Isaac Asimov: “When Stupidity Is Considered Patriotism, It Is Unsafe To Be Intelligent”
That video above was a little too close for comfort for QAnon Thumb Marjorie Traitor Greene, who reacted very defensively on Twitter after Rachel Maddow’s show on Monday. Maddow wasn’t doing a segment on Traitor Smith, just on American Christian Nationalists/fascists and using Gerald L. K. Smith was probably more a slam on Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano than against the Q-Anon Thumb from backwoods north Georgia.
While Traitor Greene was asking around about Gerald L. K. Smith, Steve Bannon, on his insurrectionist podcast, was making a big mistake in the run-up to his sentencing hearing. He’s calling for “4,000 shock troops” to deconstruct the federal government “brick by brick… Suck on it. We’re destroying this illegitimate regime.”
Referring to the now famous Axios exposé about the Trumpist plans to dismantle democracy, his sidekick, Steve Cortes, noted, that “there is a plan in place. The second Trump term is going to be far more consequential than the first one…” Now that Ivanka and Jared have been banished, there is little doubt Bannon sees himself as Trump's horse whisperer. Hopefully, for America's sake, he'll be whispering from the other side of a cell wall.
And the person who explained all this best was Paul Krugman in his latest column about the myths driving the on-going red state insurrection against the U.S. It goes beyond the GOP acceptance of the Big Lie. He explained how “the Big Lie is embedded in an even bigger lie: the claim that the Democratic Party is controlled by radical leftists aiming to destroy America as we know it. And this lie in turn derives a lot of its persuasiveness from a grotesquely distorted view of what life is like in blue America.” His point was about the danger, cultivated by self-serving GOP politicians and media fascists from Fox to Bannon, of “right-wing misperceptions of blue America.” Not just misperceptions— misrepresentations by grievance-laden traitors, intellectually subpar, like Lauren Boebert, Gym Jordan, Paul Gosar, Traitor Greene, Madison Cawthorn, Mary Miller...
Let’s start with the politics. The other day the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel, reporting from the campaign trail, noted that many Republican candidates are claiming that Democrats are deliberately undermining the nation and promoting violence against their opponents; some are even claiming that we’re already in a civil war.
Some (many?) of these candidates have been winning primaries, suggesting that the GOP base agrees with them. Actually, I’d like to see some surveys along the lines of those showing that most Republicans accept the Big Lie. How many Republicans believe that President Biden and other leading Democrats are left-wing radicals, indeed Marxists?
Relatedly, I’d like to know how many Republicans believe that Black Lives Matter demonstrators looted and burned large parts of America’s major cities.
Now, the reality is that the modern Democratic Party is a mildly center-left coalition, consisting of what Europeans would call social democrats, and relatively conservative ones at that. To take one measure, I can’t think of any prominent Democrats— actually, any Democratic members of Congress— who have expressed admiration for any authoritarian foreign regime.
This is in contrast to widespread conservative admiration for Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who recently denounced other Europeans for “mixing with non-Europeans” and declared that he doesn’t want Hungary to become a “mixed-race” country.
On the domestic violence front, a study by the Anti-Defamation League found that 75 percent of extremist-related domestic killings from 2012 to 2021 were perpetrated by the right and only 4 percent by the left. [Remember what Gerald L.K. Smith in the Maddow tape had to say about the Anti-Defamation League during one of his racist ant-Semitic rants.]
Finally, about B.L.M.: The protests were, in fact, overwhelmingly peaceful. Yes, there was some arson and looting, with total property damage typically estimated at $1 billion to $2 billion. That may sound like a lot, but America is a big country, so it needs to be put in perspective.
Here’s one point of comparison. Back in April, Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, pulled a political stunt at the border with Mexico, temporarily imposing extra security checks that caused a major slowdown of traffic, disrupting business and leading to a lot of spoiled produce. Total economic losses have been estimated at around $4 billion; that is, a few days of border-security theater appear to have caused more economic damage than a hundred days of mass protests.
Yet pointing out these facts probably won’t change many minds. Nor does there seem to be any way to change the perception, also alluded to in that Post article, that a lax attitude toward law enforcement has turned America’s big cities into dangerous hellholes. It’s true that violent crime rose during the pandemic, but it rose about as much in rural America as it did in urban areas. And despite that recent rise, violence in many cities is far lower than it was not long ago.
In New York City, homicides so far this year are running a bit below their 2021 level, and in 2021 they were 78 percent lower than they were in 1990 and a quarter lower than they were in 2001. As Bloomberg’s Justin Fox has documented, New York is actually a lot safer than small-town America. Los Angeles has also seen a big long-term drop in homicides, as has California as a whole. Some cities, notably Philadelphia and Chicago, are back to or above early 1990s murder rates, but they’re not representative of the broader picture.
But who among the Republican base will acknowledge this reality? Whenever I mention New York’s relative safety, I get a wave of mail saying, in effect, “You can’t really believe that.”
The fact is that a large segment of the U.S. electorate has bought into an apocalyptic vision of America that bears no relationship to the reality of how the other half thinks, behaves or lives. We don’t have to speculate about whether this dystopian fantasy might lead to political violence and attempts to overthrow democracy; it already has. And it’s probably going to get worse.