Chris Hedges lives in a magical world where Lee Atwater and Rush Limbaugh never existed

The naively empathetic Chris Hedges, writing about the poor, put-upon teabaggers and their childlike “yearning for fascism,” ends his recent article at Truthdig with this ‘graph:

Left unchecked, the hatred for radical Islam will transform itself into a hatred for Muslims. The hatred for undocumented workers will become a hatred for Mexicans and Central Americans. The hatred for those not defined by this largely white movement as American patriots will become a hatred for African-Americans. The hatred for liberals will morph into a hatred for all democratic institutions, from universities to government agencies to the press. Our continued impotence and cowardice, our refusal to articulate this anger and stand up in open defiance to the Democrats and the Republicans, will see us swept aside for an age of terror and blood.

Honestly, does Hedges believe that these “transformations” are impending? We’re already there. We’ve been there for a long time.  “The hatred for liberals will morph into a hatred for all democratic institutions, from universities to government agencies to the press.” I mean, yeah, how terrible would it be IF THAT EVER HAPPENED? Good christ, really?

I’ve been seeing this “we’ve gotta find common ground with the rightwing activists” bullshit bubbling up in the leftosphere for months now and it is maddeningly wrong-headed and an acute example of wishful thinking (and they claim the “Obama/liberal apologists” are the pony-wishers). The common notions being floated by Our Progressive Betters or the Firebaggers or the Tribal Thumpers (or whatever you want to call them) is that both of the parties are pretty much exactly the same (we must rise against them together!), Rachel Maddow is just as dangerous of a propagandist and as untruthful as Glenn Beck, and—here’s the best part—wingnuts/teabaggers will TOTALLY GET ON BOARD WITH TRUE BLUE PROGRESSIVES as soon as hardcore financial reform (a nationalized banking system?), a single payer healthcare system, and a massive stimulus package are all put into place.  Oh ... and pull the troops out of everywhere NOW. I’ll give you a few minutes to stop laughing your ass off about how the teabaggers would react to all of that by passing on an earlier passage from Hedge’s piece making essentially that case:

We are bound to a party that has betrayed every principle we claim to espouse, from universal health care to an end to our permanent war economy, to a demand for quality and affordable public education, to a concern for the jobs of the working class. And the hatred expressed within right-wing movements for the college-educated elite, who created or at least did nothing to halt the financial debacle, is not misplaced. Our educated elite, wallowing in self-righteousness, wasted its time in the boutique activism of political correctness as tens of millions of workers lost their jobs. The shouting of racist and bigoted words at black and gay members of Congress, the spitting on a black member of the House, the tossing of bricks through the windows of legislators’ offices, are part of the language of rebellion. It is as much a revolt against the educated elite as it is against the government. The blame lies with us. We created the monster.

You see how easy it is? If the college-educated, self-righteous “progressive” elitists had only forcefully pushed through every lefty agenda item that the illiterate wingnut hobo people HATE MORE THAN CANCER, AL-QAEDA and MICHAEL MOORE, the teabaggers wouldn’t be forced by the liberal creative class, who fucked up everythingby focusing on their “boutique activism of political correctness,” to run around calling people niggers and faggots (aka “the language of rebellion”).  It would totally work, man. They’d come around. And if we get it done soon enough (IT’S DOABLE! HOPE! CHANGE!) we could be looking at a David Sirota/Amy Goodman 3rd party ticket waltzing its way into the White House by as early as 2012.

Or you can be a realistic/pessimistic curmudgeon like me and realize that would never ever work in the immediate future (sorry, I hate Kool-Aid) and just point and laugh at the teabaggers for both strategic reasons and because, hell, it’s a lot of fun and they’re horrible, horrible people. Plus, ya know, judging from the tea party photos, time ain’t on their side, so I think the most sensible (and least aggravating) thing to do is just wait it out and support incremental policy changes (aka “SOCIALISM!”) in the leftward direction.

Legitimizing their “movement” in any way will only backfire and taking the blame for their propaganda-fueled outrage is the ultimate in self-defeating lefty squishiness. Count me out.

