The Delusions of the Last Rightwing Remnant: Freerepublic.com
Only a small minority in the United States maintains an unwavering faith in the administration of George W. Bush. Most of the country has finally discovered Bush and his ilk are liars, thieves, incompetent hacks, and mercenary madmen. Only a few true believers remain. These few are reflected in the unwavering statistical minority of 30%-33%, who still support Bush, and apparently will support Bush, no matter what he does. This remnant, or as Steven Colbert called them, "the backwash," will never sway. Like the Christian martyrs of old, they will go to their deaths swearing allegiance to their master. One might wonder who this faithful remnant is, and just where its members might be found. Well, a narrow and vociferous margin can be found screeching on Freerepublic.com. There, they are apparently alive, but judging from what they hold to be 'reality,' not so well.
On Freerepublic.com, we find those who still believe in the Bush agenda: the war, the insurgency, the domestic agenda, and yes, even in the reliability of the Bush propaganda machine. Here we find the few who find no irony in the language of the Bush regime. They see nothing ironic about the fact that the original name for the war in Iraq was Operation Iraqi Liberation, the acronym for which is O.I.L.--that is, before it was changed to cover up the inauspicious and inadvertent revelation of its true purpose. They see no irony in the idea of liberating a country from a dictator, and then using his former prisons to torture its citizens. They see no irony in calling the 'enemy' ruthless killers, even as they have bombed and ruthlessly killed many times more people than the enemy. They see no irony in trumpeting a war against terrorism, even as their state terrorism has precipitated a bloody civil war that has drastically added to terrorism's ranks. They see no irony in the fact that they no longer know who the enemy is, and instead hope to secure the enemy from the enemy's enemy. They see no irony in the administration's demands that Iran not "interfere" in the affairs of Iraq. They see no tragedy in the report that over 2 million former Iraqis are now refugees in nearby countries and another 2 million are now homeless inside Iraq. They see no irony in the fact that Bush now claims a need to stay in Iraq, lest it become the safe-haven for terrorism that he claimed it was before he attacked, but which it has only become since he attacked. They see no irony in decrying the supposedly undemocratic regimes in Venezuela and elsewhere, even as their own elections have been notoriously and egregiously flawed, indeed probably rigged, so much so that human rights watch groups would refuse to monitor them. They see no irony in their "pro-life" agenda, even as they kill tens of thousands of innocent, walking and talking children and adults. They see no irony in the fact that the latest media spokesman for the regime is named "Tony Snow," as if an admission that the message delivered will be part of a "Snow job."
No, their belief in Bush persists, despite so much evidence to contradict it. The supernatural basis of this faith is the key to its persistence. Like Panglossian believers against contrary evidence, they retain faith in a political ideology that they imagine to be flawless, regardless of its increasingly deleterious emanations. And what do they say to anyone, especially anyone with a message and the determination to voice it, who disagrees? Here, they do not act so much like the good-natured Pangloss.
For one, they attack the credibility of anyone who attacks their fearless leader. I myself have been a recent target of their vituperative denunciations, which, if they weren't so vitriolic and suggestive of violence, would be hilarious for their sheer boorishness and desperate flailing. They claim, erroneously, that I am not a real Ph.D., or that I am not a real professor of English. To prove this, they cite outdated documents showing me to be a Post-Doctoral fellow (which requires a Ph.D., incidentally), much like their leader's use of outdated intelligence in the run-up to war. Little do they know that I have moved on from Carnegie Mellon University, where I worked as an editor for the Robotics Institute and a Post-doctoral Fellow for the English Department, and now hold a tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor, somewhere in the Carolinas? I say "somewhere in the Carolinas," because the Freerepublic.com site is rife with criminally-minded cyber-thugs with the ethics of their leader. They are domestic terrorists who would stop at nothing to ruin the opposition. If it weren't for the fact that the government is being run by like-minded criminal thugs, their threats would surely lead to investigations. To date, I have received dozens of death threats and other cowardly missives of warning. My previous address has been published, as has a list of my referees. Their tactics are infamous and their ethics deplorable. And they call me the fascist.
