rodgers' assertion that Soros "apparently very cheerfully and willingly went to work for the Nazis" as a young boy, and adding that Soros did so to "further his own career." KSFO's program director announced in a subsequent show that Rodgers' and Morgan's comments about Soros "are not accurate, and KSFO regrets that they were broadcast."

Outsize, absurd, nonsensical and illogical metaphors are the hallmark of right-wing projection in action. Which leaves us only to deduce that, once again, the eliminationists are busy hankering for liberals' elimination and wishing they could be taken out by a brave and heroic John Derbyshire (as Bruce Willis).

Not that anything resembling real action is likely to emerge from this pathetic pack of fantasists, trapped in their own little Bizarro Universe. The problem, as always, is the poor kook they manage to eventually work up into another fine murderous froth. And then they'll find a way to blame it, as always, on liberals. Works every time.

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