Ignore the Man Screaming in Front of the CurtainPosted: June 10, 2012
Liberals are to blame for the success of right wing canards and screamers because they don’t elevate the conversation. They fixate on the bloviator.
Of course, not all right-wing pundits spew hate. But the ones who do are the ones we liberals dependably aggrandize. Consider the recent debate over whether employers must cover contraception in their health plans. The underlying question — should American women receive help in protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancies? — is part of a serious and necessary national conversation.
Any hope of that conversation happening was dashed the moment Rush Limbaugh began his attacks on Sandra Fluke, the young contraceptive advocate. The left took enormous pleasure in seeing Limbaugh pilloried. To what end, though? Industry experts noted that his ratings actually went up during the flap. In effect, the firestorm helped Limbaugh do his job, at least in the short term.
But the real problem isn’t Limbaugh. He’s just a businessman who is paid to reduce complex cultural issues to ad hominem assaults. The real problem is that liberals, both on an institutional and a personal level, have chosen to treat for-profit propaganda as news. In so doing, we have helped redefine liberalism as an essentially reactionary movement. Rather than initiating discussion, or advocating for more humane policy, we react to the most vile and nihilistic voices on the right.
Media outlets like MSNBC and The Huffington Post often justify their coverage of these voices by claiming to serve as watchdogs. It would be more accurate to think of them as de facto loudspeakers for conservative agitprop. The demagogues of the world, after all, derive power solely from their ability to provoke reaction. Those liberals (like me) who take the bait, are to blame for their outsize influence.
Okee dokee then.
This may be the single dumbest op-ed in the NY Times this year, which would be an accomplishment, given that Friedman, Brooks, Douthat, and Bruni all write there. Apparently Steve Almond thinks that if liberals would just ignore nasty old Republicans, then we’d have an amazingly civil public discourse and Fox news would shrivel up and die. The logic goes something like this:
1.) Ignore Mean Republicans
This is something like clap-for-Tinkerbelle in reverse. If we stop enabling righties by paying attention to them, they’ll go away.
I would like to say that I don’t feel personally victimized by escalating right-wing fanaticism. Most of the time I feel more like a helpless bystander watching barbarians sack my country.
WTF is wrong with you? We now have walking, talking, reproducing humanoids that think taking from the poor and giving to the rich solves all of our economic problems, that poor people deserve to starve and die from lack of insurance because there’s something morally wrong with them, a basically ineffective right of center president is a socialist, Kenyan Muslim who has spent us into no man’s land, Fox News is actually news and not just made up shit that rich Republicans want you to believe, and fertilized egg has more right to “life” than a woman or a man that’s been wrongly convicted of a crime or GLBT people. We’re supposed to ignore the propagandists and just spout platitudes about “big ideals”? Gimme a friggin; break and buy a clue, dude! We tried Air America. It bored every one. Eliot Spitzer got sent to out media land for having heady conversations. What planet is this?
That is all.