Meanwhile, I argued that for reasons that have become apparent, contemporary Republicanism is now a dangerous ideology that threatens the well-being of the planet. In this sense, I compared it to other dangerous political ideologies that should not be sanctioned under the liberal terms of 'tolerance,' such as Nazism and the white supremacist KKK. I cited the well-known Frankfurt School theorist, Herbert Marcuse, in support of my point. A poster on Freerepublic.com suggested that I'd never read the essay by Marcuse, or Marcuse's other writings, at all. That would be anomalous, since I studied the Frankfurt School in great depth in graduate school, received an A in seminars, and included the Frankfurt School on my Ph.D. thesis exam. I also suggested that Bush and Cheney and other operatives in the war, as war criminals, belong in jail. Two days after I made this statement, an official of the International Criminal Court declared that he could envisage circumstances under which Blair and Bush could be brought before the court and tried for the coalition war crimes in Iraq. The email replies from "freepers" included attacks for my lack of concern over national sovereignty. To this charge, I plead guilty; national sovereignty should never be used to protect convicted or convictable war criminals. (Yes, my use of the semi-colon is proper here, as before.) Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. I do not respect its protection of the scoundrel, nor do I share the fanatical freeper concern about the black helicopters and the "evil" U.N. (Many months ago, I suggested on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" that Bush's reason for eschewing the ICC was indeed because he knew that he could later be convicted for war crimes that he was soon about to commit).
After the publication of my "10-Points" article, freepers (irrelevantly) questioned my sexual preferences ("I bet this guy is gay"), attacked my grammar (especially ironic coming from the 'is-my-children-learning' rightwing), and raised doubts (in their minds) about my academic credentials. My fathering of three children and living with a beautiful dancer and choreographer (a woman) should put the questions about my sexual preferences to rest, as if such preferences mattered. Apparently they do to the freepers. Sorry, boys. Incidentally, these doubts were raised in connection to my teaching of 'feminism,' which these boors equate with femininity. They assume that anyone who studies feminism is either lesbian or gay. I suppose that all the first-wave suffragettes were lesbians as well. If so, the women amongst their contingent owe a great debt to lesbianism.
As to my academic credentials, earning a Ph.D. from a top twenty-five-ranked, internationally renowned university apparently disqualifies me for the freepers. Writing and publishing dozens of articles for the Robotics Institute's Artificial Intelligence Lab also somehow disqualifies me in their minds. Some have even likened Robotics itself to idiocy. Meanwhile, I would take the artificial intelligence of software robots to the so-called natural intelligence of the freeper, any day. Freepers prefer anything to education, especially Liberal Arts and Humanities education. When they hear the word "culture," they reach for their guns. Sound familiar? They attack anyone who can claim credentials beyond huckstering corporate garbage. It is not an accident that "liberal" and "education" are often juxtaposed.
The freepers suggest that in a subsequent Rec Report, I have 'backtracked' from my original "10-Point Plan," because I am afraid that my having written it will somehow disqualify me from getting tenure. This charge is actually charmingly naïve. But, I should like to educate the Busheviks about something called "academic freedom," which, unlike the freedumb (freedom to be dumb) avowed on Freerepublic.com, actually allows one to have a reasoned opinion that differs from that of the king-and-priest mob that stones dissenters. The reactionary mob has always been uneducated. This same kind of mob, incited by his sympathy for the French Revolution, burned down the house of English chemist and thinker, Joseph Priestly. This kind of mob included spies for the forces of oppression in England and elsewhere, finding "infidels," "traitors" and "blasphemers" under every rock in the early 19th century. This same kind of mob has always opposed those who challenge the dominance of the few. This kind of mob has always been for reforms that have favored themselves-only if said reforms happened sometime in the past. This cowardly kind of mob reveres power and loathes future reform or change. They respond to contemporary 'radicals' as if they were devils, and meanwhile benefit from past radicals. This same kind of mob would have supported another idiot king named "George" against the revolutionary forces. In short, this same kind of mob has always worked against the best self-interests of its own individual members.
This same mob is a dangerous cabal with members that include dangerous, prominent politicians. I maintain that today, with critical worldwide issues at stake, their ideology is a serious bane to society and is prejudicial to the interests of a vast planetary majority. When I said that Republicans should be 'thrown in jail,' I referred only to those convicted of actual crimes. The fear on their part is that many are guilty. This includes Bush and Cheney, for starters, but also any other officials knowingly complicit in war crimes and other offenses, such as outing an undercover CIA agent. As for the low-level mobsters on Freerepublic.com, many should be tracked down by the police for any harassment, threats or actions taken to destroy others. They have proven my point every day since the 10-point plan was posted.
Rec, The Rec Report
Michael D. Rectenwald, Ph.D.
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