Thursday, March 4, 2010

False Comparisons

As Glenn Greenwald so often likes to point out, establishment media types are obsessed with the notion of creating equivalencies, no matter how misleading or even blatantly false, to give the appearance of striving for balance in their reporting.

Yesterday, David Brooks of the NY Times did an extremely piss-poor job in drawing similarities between the New Left of the 1960s and the Tea Party right of today:
To start with, the Tea Partiers have adopted the tactics of the New Left. They go in for street theater, mass rallies, marches and extreme statements that are designed to shock polite society out of its stupor. This mimicry is no accident. Dick Armey, one of the spokesmen for the Tea Party movement, recently praised the methods of Saul Alinsky, the leading tactician of the New Left.
He goes on:
[M]embers of both movements go in big for conspiracy theories. The ’60s left developed elaborate theories of how world history was being manipulated by shadowy corporatist/imperialist networks — theories that live on in the works of Noam Chomsky. In its short life, the Tea Party movement has developed a dizzying array of conspiracy theories involving the Fed, the F.B.I., the big banks and corporations and black helicopters.

... members of the Tea Party right, like the members of the New Left, spend a lot of time worrying about being co-opted. They worry that the corrupt forces of the establishment are perpetually trying to infiltrate the purity of their ranks.

How convenient, huh? Except it's bullshit. The '60s left was led by intellectuals; today's Tea Party movement is led by no one in particular and is largely a monolithic boiling pot of crazy. It's a mob mentality based on one central fear -- this country is being led down the drain by a n***er Muslim born in Kenya. Their love of conspiracies is completely schizophrenic; if they really believe that power is manipulated by a cabal of the Fed, the F.B.I., big banks, etc. then why are they so unconcerned with the idea of deregulation of the financial sector? Why were they unconcerned about Bush's program of warrantless surveillance? Why did they not scream for Greenspan's head when he pushed his Objectivist agenda through fiscal policy and let everyone fend for himself? Yeah, I hear those crickets too...

Incidentally, Bob Cesca has a great piece on this topic, by the way:

This isn't an epiphany by any stretch. From the beginning, with their witch doctor imagery, watermelon agitprop and Curious George effigies, the wingnut right has been dying to blurt out, as Lee Atwater famously said, "nigger, nigger, nigger!"

But they can't.

Strike that. Correction. founder Dale Robertson brandished a sign with the (misspelled) word "niggar." So they're not even as restrained as the generally unstrung Atwater anymore.

Most of the time, they merely imply the use of the word. Rush Limbaugh referring to the president as a "black man-child," for example. Every week, a new example pops up on the radio and somehow the offenders are able to keep their job while Howard Stern is fined for saying the comparatively innocuous word "blumpkin." Limbaugh, on the other hand, can stoke racial animosity on his show by suggesting that health care reform is a civil rights bill -- reparations -- and no one seems to mind.
Not only that, but Brooks draws this inane comparison:
But the Tea Partiers are closer to the New Left. They don’t seek to form a counter-establishment because they don’t believe in establishments or in authority structures. They believe in the spontaneous uprising of participatory democracy. They believe in mass action and the politics of barricades, not in structure and organization. As one activist put it recently on a Tea Party blog: “We reject the idea that the Tea Party Movement is ‘led’ by anyone other than the millions of average citizens who make it up.”
My italics. Again, bullshit. Everything the Tea Party movement does is political theater. Actually, strike that. It's more like a political circus masking a highly organized and generously funded network of a few radical neocons who want to parlay the unhinged populist backlash into a return to GOP power. But the people involved, from the Palins and Bachmanns to the Armeys and all the way down to the blue-haired, NRA-card totin', Depends-wearin', flyover state hickory stick hick, are totally fucking impotent. They stand for nothing except wishing the president would drop dead (or, if that doesn't happen, that he serves one term only). Without a true vision that serves to unify people instead of stigmatizing and marginalizing "others," they will get absolutely nowhere.

I dismiss the movement in its entirety, but fear the willingness of the establishment media to equate this movement with a reasoned, educated and focused movement that brought voting rights, civil rights, and women's rights to millions, while turning public opinion against the Vietnam War, illustrates just how feeble today's journalists have become. As the headline of Greenwald's latest puts it, "The Full Scale Collapse: From Murrow to Blitzer." Ironic name -- "Wolf" -- for such a powder-puff.

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