Saturday, October 18, 2008

There's a rather astonishing video on Huffington Post of Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann equating liberalism with anti-Americanism and calling for an investigation of which members of congress are anti-American.

It's curious what she asks for is a media investigation instead of a congressional or independent council investigation. If members of congress are traitors, doesn't that require something a little more serious than an "expose"? Similarly, the robocalls from the RNC mentioned in the clip that accuse Obama and Democrats of being linked to terrorists concludes he therefore lacks the judgement to lead the country. I guess it's sort of like saying Adolph Hitler should not be in charge of the FDA.

I'm not sure the people levelling these claims realise how ridiculous they are. I think they figure telling people how bad they think Obama actually is won't make enough of an impression, so they finish the equation for us, giving us the result of where they think liberal philosophies will take us. They continually try to establish a significant tie between Obama and Bill Ayers, a former member of a terrorist group called Weatherman, suggesting Obama's in the habit of "palling around" with Ayers and that Ayers is unrepentant.

Yet, Ayers has not attempted terrorist activities since Weatherman was active in the late 60s and early 70s. I looked at Bill Ayers' blog to-day, and I was struck most by how unremarkable his political views seem to be. Not an unlikely character to serve on the board of an anti-poverty group. The rightwing line is that Ayers is unrepentant, but unrepentant about what, exactly?

We were very careful from the moment of the townhouse on to be sure we weren't going to hurt anybody, and we never did hurt anybody. Whenever we put a bomb in a public space, we had figured out all kinds of ways to put checks and balances on the thing and also to get people away from it, and we were remarkably successful. - Bill Ayers

The townhouse incident he refers to was The Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, where three members of Weather Underground were killed when a bomb went off prematurely. Apparently they were planning on taking human lives, but the actions of the group after the incident clearly indicates they later decided against this tactic. Ayers insists he's not a terrorist, and decries al-Qaeda's attacks on 9/11, but if one defines terrorism as actions designed to inspire terror to produce desired effects, I think even the Weatherman bombs that did not take life could be seen as acts of terrorism.

But Ayers refers to the United States' actions in Vietam as terrorism, which, considering they were designed to scare the world away from Communism, they in part were.

So when Michelle Bachmann is talking about Obama's anti-Americanism, and Ayers' unrepentance, it seems more likely that, fundamentally, she's referring to Obama's position on the Iraq war and the Bush Doctrine. How different is Bachmann, Palin, McCain, and most of the Republican Party from the Weather Underground? The Weather Underground's professed motives were to stop the war in Vietnam, and members talked of being enraged by the deaths of thousands people in Vietnam. If they'd been thinking rationally, they'd have seen their actions would not have ended the Vietnam War and in fact would likely intensify the vehemence of their opponents. But it's understandable why someone would feel angry and helpless while thousands are being murdered, and wanting to take some kind of drastic action to stop it. Sometimes, I think, fear of the dark parts of ourselves gets confused with the fear of What Has to Be Done.

To-day's Republican Party is afraid of losing power, of anti-war philosophy being legitimised by a popular vote. They're afraid of "aliens" because they see cultural and biological differences as inevitable threats to safety. This is why conservatives are such big proponents of "states rights"--they don't want Massachusetts' liberal civil rights infecting other parts of the country. They know these views will not be accepted, so they present only what they see as the logical answer to the equation--destruction. In the process solidifying their own delusions.

I'm a liberal, and I have a lot of liberal friends, and when I hear one of them talk about how they hate America, I know they're talking about prevalent fears and policies in America aimed against innocent people. But unfortunately, simply saying things like "I hate America" tends to make the Michelle Bachmann's sound a little less crazy to the otherwise uninformed. This adds fuel to the truly scary people showing up at McCain rallies. In the absence of a better educational system and promotion of it in this country, we have to be very careful these days of running afoul of the stoked delusions of others.

Of course, for a better educational system, we'd need what the right wing refers to as a "big government" . . .

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