RELATED: I haven’t read Somerby in a while (because I finally learned to love myself) and, as you probably guessed, he’s still howling at parked cars over at that web site of his that used to feature lucid points about the media back when dinosaurs ruled the earth…

Yesterday, Digby praised [Frank] Rich’s wonderful thinking; she highlighted the very part of his column we ourselves found to be most pathetic. But matters of race drive white liberals mad. Every IQ point flies from their heads until they have suitably rendered.

I guess the same thing could be said of “matters of Clinton/Gore.” What a tool.

p.s Why is it that the most of the lefty bloggers who now openly mock the “liberal elitists” and “creative class” happen to be some of the most pretentious, stuck-up fuckers you can find anywhere on the web? If you airdropped a random sampling of them into a redneck bar in Alabama Connecticut they’d last all of a few minutes before they were reduced to savage piles of flesh, blood, and bones, but these are the folks snidely crowing about how they’ve got the angry commoners figured out. Yeah, right. Good luck with that.

Posted by Kevin K. on 03/30/10 at 10:20 AM • Permalink

Categories: PoliticsEditorialsNuttersTeabaggerySkull Hampers

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I think poor Mr. Hedges waded through naïveté and dove straight into delusional.

OMFG, wouldn’t it be tragic if racist, homophobic, xenophobic, elitist-hatin’ gun nuts ever took into their heads to question the legitimacy of a democratically elected government! And what, god forbid, if some irresponsible national political and media figures tried to take advantage of that! Unthinkable!

Yes, we can accomplish so much by making common cause with people who support torture, as long as it’s happening to evil brown-skinned people. 

They sure have interesting weather on Planet Poppup.

Chris is way too invested in shoehorning every moment of history into the one or two conceptual frames he’s constructed out of his experiences as a war correspondent.

The Tea Party movement isn’t a “Rose Revolution” or “Orange Revolution” of downtrodden proletarians asserting their ethnic sovereignty and throwing off the shackles of post-Cold War corruptocrat rule (with a BIG helping hand from the CIA). And it’s certainly not a peon-army of economically-displaced, financially-desperate citizens who want the government to do more to relieve their plight.

It is a movement of unrelievedly Liberal-hating folks who—now that the Libs are in power—have co-opted the more neutral language of “Intrusive Big Government” as a semantic trompe l’oeil to make themselves appear non-partisan, which is hooey. They say they want “less government,” when in fact they want “less Democrats”...but leave us the Social Security, Medicare, disability payments and Federal Highway System (so we can RV and Harley around in comfort) on your way out.

One could pick Hedge’s article apart all day, but I’ll go straight to the piece that says ‘NEVER MIND” in all caps, at least to me:

If we do not immediately reincorporate the unemployed and the poor back into the economy, giving them jobs and relief from crippling debt, then the nascent racism and violence that are leaping up around the edges of American society will become a full-blown conflagration.

That first part would be a helluva trick, Chris; and if the Federal Government were Mandrake the Magician, it would probably have done that on Day One. Maybe if the banks and the corporations and the “small-government” “Constitutionalist” Death-Panel freaks would back the fuck up and give it some room, it still might have a chance to pull it off. 

And “nascent racism and violence”? Did he actually say “nascent”? I think the proper word here is “embedded” or “institutional” or “perennial” or “congenital” of “massively latent.” Classic case of mistaking the cause for the effect.

Nice try, Chris, but a logic-build with this many holes in it needs more than two pages of backfill to cover the drain-work.

Why do I get the impression that he’s really hoping for bloody revolution, rubbing his hands with anticipation so he can watch from the sidelines and egg the rabble on.  Reminds me of the Joan Baez send-up song from Radio Dinner.  “Pull the triggers, n****rs, we’re with you all the way.  Just across the baaaaaayy.”

This has to be the most ridiculous pile of unicorn poo I’ve read in a while. That’s all that can be said.

You first, Chris! Get off the internet and into the street with your new “populist” besties! Let us knw how it goes when you start screaming for single payer—once your jaw heals.

Racists care less about what they have than what the darkies have. They are okay with having nothing as long as the “mud people” have LESS than nothing. Why else do poor whites continue to valorize the oligarchic Confederacy that shat all over them?

