Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Words of Republicans

I came across a good interview and discussion of a new book, Take Them at Their Words: Startling Quotations from the G.O.P., Their Friends and a Few Others, 1994-2004 edited by Bruce J. Miller and Diana Maio. I found the interview on Working for Change. It was conducted by BuzzFlash with Bruce J Miller. In the book you can find such gems as Barbara Bush on Good Morning America: "Why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many...It's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" And this from her equally compassionate son to the Palestinian Prime Minister: "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you can help me, I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them." Funny? Yes. Scary? Definitely. Here's an excerpt from the interview:

BuzzFlash: There does seem to be something implicit on the part of the right wing that if you don't agree with them -- particularly if you're a Democrat, or if you embrace a secular society -- you're an agent of Satan. In essence, that's what causes all these extreme quotes to be articulated, because the enemy within is something evil. It's evil to be inclusive. It's evil to believe women have equal rights. It's evil to believe that we are one community and we should be helping each other as a nation. ...Otherwise, there's really no other way to account for this, because they are basically in the league of the witch burners.... Bruce J. Miller: My own feeling is that it's fueled by a relatively small number of people with huge amounts of money, who don't want to pay any taxes at all and resent any shred of democracy that we actually have. They fund all these right-wing groups, and they have a tremendous effect with their efforts. I think that's a big part of it.
I have heard bits of analysis of the religious and moral language the right uses that BuzzFlash and Miller touch on here. Most recently in the George Lakoff article on same-sex marriage. We heard a lot of the with-us-or-against-us rhetoric right after 9-11. If you dared to question the government then you were not patriotic and therefore unAmerican. Can you say falling back on the slippery slope of McCarthyism? But don't let all this get you down:
BuzzFlash: When a person finishes reading this, do you think they're going to be depressed, outraged? What are they going to come away from this thinking? Bruce J. Miller: I hope they'll be a little bit surprised, taken aback, maybe entertained along the way. But I would hope that ultimately they'll say, "We've really got to take them seriously." We've got to participate. I'm not saying they should spend all their time on politics, but just to do a little something -- maybe call a sponsor of a show, or complain to, say, MSNBC that they only have right-wing hosts. Just a little something more than they were doing before -- maybe even to show the book to people that don't even know this is going on.
In other words, we have to start believing the babbling idiots mean what they say. I get chills down my spine just thinking about it. I think Miller is right though, we've got to participate. That is the point of a Democracy afterall.