The left, including this writer, has made a career out of denouncing right-wing extremism, mainly the Tea Party and those Republicans more interested in destroying a president – and in the process, the country – than they are in working to solve the very serious problems facing our country.
Liberals justifiably mock the right’s ignorance of basic civics, the country’s history and the Constitution; after all, part of being a responsible citizen is in knowing these things. Signs with misspelled words advocating “English Only” are met with derision; posters with the swastika are met with outrage. The right’s lies, distortions and hypocrisy are greeted with a mixture of ridicule and outrage and held under the microscope by non-partisan fact-checking organizations – along with those from the left.
Harsh criticism is leveled at the racism implicit in signs at Tea Party rallies and on billboards, on edited photographs, in emails and snail mail, and on social networks. Nowhere is this more exemplified than in their tasteless personal attacks on the current President and First Family; even the children are subjected to racist attacks.
These character defects should and do attract disapproval from most decent Americans, regardless of political persuasion.
But do I detect an echo? Can it be said that the far-left is sounding like the extremists on the right and adopting some of those very same character flaws we so vigorously reject and condemn?
The Bloggerhood: Free Speech and Hypocrisy
Very early on in my blogging career I read about how Pam, a conservative over at The Oracular Opinion, stepped in to help her friend Shaw at Progressive Eruptions who had to have surgery and needed help to keep her blog running. Liberal bloggers applauded her acts of kindness; right wingers all but tarred, feathered and ran Pam out of Blogger Town on a rail. Her crime? Aiding and abetting the enemy.
A liberal who used the name Blackwaterdog was hounded off Daily Kos by a loud, noisy chorus of ugly rhetoric. She started her own blog appropriately named The Only Adult in the Room. But the “purists” weren’t satisfied; they wanted to annihilate her. This dehumanizing effort was led by none other than Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, a good buddy of Jane Hamsher’s at FireDogLake. Her crime? Posting positive picture diaries of the President and First Family’s activities.
Not everyone may be drawn to the content on The Only Adult but does this give her critics the right to compare her to Nazi propagandist, Leni Riefenstahl? Sound familiar?
The blatant hypocrisy and the total disregard for a person’s right to free expression because their speech is not agreeable with another’s is deplorable and unacceptable. But sadly, I see many comment zones turning into war zones with the far-left resorting to personal insults when disagreeing with more pragmatic liberals who in most cases share the same ideals but not the approach.
I would have been surprised had the main street media not started attacking President Obama the moment he opened his eyes on the morning after the inauguration. But I was dumbfounded at the attacks from the so-called professional progressive blogs. They began mildly enough but very quickly their rhetoric turned into a cacophony of ugly vitriol not unlike that heard from the far-right. Even worse, professional and non-professional far-left bloggers resort to the same kinds of tasteless personally degrading labels that they criticize the right for using.
“Obama should be like LBJ was” or “Obama needs to do what FDR did” is not too far removed from “I want my country back.” The glaring but simple reality is that we can’t go back in time; our country is facing a different set of problems with a different cast of characters. More obviously, Obama is not like LBJ, just as LBJ wasn’t like JFK, and JFK wasn’t like HST, and HST wasn’t like FDR, and so on.
We get our kicks out of mocking the extreme right for its ignorance of history but the far-left can be just as ignorant of and blind to documented historical facts.
FACT: When legislation for Social Security was introduced, Franklin D. Roosevelt dropped the national health care provision that was originally included. Why did he – gasp! – compromise/sell-out/cave? Because at that time and place in our history, he wisely understood that the Republicans would say NO to health care reform and in the process kill Social Security as well.
I wonder if anyone on the far-left during those gloomy dark days of the Great Depression accused FDR of being corrupt, a puppet, inept or a snake oil salesman.