Why do these self-hating liberals feel the need to embrace the right’s pernicious anti-intellectualism? One would think a political movement should encourage the support of the “college-educated elite.” After eight years of GWB, we’re all too familiar with assholes who rely on “common sense” and their gut, instead of competence, experience, and book learnin’.

“Our educated elite…wasted its time in the boutique activism of political correctness” = Libs spent too much time worrying about the feelings of women, African Americans, and homosexuals, which caused lots of people to become reactionary racists. Bad libs!

Chris Hedges also believes that his parents found him as an infant in a cabbage patch. 

However, if the pernicious influence of our highly sexualized media continues unabated, he fears his parents may someday succumb to peer pressure and fornicate.

I somewhat expected the election of the first black president to unhinge the right—hell, anything not Republican unhinges the right, even a right-centrist southern white boy like Clinton.

But truly, I think what’s been surprising/amusing is the amount of racial animosity coming from White Boys Used to Telling Everyone Else What’s What When It Comes to Progressive Ideals. The “liberal elite” is fine with them when it’s largely dominated by the Chomskys and Howard Zinns of the world. But when black people start making policy and wielding real power, it drives a certain kind of self-regarding underachieving white Boomer male (*cough*ChicBob*cough!) around the bend. Such ingrates—doesn’t the world realize that it was White Boomer Hippies who got equal rights for chicks and blacks? Some of them even have some faggy friends!

@Oblomova: And let’s not forget the PUMAs, who of course, aren’t racist, but keep getting the vapors about Obama’s… uppitiness.  Doesn’t he know they’re special, special snowflakes?

Indeed, John. And just to spite them, every time they get close to saying “Told ya so!” on something (esp. healthcare), damned if he doesn’t turn around and deliver (well, he and Nancy Pelosi—and I think that burns the PUMAs, too, because they hate her for “throwing Hillary under the bus”).

And of course, HRC is apparently quite happy with what happened on HCR. Which also chaps the Pissy PUMA Pants brigade. How could their goddess betray them so?!?!?

Seriously—when was the last time we actually saw a Dem get some fucking points on the board in a serious way, in only a little over a year? What had Clinton done by this point in his first term? FDR and LBJ had some GOP support, which Obama hasn’t had.

Three explanations make sense to me for why Obama hasn’t gotten more credit for his very real successes:

1) Things were so fucked up that anything less than a complete transformation of the economy (nationalized banks, single-payer government healthcare, etc.) would be seen by the left as a capitulation to “corporate interests.”

2) Obama doesn’t think his first order of business should be avenging the ButtHurt Fee-Fees of Pwogwessives who took such abuse from the Mean Old Righties during the Bush years. In other words—he fights the battles he wants to fight the way he wants to fight them, not the ones that the leftiesphere tells him he SHOULD care about. (So getting uninsured people insured through expansion of Medicaid maybe is more important than the “public option” Bright Shiny Object). And he uses tactics that seem to work, rather than the “go down fighting the beautiful losing idealistic battle” strategy that, frankly, has turned me off from most leftie causes outside of feminist ones (where I’ve been lucky to be aligned with pragmatists who are community-based—i.e., not Triggerville denizens).

3) Do I even need to mention? He’s an “inadequate black male.” So even when he’s more than adequate, he’s inadequate. Because he’s blackity blackity black.

I’m dropping in a link to Al Giordano and not just because he schools Meatprod in the comments section. What he says is exactly what Chris Hedges doesn’t get and what he doesn’t do. If Hedges is indeed so sure that making common cause with the Tea Party is the way to go—then he should get on his shoes and start going to their protests and looking for that “community”—and I truly would like to hear what he finds out in his adventures.

Nattering on about “populist movements” while sitting at home alone on your computer is just a pseudo-intellectual’s way of jerking off to internet porn. Obama didn’t win because he won the netroots. He won because he used the internet to connect people on the ground.

Comment by Oblomova on 03/30/10 at 03:34 PM

Oblomova: Your comments are so good, they make me want to stop commenting on the damn internet!

Am I the only one who thought War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning kinda sucked? I mean, not sucked, more like stretched a really powerful couple of paragraphs to book-length. I guess I thought a real reporter would take a less polemical approach, but then, it was meant to be a polemic, so whatever. I should probably pick up I Don’t Believe in Atheists just to see if it’s as obnoxious as it sounds.

