Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Divorced from reality

Roy Edroso makes an important point:

The "eliminationist" tropes we've been hearing about recently are part of the problem, but so are the less violent notions we see them parroting every day: That Obama is a Muslim, an alien, a psychopath, and consciously trying to destroy the United States; that Teddy Roosevelt was a dangerous radical; that America's scientists are engaged in a deliberate conspiracy to bankrupt the nation via global warming fraud; that deficits, which were harmless and even kinda fun under Reagan, are under Obama a menace to the future of our famous statues; etc. etc. etc.

The cumulative impact of this kind of magical thinking may or may not lead to assassinations, but it certainly weakens the sufferer's ability to respond to even obvious problems in any reasonable way. And in the long run this is more dangerous to the Republic than the grrr-lookit-me-I'm-a-Minuteman blood-lust we're currently focused on. The wingnut looks, for example, upon millions of citizens financially unable to visit a doctor when they're sick, and the first thing he asks himself is, "How can we defend these people from socialism?" He sees the stock market doing great while ordinary people can't find jobs, and surmises, "This Administration is anti-business." Etc.

Even if you embarrass them (fond hope!) into talking less about guns and revolution, you aren't touching the real problem. I'm not confident that it's curable. The best we can do is keep them away from sharp objects and the levers of power.

Threats and violence are not the only danger posed by the right. The increasing disdain for logic and empirical evidence is really just as worrisome. Here much of the blame must go to the media. Too often gross distortions, lies, and paranoid fantasies are given credibility through their repetition in print or on the air. Those of us willing to dig further for the truth are a minority of media consumers. Many Americans don't trust right-wing talking points, but also are convinced that the left is equally unreliable. They give up on trying to make sense of public policy, and follow politics only for the entertainment value of fights and scandals.

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