Lately I’ve been spending too much time reading right-wing blogs and Facebook pages. Usually I leave this dirty job to Roy Edroso, but one or two have gotten under my skin and I can reliably be found checking in here and there. It’s like sneaking cigarettes when you’re trying to quit.
You wonder who the 18 percent are who think the president is a Muslim? I found a few. They use words like “usurper” a lot, not a common vocabulary word for those who insist that this or that “needs warshed.” But it’s one of those dog-whistle words; Google “obama usurper” and you get 101,000 results. This is a typical usage, blah blah blah birth certificate blah blah blah. Google “obama muslim usurper” and you get even more — 559,000.
Then I read this latest blog by Roger Ebert, and a phrase jumped out at me:
This many Americans did not arrive at such conclusions (about Obama being Muslim, or the Antichrist) on their own. They were persuaded by a relentless process of insinuation, strategic silence and cynical misinformation. Most of the leaders in this process have been cautious to avoid actually saying Obama is a Muslim. They speak in coded words and allow the implications to sink in. I recently watched Glenn Beck speaking at great length about Obama’s Muslim father, but you would not have learned from Beck that the father, who Obama met only once, was not a practicing Muslim in any sense.
Strategic silence. Yes, that’s it exactly. This, when I pick it apart, is why I’ve reached the point where I feel more or less permanently furious at about half the country. I lived in Indiana for 20 years, feeling like a drag queen in Salt Lake City, but I got used to it. I used to believe that I could call many of them friends, that they had something to offer. We disagreed, but, I would tell myself, they had arrived at this point in time via a different path than mine; of course they reached some different conclusions along the way. (This was not always an indulgence granted in return.) When they lost the presidential election, I figured they’d be sore about it, but I didn’t anticipate a two-year temper tantrum, aided and abetted by their highly paid mouthpieces, who smirk through their silence when their idiot minions roar about Marxism and socialism and Muslim usurpers.
Ebert thinks Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin may announce their intent to run for office when the former appears in the latter’s state on — would you look at that? another coincidence — September 11. I disagree. I think the chance these two will step off the Col’ Col’ Cash Express is slim verging on none. I think we’re due another stupid rally and more tiresome stories in the papers. But I think his concluding point is apt: It’s time for responsible Republicans to put up or shut up. Remember when John McCain gently told that crazy lady that no, his opponent wasn’t a Muslim? I get the feeling the powers that be in the Republican party look at that moment and smack their foreheads: No wonder we lost. The money, and the mojo, comes from the crazies, and who cares if they get every little fact right? Facts are too easy to refudiate, whereas urban legends can be posted endlessly on Facebook, e-mailed around the globe and otherwise allowed to slide.
By the way, may I just say one more thing before I leave? I read not long ago that Sarah Palin was unintentionally conjured by women like me, who “looked down on” women like her and the millions she mangles speech for. Because we are elitists. Because we know what “semiotics” means. Because we say, “that car needs to be washed” and don’t buy Cool Whip, or whatever. Well, if that’s true, I’m very sorry, believe me I am, but let’s not go all holier than thou just yet, shall we? Who, may I ask, referred to the cervical-cancer vaccine as “the slut shot,” and said that any girl receiving it would take it as an e-ticket to Promiscuityville? Who sent me sheafs of letters after I returned to work following the birth of my child, informing me I was an abusive mother? How many times have I been told I’m part of the “culture of death?”
Maybe they didn’t mean anything by those charming comments. If so, like Mitch McConnell, I take them at their word.
OK, enough ranting. I need to get some work done today. Bloggage? Maybe:
Via Hank, a mall that’s dealing with its teen problem sonically, via a device that emits sounds irritating to young ears. (What? When there’s all those Billy Joel CDs lying around?) You know what I fear as I age? The loss of my sense of smell. Kate’s always identifying mystery odors in our house that I can’t detect. I feel as though I’ve started down the path toward Foul-Smelling Old Ladyhood, and there’s no turning back.
And via Gawker, this is pretty amazing, too. For those of you with powerful processors, I recommend Arcade Fire’s new video, which is interactive and Googlerific. Yes, by all means you should enter the address of your childhood home.
Errands! Editing! E-mail! I have an e-ticket to the grindstone.