1 April 2009
To Hate All but the Right Folks Is an Old Established Rule
Years ago, a friend of mine used to regularly listen to right-wing talk radio. (I imagine that he still does.) I was often a passenger in his car, and there usually had to listen to this programming as well. What I heard drove me up a wall. These commentators didn't usually target people with whose views I agreed, but they routinely misrepresented the arguments that were used by their opponents, made ridiculous universalizations or near-universalizations about the motivations of these opponents, and pretended that the only alternatives to the views of the political left were those of the political right. And the abiding emotion was hate.
For the past few days, I have been visiting my parents. Nearly every evening, they watch MSNBC, and I catch some of it whenever I visit them. What I hear drives me up a wall. The commentators of MSNBC don't usually target people with whose views I agree, but they routinely misrepresent the arguments that have been used by their opponents, make ridiculous universalizations or near-universalizations about the motivations of these opponents, and pretend that the only alternative to the views of the political right are those of the political left. And the abiding emotion is hate.
For example, during this latest visit, I heard Rachel Maddow mocking William Kristol as ostensibly claiming a few weeks into the invasion of Iraq that the war was won, when what Kristol had actually said was that every battle had been decisively won. Were I now to claim that, a few weeks into the American Civil War, every battle had been decisively won by the Confederacy, I would plainly not be claiming that the Confederacy had won the war.
(Maddow was more generally concerned to pretend that the neoconservatives were trying to reposition and to repackage themselves as supporters of the war policy of the Obama Administration. The truth is that, in actual practice, this policy far more closely resembles that of the later Bush Administration than it does the policy described during the Obama candidacy. The neoconservatives, then, don't have to reposition much, though they plainly need to repackage if they are to regain active influence, since their persons and past organizations are anathematized.)
On top of being bothered by all this hate and misrepresentation in-and-of-itself, I am bothered that my father seems to be at least amused by this rubbish, and that my mother sort-of waves-away the fact that there's a stream of misrepresentation, and refuses to acknowledge that the hate is on a par with that of right-wing talk radio.
I end-up closing myself into the principal guest room, away from the television but also then away from my parents.
Amendment (2009:04/10): My father stated, last night, that while my mother likes Rachel Maddow, he finds Maddow unpleasant. Now, if only he would reject some of the other folk on MSNBC.