Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What a boring place the world might be...

..if it were not for people like these.

I do not know what it is about human nature but there is obviously something in the human genome that gives rise to extremists; whether they be Muslim or Christian, be white or black, sane or not.

I came across the Pink Rabbit — oh, sorry Crusader Rabbit by chance — following other people’s links is always such good fun. So too is the practice of trolling — to which I will here confess being the occasional practitioner. It has the same kind of vicarious pleasure as stirring wasp nests, or teasing pitbull terriers. It can be “dangerous”, as I found out with the neocon outfit a few years back. It can also be good bloody fun.

The best of it is that it is interesting; from the aspect of how such people — the ones I have termed “right-whingers” at times in the past — react to disagreement. But I will leave that for the moment.

These people, and I used the word “extremists” earlier for that is what they are, have a number of easily identifiable characteristics.

The first, and one of the less obvious, is that they all profess to being Christian. Some write of events (those which might add to and satisfy their confirmation bias) at their Sunday church observances giving those speeches a satisfying political twist. I am not Christian, a fact I make no secret of at all. Regrettably, that also means that I do not have the knowledge to effectively debate the relationship between their beliefs and their actions. Pity, but there it is.

The second, and most apparent, is their unbending belief that the United States of America is God’s Kingdom on Earth. Well mebbe not in so many words as one of the endless complaints from this group centres on how one kind of politics is destroying “the country” (“the country” applies whether or not they actually live there) whereas the other kind (the right ones) are God’s Representatives to mankind. Of course, when the right ones are in power, they are not always right enough for the liking of those who follow this path.

Their third attribute follows quite logically from there. God’s greatest gift to mankind is the Second Amendment. Oh, come on! You should know that the whole “raison d’etre” for God, for the country, for the Constitution, is the right to keep and bear arms. I am not going to even try to debate all of the rationalities that surround this particular belief; they range from “defending myself from my own government” to “look what Hitler did after he disarmed the Jews”. This is all, quite obviously, a very rational argument. It is based on fact; the fact that “the government” irrespective of name or colour is socialist at best if not totally communist; the fact that Islam is on an openly professed mission to rule the world; the fact that Hitler tried to wipe out all Jews (though they ignore that he did away with a lot of other people as well)...

There are a number of identifiers which fight for the next place in this list. I think that I would have to make a “very short nose” judgement in favour of “politic”. It is already apparent that the very far end of the right wing is where this starts. The non sequitur of associated colour passes them by entirely. In the US the colour identifier seems to be red. Why this should be so is a complete mystery. In Britain, the right wing takes the colour blue, whether from or giving rise to the association with “blue-blood” I do not know. The non sequitur should be eye-smackingly obvious; it is also the colour of communism. But there y’go. Perhaps while I am thinking about colours, my attribution of “galah” as nom de pied for my favourite aussie right-whinger is getting more appropriate. Quite apart from the natural associations with the bird and its habits its faded pink colour would seem to fit as well.

The short nose lead given to politic fits with the next identifier as it is brother close. If you follow the politic then there are a range of interpreters - Priests, Rabbis, or Imams if you will - that are needed to ensure the continuing purity of the religion. Oh, did I just say that their politic was a religion? Oh, sorry! That was inadvertent, if appropriate. Leader of these Priests is a Pope-like person who inhabits the airways courtesy of Fox by name of Rush Limbaugh. My personal opinion of radio/tv political commentators is no secret whether they are named Limbaugh, Hannity, Malkin or Laws. The fact is that there are people who actually believe these commentators (“common-taters” anyone?). So when Limbaugh starts preaching the Second Amendment, all of the old tired and tread-less clichés start re-appearing through the blogiverse. You know the kind of thing; from doing away with the Second Amendment, to taking our arms off us... A picture springs to mind at this point which would have this page banned in an instant were I to describe it in detail. Male readers, use your imagination on what might come from being armless and full of testosterone... Suffice to say that if Dr Billy Graham had had the approach of the current proselytisers and acolytes the world would certainly be a different place today.

It is only another short nose from there to the next attribute. I had thought that this might rank a lot higher, but I decided after reflection that it is a consequential rather than leading trait. That previous sentence has two clues — “thought” and “reflection”. In the universe of the uber-right and the associated religions there are no such ideas. This follows very logically from the need for the Intermediary Class of religious officers. I think it was Limbaugh (or Hannity?) who coined the term “sheeple”; I have neither time nor inclination to find out. The devotees of this religion miss the point entirely. “Sheeple” are those who follow mindlessly, without thought, without critical examination. How right that is! (Pune intended!)

I made reference earlier to the fact that the Second Amendment being given by God. It has to be said in fairness that He also passed other Rights on to us poor undeserving souls. So it is that (unlike those who do not believe in the right-wingers God) we have such inalienable rights as Freedom of Speech, ownership of property, and the right to pursue a life of happiness. Well, Bhutan tried that last one and the country now is totally broke. Spain and Greece as well seem to be following the same path until recently. But levity aside, the right to freedom of speech is important. It ranks higher than gun ownership in my mind, but that is just the opinion of an aging ex-socialist. What is fascinating is the importance attributed to Freedom of Speech by the right-whinger. I can agree with that. I support all of their arguments in favour of it being so. The difference lies not so much in the freedom to agree, as it does in the freedom to DISagree; to disagree with the uber-right religion is treason most foul.

The same kind of debate arises over property rights. My first contact with this in the American sense came out of the arguments over “eminent domain” and the misuse and abuse of the power in America. Again, the detail does not need to be debated but I was left with the strong feeling that “property in my hands is ok, property in anyone else’s hands is not ok”. Perhaps there is a rider needed “unless he is a mate of mine”. Do not take me the wrong way. Some of the abuses of eminent domain in the US smacked of the worst kinds of nepotism and corruption you can imagine. Our over-regulated and granny-state of NZ has rules about things like that which in theory at least tend to counter the possibilities.

I must say that some of those “right-whingers” I have met through the ‘net have been good, forthright and honest sounding people. Like so many other things, there is a continuum rather than narrow groupings. So individuals might rank themselves as “unter”, “innerhalb” or “uber” as they desire. Up to you, just for so long as you think openly, objectively and honestly. (yes there is an alliteration there — the “h” is silent).