FACT: The Social Security Act, signed by FDR in 1935, only covered workers in commerce and industry. In 1937 the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) was passed; it required workers to pay taxes to support the Social Security system. In 1939 Social Security was expanded to include dependents and survivors. Not until nearly 25 years later in 1950 was it expanded to cover jobs outside of commerce and industry and benefit levels increased. In 1956 Disability Insurance was created and has been expanded over the years.
FACT: LBJ never would have succeeded in getting civil rights legislation or the Voting Rights Act passed had it not been for Republican support. The Dixiecrats, led by Strom Thurmond, did everything in and out of the book to block it. Obama is not only burdened with the yellow Blue Dogs, he is faced with an unprecedented concrete wall of well-organized obstruction from the opposition – and now he has the far-left participating in the drive to bring his presidency – and thus the country – to its knees.
The lessons here should be obvious. Not every president can get everything he may have promised during a campaign; a foolish attempt to win no doubt but no more foolish than voters who take such promises at face value. Politics has never been a “take all or nothing” kind of game. Passing legislation is in fact the “art of compromise.” The “all or nothing” school of thought is not only unrealistic, the end result is nothing.
Bloggers Get Down and Dirty
The extremes on both sides of the political spectrum have a penchant for chanting infantile slogans: “I have a right to free speech” from the right translates into “I have a right to disagree with the president” or “I have a right to criticize the president” from the left. Yes and yes, but that is not the issue.
The issue is not in the message but in the way it is delivered, the language.
Vicious epithets directed at the President of our United States are limited only by their crude imaginations. One side is just as repugnant, tasteless and vile as the other. Epithets from the right include: Spoiled Brat, Obama Bin Lyin, Half-breed Muslim, Barack Hussein Obama, No Clue Balls Obama, Robbing Hood, Nazi, Terrorist, Barack the Magic Negro.
What’s the difference between that kind of toilet tank talk and this used by far-left bloggers? Barack Bush, Nel, HomophObama, Pootie Tang, the Black Mr. Rogers, House Negro.
I can’t help but wonder if there is a connection between the use of such invectives and the fact that Obama is the first black president.
Headlines such as “Barack Obama the Anatomical Wonder. We’re Looking for Organ and Skeletal Donors for Barack Obama” (from one of my favorite blogs no less) and crude – as in content and production videos such as this one. Recently, a headline on a particularly scurrilous blog screamed, "If you want to suck his dick, go ahead." A loyal follower told a reader who had the audacity to disagree with the content, "F--k you and go back to Europe you worthless piece of s--t."
Other Mirror Images
It’s all about “me”, not “we”.
The president is ignoring our side.
I only listen to Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann.
What party of NO? What obstructionism?
Our country is on the verge of collapse. It’s the eve of destruction.
I want it ALL, damnit.
I'm not racist.
. . .
I know we liberals like to say that we don't march lock-step with our leaders as do the GOPers, but where does it say we have to destroy them with the same sort of dehumanizing invective and emasculating and emotional strafing that the far right uses on Obama? I have seen over my lifetime a radicalization of our politics and the extremes in both parties by true believers will keep us in a constant state of combat instead of making some sort of arrangement to get done the very important work that this country needs to get done.
I wish I had said this but I didn’t. It was included in an email from Shaw at Progressive Eruptions. I owe her a debt of gratitude for her insight and willingness to guide me and keep me on track.
There are several reasons I don’t visit right-wing sights: the epithets, the hysterics, the distortion of facts, the sniping, and the doomsday mentality. Maybe I’m just uncomfortable with extremes because I find myself visiting fewer and fewer far-left sites these days. I truly feel both extremes have a humanitarian problem and that if they don’t become more realistic and less pugnacious - more willing to give and take – it will not be because of Obama that this country collapses.
Since this article was written, more and more liberals and progressives are criticizing the "far-left," or the "new progressives" (guess that doesn't include old ones like me), or the "professional left," or whatever one chooses to call them. Here are two that I highly recommend.
Lefty's 'Bath Water' Party's Wrong on Obama: 9 Facts on FDR, Truman, LBJ Show Why
The Professional Left's CEO Delusion