We don’t watch Fox News at our house because we understand it was founded to be a Republican “news” outlet, which is to say it’s a propaganda vehicle. So I am ignorant of what they say and am often surprised to hear what is stated on that news source. And of course Rush Limbaugh is so notoriously biased that it is hard to understand why anyone takes him seriously. Even so, we know folks, good folks, who listen to these sources and seem to take them for granted, as if they were reliable sources. Politicians are different: we expect them to overdraw an issue
But in truth I have been dumbfounded to hear what some of these people in the Republican propaganda network have been saying. [From Bill Moyers today]
SENATOR STEVE KING: If Obamacare is ever implemented and enforced, we will never recover from it. It is an unconstitutional takings of God-given American liberty.
AINSLEY EARHARDT on Fox and Friends: Thanks to Obamacare, doctors will be forced to ask patients about their sex life, even if it has nothing to do with the medical treatment that they are seeking at the time.
MICHELLE MALKIN on Fox and Friends: That healthcare plan puts a discount on the lives of elderly people and would result in the redistribution of health away from the elderly and the infirm to other special favored interests and patients.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: What we now have is the biggest tax increase in the history of the world. Obamacare is just a massive tax increase, that all it is.
SARAH PALIN on Cashin’ In: Of course there are death panels in there, but the important thing to remember is that’s just one aspect of this atrocious, unaffordable, cumbersome, burdensome, evil policy of Obama’s and that is Obamacare.
These are not inadvertent misstatements; they are outright lies. Everyone who formulated these statements knew better. So why are they making such outrageous claims? What are they lying to accomplish? Bill Moyers today quoted from the right-wing blog, RedState.com:
“Congressmen, this is about shutting down Obamacare. Democrats keep talking about our refusal to compromise. They don’t realize our compromise is defunding Obamacare. We actually want to repeal it. This is it. Our endgame is to leave the whole thing shut down until the President defunds Obamacare. And if he does not defund Obamacare, we leave the whole thing shut down.”
It is crucial that we recognize lies to be what they are. Whatever are their purposes they are social poison. They weaken the fabric of trust that enables a social contract to work.
The American people have been lied to many times: Just go to the Lincoln National Historic Site in Springfield, IL, and look at all the cartoons about him; he was treated with disdain and scorn my many in his time. Some lies erode the fabric that makes society possible.
In fact Lincoln and his times are quite a relevant analogue to our times. How could the American people have been brought to kill each other in the Civil War? Only by years of bitterness and slander. By the time the country came to war both sides believed that the other incarnated evil. Are we on a similar path?
Lies — slanderous innuendo and outright calumny — can bring down a country. They are the foundation for the distrust that erodes the unite of a society and they are the ground on which the abuse of other human beings is based. Consider these cases of civil abuse:
• The Nazis were able to put into motion their Jewish death camps only after years of slanderous tales about the Jews.
• When Yugoslavia splintered into several pieces, the terrible abuses of “ethnic cleansing” were made to seem right by the slanders that were promoted by Slobodan Milosevic (on behalf of the Serbs) and Franco Tudjman (for the Croats).
• The Rwandan genocide was made possible by the persistent propaganda of a government under the control of Hutu Power, which spouted poisonous propaganda on the radio about Tutsi “cockroaches”.
Calumnious propaganda – that’s how you create the climate for civil war. And that’s what’s being spouted out in our own radio and TV stations. The effect is growing bitterness, scorn, and distrust on all sides. Is it not necessary that we expose the lies for what they are? This is why I appreciate Bill Moyers. Whatever you think about his work, he is at least trying to set the truth straight. In today’s broadcast he concludes a critical review of what the dangerous slanderers have been saying with the following:
Like the die-hards of the racist South a century and a half ago, who would destroy the Union before giving up their slaves, so would these people burn the place down, sink the ship of state, and sow economic chaos to get their way. This says it all, they even shuttered the Statue of Liberty.
Watching all this from London, the noted commentator Martin Wolf, of the capitalist friendly Financial Times, says “America flirts with self-destruction.”
This man [picture of Newt Gingrich] is the biggest flirt of all, Newt Gingrich. It was Newt Gingrich who twenty years ago spearheaded the right-wing’s virulent crusade against the norms of democratic government. As Speaker of the House he twice brought about shutdowns of the federal government once, believe it or not, because he felt snubbed after riding on Air Force One with President Clinton and had to leave by the backdoor.
It was also Newt Gingrich, speaker Gingrich, who was caught lying to congressional investigators looking into charges of his ethical wrongdoing. His colleagues voted overwhelmingly, 395 to 28, to reprimand him. Pressure from his own party then prompted him to resign.
Yet even after his flame out, even after his recent bizarre race for the presidency bankrolled with money from admiring oligarchs, even after new allegations about his secret fundraising for right-wing candidates, Gingrich remains the darling of a fawning amnesic media. …
On CNN.com the other day he issued a call to arms to his fellow bomb-throwers, “…don’t cave on shutdown.”
At least let’s name this for what it is, sabotage of the democratic process. Secession by another means. And let’s be clear about where such reckless ambition leads. As surely as night must follow day, the alternative to democracy is worse.”