Dangerous Voices

I usually reserve my most fervent enthusiasm for my special causes, like Mozart and Wagner and Thomas Wolfe, but in this case I must make an exception and wax poetic, for the third time, about a blog.

I refer of course to the latest addition, part 10 of Orcinus’ magnificent analysis of how the Far Right gets its messages implanted into the Mainstream Conservative psyche. This time the focus is on the quintessential “transmitter” Rush Limbaugh.

This is a subject close to my heart. For years, as a former journalist and student of the media, I have been examining the Rush phenomenon with fascination and amazement. In 1994, I had a lengthy essay printed in an Arizona newspaper on the insidiousness and willful truth distortions of Rush Limbaugh. (It was so heartfelt that the paper called and asked if I wanted to write a periodic column.)

Ever rational and calm, Orcinus describes how back in 1996 he was “trying to get a handle on the seething, venomous hatred of the government that was seeping out in the bile of movements like the Freemen, but was much, much more widespread.”

Later, while listening to a Rush rant, Orcinus experiences an epiphinous moment:

Suddenly I had a very clear picture about how hatred of the government had reached such illogical and hysterical heights. Americans were being told, relentlessly and repeatedly, that not only was government a bad thing, it was inherently evil, indeed conspiring to take away their freedom and enslave them. The person telling them this was a mainstream conservative. And he was giving them essentially the very same message being spread by the Freemen and militias, but this time with the mantle of mainstream legitimacy. Rush was essentially taking people up to the edge of Patriot beliefs and introducing his listeners to them..

I, too, believe that this conditioning, this presenting as a mainstream Truth the concept that the Government is a wicked enemy upon whose visit you should “aim for the head” — this helped to create the now commonplace hatred once confined only to the most far-right fringes. It is important that people understand this — that this clownish “entertainer” is nothing to laugh about.

I will never forget how Rush would refer to “bureaucrats” as though they were a form of bacteria, a worm that was somehow rotting our great nation from the inside out. Well, on that fateful day, in Oklahoma City, we all got to see those “bureaucrats,” many of them torn limb from limb, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and friends and neighbors.

After quoting Rush at his most noxious, Orcinus concludes:

This is extremely dangerous talk, and not merely because it is divisive. It actually threatens to simultaneously harden the growing alliance between extremist and mainstream conservatives, and create a milieu in which violence against dissenters becomes acceptable. As I’ve been discussing, it is when we see this kind of coalescence that we are in real danger of seeing fascism blossom in America.

Again, if you haven’t been to Orcinus’ site yet, please make the visit.

I just moved him to the top of my Best Blogs list, above Andrew Sullivan.

[Edited Wednesday, March 12 at 7:35 a.m. CST]

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