Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning
On Sunday, Brad Friedman posted a "Toon of the moment" in which a hypnotist sits dangling a watch in front of two stupified voters as Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) look on. The hypnotist tells the voters:
You know nothing. You remember nothing. You don't remember George W. Bush or how badly he screwed things up. You love Republicans. They are here to help you. You will welcome them back...
Replace the hypnotist and watch with "illegal immigrants" or a "Ground Zero Mosque" (what the Los Angeles Times' Tim Rutten refers to as a "rising tide of Nativism") and the cartoon would be equally spot on, though this form of hypnosis is utilized by the billionaire-funded hard-right not only to "forget" the disaster that was the Bush/Cheney cabal but to avoid a debate on the Republicans' cold and heartless, class-based decisions to oppose an extension of unemployment benefits, to block funds for state governments intended to prevent a layoff of thousands of teachers, to block vital environmental legislation, to engage in never-ending privatization schemes, which by design are intended to destroy government's ability to provide vital public services (police, fire, health care, education), and to repeatedly level false charges of insolvency as part of their scheme to permit the thieves of Wall Street to raid the Social Security trust fund.
Those who are rational and see the mosque as an issue of First Amendment religious freedoms (and common sense) fail to appreciate the visceral appeal of Republican race-baiting, which, in the case of the mosque, seeks to tap into a deep-seated, cultural anxiety that has been created not only by 9/11 but --- as I explained in "Hate Speech and the Process of Dehumanization" here at The BRAD BLOG, and in its follow-up --- by the vilification of Arabs and Muslims in books, films and on television over a span of decades. It was this same deep-seated and subconscious loathing which permitted the Bush/Cheney cabal to conflate Saddam Hussein --- just another swarthy, mid-Eastern bad guy --- with al Qaeda for the purpose of invading Iraq.
The politics of Republican fear-mongering and race-baiting exploits cultural dehumanization so as to conflate all Muslims with 9/11. The result is a perversion of that seminal event --- which, even under the Bush/Cheney Administration's own "official theory," entailed only al Qaeda --- into an unprovoked assault by the Muslim world on "Christian America."
"You know nothing. You remember nothing. You don't remember George W. Bush or how badly he screwed things up. You love Republicans. They are here to help you. You will welcome them back..."
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