Oh, by the way, if you’ve really gotta go, do not get stuck behind Chris Hedges in line for the bathroom. Long story.

Never read War, Gil, but based on this interview, I’d have to say that I Don’t Believe in Atheists is MORE obnoxious than it sounds.

Yes, Mr. Hedges—atheists are just as bad as Christian fundies. Which is why you’re forever reading about atheist militias hiding out in the woods and planning to blow shit up.

Holy False Equivalency Fail, Batman!

Comment by Oblomova on 03/30/10 at 06:28 PM

You know—I’m going to take a break in the long line of Chris Hedges bashing—all of which he thoroughly deserves—to comment on his incredible “sympathy” for the Teabaggers.  You know, the fact that the average member of a reactionary mob is getting very worked up on the behalf of the people who are screwing them over is something people have known for a long time.  Look at Dylan’s Only a Pawn In Their Game, or the movie Z.  But most intelligent observers realize that these people are a lost cause for the moment—you’re not going to win them over any time soon.  They’ve bought into the myth that society is a zero-sum game, and that they’ve got to “protect” what’s theirs, that the idea that a situation is possible where they’ll be better off, along with just about everyone else—just isn’t going to penetrate.  Yes, it’s tragic, and it’s sad—but you can’t let it blind you to the simple fact that these people are dangerous, and they aren’t on your side

This isn’t simplistic—it isn’t dismissive.  It’s a statement of fact.  Yes, remember that they’re human beings.  But don’t forget that they’re human beings who hate you.

Yes, remember that they’re human beings.  But don’t forget that they’re human beings who hate you.

Bang Fecking On, John!

Never read War, Gil, but based on this interview, I’d have to say that I Don’t Believe in Atheists is MORE obnoxious than it sounds.

Wow, he comes off more obnoxious in that interview than he did in the article Kevin linked to.  Because a couple of people that he doesn’t like *cough*made him look bad in a debate*cough* are atheists and, apparently, war supporters, therefore they have spawned a whole neo-con atheist movement that will result in muslim Americans being slaughtered in the streets.

I like his calm, reasoned approach to the subjects that he tackles.

Mar, I kinda find it hard to believe that someone with his penchant for poorly reasoned snap judgments based on really tiny sample cores could have survived the rigors and chaos of a war zone.

Here’s a delightful bookend to Hedge’s article, which will amuse some folks here vastly more than others.

Jesus Christ, post-9/11 “They hate us for our freedoms so we must get rid of our freedoms!” in 2010?

Man this dude is s-l-o-w.

I dunno. I think he’s alarmist, but he’s analogizing from things he’s see happen.

What he’s missing is how fucking big this country is. I don’t think the radical right-wingers are going to have any success in taking over this country, any more than I think the scary Muslims are.

It’s just too fucking big.

I think we do have to engage with people who are in such dire straits that they’ve disenfranchised themselves, but I think he’s wrong on the scare tactics.

Obama didn’t win because he won the netroots. He won because he used the internet to connect people on the ground.

Absofuckinglutely!  People with any sense realize that, while chatting online about politics is fun, it doesn’t win elections.

I think we do have to engage with people who are in such dire straits that they’ve disenfranchised themselves

I don’t disagree with that at all. I just think folks like Hedges are delusional if they think throwing the progressive sink at the problem(s) will quell the anger.

Personally, I’d love it if they came up with a bigger and better stimulus package, but Hedges had better be prepared for the inevitable “terror and blood” if they do.

If Hedges, Hamsher, et al actually were “engaging with” the Tea Party folks, other than sitting on their Comfy Cossetted Asses of Privilege and lecturing to the rest of the blogosphere about how condescending we are to the Poor Populist Anger Bears, then I’d have more respect for them.

Again—show up at rallies, try talking to these people about single payer and bank nationalization, and let us know how that works out. If Hedges isn’t willing to get some actual skin in the game, he should STFU about “condescending.” Especially when he is essentially blaming black Congressmen who are spat upon for bringing it on themselves by exercising their legislative duties. The only “truth” he is digging looks and smells a lot like horseshit to me.

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