“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Friday, January 02, 2009

Quantum of Intelligence

In this second adventure into why stupid people believe stupid things it seems fitting to return to the Filbert Islands, land of the fantastical fatu-liva bird and its fabulous square eggs, and refer to the discoverer of the islands, the leader of the Kawa Expedition, Captain Walter E. Traprock himself. In his interview with the New York Times published on August 21, 1921 he described some of his previous travels and published works, including “Around Russia on Roller Skates”, and some of his Filbert Island discoveries, including, of course, the “unforgettable” cry of the fatu-liva bird as it lays its square eggs. That he was a fictional character and the interview an obvious send-up was apparently lost on most.

We should therefore keep Captain Traprock (think about it) and his “experiences” in mind as we examine a letter to the Amarillo Globe-News. As will become clear, the Kawa Expedition seems most suited to this investigation, particularly in view of what has become known, in the Captain’s own inimitable style, as Traprock’s Conundrum: when is a thing, though it be called a thing, not a thing?

First, a preamble. At the risk of rattling the inhabitants of the Amarillo Globe-News chat cage and drawing even more trolls to this tranquil idyll of Panhandle Truth Squad (blogspot.com), this writer will make some observations on a letter that appeared last Friday and the responses to it by said chat cage inhabitants. That said, who are we kidding? Confined to their pitifully circumscribed little world they’re certain to have never heard of Panhandle Truth Squad, and judging by how intellectually feeble many of them are they would have to be led by their snotty little noses just to get here. Not that that is being suggested. Far be it from this author to have innocent little conservative baby seals led from their snug little cage over to Panhandle Truth Squad where, snapping their sharp little teeth and yelping their nasty little words against us affable liberals, they’d be clubbed without mercy by yours truly. No.

Now to the
letter in question, it was from a Mr. Billy Glenn of Lubbock (Lubbock apparently having no newspapers of its own), who fretted that America is now like Germany’s Weimar Republic, crushed by debt and “excessive government spending,” rampant inflation and government bail outs and stimulus money. Despite the partly faux parallels he asks “Do we have to repeat history?” implying there is a Hitler in our future.

The chat cage denizens are able enough to pick up on the clue. Barack Obama is the fascist who will repeat history. So according to arch-conservatives Obama, besides being a communist, is also a Nazi. Then things get bizarre.

According to Right-Wing-Nut #1 Franklin Delano Roosevelt, no friend of conservatives, is Obama’s hero and a fascist worse than Mussolini. Yet according to Right-Wing-Nut #2, who thinks liberals misuse the word, “the term fits no American president especially George W. Bush who has been accused of being fascist for the past 8 years.” Since #1 and #2 do not believe they are contradicting each other either FDR was not an American president or Right-Wing-Nut #1 is a liberal. The latter is highly unlikely.

Further, Right-Wing-Nut #2 observes “the truth to [sic] the matter is that fascism is the domain of the left.” That will be news to political historians, who wouldn’t classify Hitler and Mussolini as “left wing fascist dictators.” As additional evidence that Right-Wing-Nut #2 is muddling the political spectrum he adds totalitarian communists to his list, including Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, which are legitimately on the left – but not fascist.

Right-Wing-Nut #2 then issues a challenge: find a right-wing fascist. He doesn’t think it will be easy. This is the danger of a little knowledge reducing complexity to the overly simplified and thinking you know everything. Answer (without resorting to Hitler or Mussolini): Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Now things get even more bizarre.

Right-Wing-Nut #3 believes FDR began our decline into socialism and that we are “sinking even lower into National Socialism,” that is Nazism. He gives a brief synopsis of the origin and ideology of Nazism which, ironically, is flatly contrary to current reality:

“It rejected liberalism, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, stressing instead the subordination of the individual to the state and the necessity of strict obedience to leaders. It emphasized the inequality of individuals . . . and the right of the strong to rule the weak.”

Remember, this is an accusation being made against liberals, that liberals are currently rejecting liberalism, democracy, the rule of law, etc. With all due respect, which is very little now, if Right-Wing-Nut #3 was referring to the Bush regime he’d be on to something, but that would contradict himself and Right-Wing-Nut #2’s belief that Bush does not deserve to be called a fascist (not killing anyone for throwing shoes is offered as proof, but those in rendition and denied trial have yet to respond). And we already know Right-Wing-Nut #2 has contradicted Right-Wing-Nut #1 (or vice versa, it’s hard to keep the nit-wits straight sometimes). And these are the huckleberries that claim liberals make “themselves look like idiots by incorrectly throwing around the term fascist”? Idiots indeed.

All this prattling is, of course, not an attempt to define fascism as they make out but to make it imprecise enough to smear liberals in general and Obama in particular, with no connection to any real evidence to support such accusations. Not only do we not have fake square eggs, we don’t even have the photograph, yet these loonies are going to believe a thing must be a thing because they call it a thing. Stupid fascists.