Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Edroso and CPAC 2011

I would hope most people are already reading Roy Edroso's witty anthropological forays into the Right-Wing Waste Land. They'll provide valuable evidence for future civilizations seeking to understand our destruction, and they supply much-needed solace through communal laughter in the meantime.

Recently, he attended CPAC, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. This archive page has most of his entries. For a shorter overview, there's his Village Voice roundup of CPAC, and for Esquire, he penned "The 25 'Best' Quotes of CPAC 2011." (Esquire's other CPAC pieces are quite good, too.)

There's also his Village Voice roundup for Reagan's birthday, for Alternet, "10 Historical 'Facts' Only a Right-Winger Could Believe."

CPAC produced some true gems of logic and rhetoric, but two really stand out for me. Here's #1:

"Our liberties, which have made us great, are now destroying us."
- Rev. Michel Faulkner, at the CPAC "Traditional Marriage and Society" panel.

Many right-wingers really do seem to believe that "freedom" should only belong to them. Steve Benen examined various tea party slogans back in August 2010:

This is about "freedom."

Well, I'm certainly pro-freedom, and as far as I can tell, the anti-freedom crowd struggles to win votes on Election Day. But can they be a little more specific? How about the freedom for same-sex couples to get married? No, we're told, not that kind of freedom.

This attitude may be unconscious, or rarely spoken aloud, but it offends right-wing social conservatives if someone outside their tribal group exercises individual rights, without their permission. "Freedom" somehow means superiority, privilege and power – and just for them.

Here's #2:

"It's just like a liberal, they import slaves, they hold slaves, they fight for slavery, they go to war in a civil war to defend slavery. They then install legal discrimination against blacks for a hundred years…"
- Ann Coulter.

Coulter is a bullshitter, of course, and doesn't care about accuracy. She's out for a response, normally either outrage or approval. (My long piece on her is here.) But the bullshit factor of this statement is so blatant, not just ahistorical but anti-historical, it highlights that her audience a) doesn't know better, and/or b) doesn't care. Republicans can and sometimes do still claim the legacy of Lincoln and the civil rights movement, but those were liberal Republicans. The abolition, suffragette and civil rights movements are definitional for liberalism. (Civil liberties, ahem.) Anti-historical approaches to the Civil War from right-wingers are nothing new. Still, there is no universe where Coulter's statement is even coherent. Where's her pride of craft? It's not even good propaganda. Nor is it a good pander, even for an audience that believes that conservative chestnut that "liberals are the real racists!" The CPAC crowd is full of the angry white social conservatives who tend to buy into most poisonous aspects of the Old Confederacy myth (and it shows in their racial attitudes). Emotionally if not regionally, they tend to identify with an aggrieved white South. Coulter has simultaneously called the South in the Civil War 'wrong' and 'liberal.' That makes no sense, even in the mind of a right-winger.

I wonder if any of the audience even noticed, though. The Republican Party is entirely plutocratic, and has almost no interest in responsible governance at all. Movement conservatism has even less, and it's nasty, reckless, and sometimes nihilistic. As I've written before, Coulter, Limbaugh, Beck and the rest aren't selling facts, they're selling grievance, cultural solidarity, an emotional truth, and the Two-Minute Hate. Right-wing audiences simply do not care if their leaders are corrupt, incompetent and lie to their faces – as long as they get their scapegoat.



Cirze said...

Nicely put, my friend.

I'm still gulping over your precise description of the indescribable brain waste.


Marc McDonald said...

The disgusting, bloated tub of lard, Rush Limbaugh, recently attacked the lovely Michelle Obama, saying that she's "no swimsuit model."
For the obese Limbaugh to criticize ANYONE'S physique is just plain bizarre.
These people and their deluded followers live in the Twilight Zone and there is no reasoning with them.
BTW, nice piece!