Thursday, September 19, 2013

Williams: Buying the packaging

Buz signals the absurdity of today's column with a lead sentence that would be right at home in The Onion: "Some have criticized our Constitution as obsolete and racist, claiming it was written over two centuries ago by white slaveholders." I don't expect that he really doesn't know these are facts, rather that he just doesn't have the communication skills to understand what he's writing. But this goof clearly illustrates how confused many Americans are by right-wing propaganda.

Sorting through the chaff, his main point is his assertion that "conservatives" are victims of a government and a wider culture that does not value the freedoms afforded in the Constitution. He sees himself, in tricorn hat and wrapped in a flag, pitted against the Evil Ones who would send him into the gulag for defending his gad-given principles.

Never mind that all three examples of contemporary abuses he cites were built and run by his own team.

He can't see this because he puts all his attention on the packaging, trusting that what's inside is just as attractive. This "god and country" bait-and-switch has enthralled, used, ruined, maimed and murdered sincere, blinkered patriots like Buz by the thousand and their selected victims by the million for centuries. It may be the oldest trick in the propaganda book. Nixon used it. Joe McCarthy used it. The Klan still uses it. And of course it's the primary extremist-Republican tactic today.

Rather than using the flag-as-robe test to define a patriot, Buz would do well to set the bar a little higher. A patriot who respects and embraces the core principles of this country vigorously defends the right of every citizen to vote freely and be treated equally under the law, rather than hide behind invented problems to conceal unhinged prejudices and fears. If you really care about the threat of the surveillance state, declare that you want it demolished along with the fear-mongering security state you cheered for in 2002, since they're part and parcel. If you really revere the flag, bear in mind that it's a symbol for a people, and not just the ones who look, act and think like you do.

If you care about extremist ideology, look to yourself first, it's right there under the feel-good trappings you love to love, Buz. And if you want to understand something you're reading, try taking your hand off the paranoid-victim throttle and pay attention. You're making a fool of yourself otherwise.