One of the silliest aspects of the Tea-Bagging-Town Maul spectacles last August was the widespread proclamation by conservatives that they are carrying on the movement of Saul Alinsky. While it was (and still is) laughable that people fighting on behalf on privilege and concentration of power could in any way lay claim to Alinsky’s legacy, it’s instructive to note just how delusional conservatives have allowed themselves to become.
For example, the anti-ACORN agit-prop activist James O’Keefe, arrested this week with three others in New Orleans for allegedly trying to bug the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, was a main proponent of this nonsense.
James O’Keefe, the activist and filmmaker who posed as a pimp for an expose of several ACORN offices in the Northeast, told the New York Post earlier this week] that he, too, had been inspired by “Rules for Radicals,” which includes such tactical lessons as “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon” and “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.”
O’Keefe told the paper he was trying to expose the “absurdities of the enemy by employing their own rules and language.”
“If you can make impossible demands on your enemy, you can destroy them,” he said.
Yeah, ridicule is indeed a potent weapon, as O’Keefe and his little band of modern-day Plumbers are about to find out.
O’Keefe has his actual roots, not in community organizing, but in the wingnut welfare system that sponsors far right “alternative” college newspapers, and it appears a couple of his fellow travelers do as well. Check out TPMMuckraker for more on that.
O’Keefe had his moment of glory, and became a hero to conservatives, because his clearly deceptive and unethical assault on ACORN was pushed into the broader media environment by Fox Noise. But this is not knew, and conservatives rarely pay much of a price for their egregious statements and actions, and in fact one can argue it only endears them to their supporters.
The problem for the rest of society is the conservative agit-prop artists become steadily more outrageous and egregious. Because the legacy media has become accustomed to right wing demagoguery, it seems to barely register when someone on the right jokes about kidnapping and torturing the Speaker of the House. Ha. Ha, whatever. Nobody would really go kill a doctor Nancy Pelosi, don’t be silly.
As progressives have known for a long time, the mind-set of many conservatives is basically akin to that of criminals who justify their wrong actions through excuse-making and an unjustified sense of victimhood. In this parallel universe, fostered, nurtured and encouraged by the broad array of stink tanks, news outlets and operatives now known as the Noise Machine, wrong actions against perceived enemies are justified because the very existence of the country is at stake. Never mind the law, never mind the truth, never mind what a democracy actually can be.
The conservative tribe demands that the enemy (that would be us) be attacked, and meanwhile our tribe is in the nurse’s office because we glued our balls to our legs again, to steal a recent quip about health care reform from Jon Stewart.
And now this is all manifesting itself in outright criminality, and of course that’s not new either. From the Palmer Raids to the McCarthy and Nixon eras, the song remains the same. Remember how much hard time Oliver North did? Yeah.
Some of the national commentary about O’Keefe has centered on what his “motivations” were, which I suppose has some bearing but also acts to disguise the foul nature of being caught in such a situation. I mean, they were pretending to be telephone repairmen in the office of a Senator who sits on the Homeland Security committee? One of them apparently had a listening device in a car nearby? Is there some kind of explanation possible that would justify that, other than being lunatics?
Some national commenters have predicted that O’Keefe’s future is in jeopardy, but that seems unlikely. If history is any guide, O’Keefe could very well wind up in charge of a giant right wing agit-prop machine to wield against his perceived enemies, just like the man who gave him so much air time in the first place, Roger Ailes of Fox Noise. (For those not clicking the preceding link, Ailes got his first big national political job in the 1968 campaign of Richard M. Nixon. The song remains the same.)
Given O’Keefe’s problems choosing between right actions and wrong actions, for anyone in the legacy media to ever, ever, ever again lend O’Keefe credibility is to deny what is plain and obvious to everyone outside the conservative pathology bubble: much of the right-wing in this country is utterly and completely unhinged. Normal people want to be able to afford doctor’s visits and pay for groceries, they don’t think about bugging Senate offices, and normal people consider law breaking to be wrong.
And they don’t believe a damn word coming out of Fox Noise.