Remember Bryan Fischer, the frothingly homophobic (no, seriously, the guy dedicates his entire life to railing about the myriad dangers of having gay people around at all, not to mention the dangers of tolerating them and not making their lives a living hell for no apparent reason) American Family Association director who CNN for some reason invited onto the teevees yet again to opine about how Mitt Romney must dump his openly gay foreign policy spokesman because gay people are abominations unto the Lord, etc., etc.? Great moments in television, that.
Now here’s Fischer on his own program, last Friday, contemplating the sort of deep thoughts that I guess justify his continued appearances on CNN and the like. Thank God we have HDTV now, so we can actually see the smoke rising from his head as he says this stuff:
To Barack Obama, the entire United States of America is one big, giant Ku Klux Klan and the Constitution, for Barack Obama, is the membership charter for this giant Ku Klux Klan … And I honestly believe that this is how Barack Obama sees the United States of America; one big, giant Ku Klux Klan meeting and it’s his job to punish the Ku Klux Klan, which is the United States of America in his worldview. [...]
I talked with a law enforcement officer this week, a well-respected man, I’ve got a lot of respect for this guy and he says “look, I’m in law enforcement; we have to get ammo for our officers [and] we’re having a tough time getting ammo. And I’ve been hearing from other people that Homeland Security, DHS is buying up virtually all of the ammunition that’s being produced by munitions manufacturers. They’re buying it up; million, and million, and million of rounds.”
This is not for the military, this is for Homeland Security. Who are they going to turn that ammunition on? They’re going to turn it on us! That ammunition is not going to fight our enemies abroad; it’s being used to arm agents of the Department of Homeland Security. Well, who are they going to be going after? They’re going to be going after us!
Well that’s some high-grade insanity right there. You’d normally have to pay extra for that, but Fischer will hand you some free of charge, and still have plenty left to make the rent.
Again: all of modern conservatism is one big conspiracy theory. The whole damn thing. This ammo thing has been going around since Obama’s inauguration. Birtherism, since before that. Mitt Romney, for his part, is campaigning on the idea that Barack Obama is secretly super-super-radical and he’s just been hiding it for his entire life so that he can do crazy radical things only upon being re-elected.
Why does Bryan Fischer matter, despite the fact that he is obviously (1) a hate filled, bitter old crank with nothing to say on any subject that isn’t filled with bile and bullcrap, and (2) he is quite possibly nuts? I don’t know. Apparently, however, he does, because he’s a regular on CNN (which, apparently, often feels it needs to provide “balance” on things by hosting someone who will opine that homosexuals are threats to national security). Mitt Romney has to listen to him, apparently, or at least listen to people like him who demand Romney purge homosexuals from any position of influence in his own campaign. Fischer’s organization, the American Family Association, is designated as a hate group by the Southern Policy Law Association; it doesn’t take much perusing of Fischer’s public statements to determine the obvious validity of that status. Why, then, does he merit “pundit” status? Why is he still in the media Rolodex?
There is value in hearing from all sides of an argument. There is not, however, value in hearing from deranged people, or people who lie outright, or people who peddle in ridiculous conspiracy theories, or people whose only contribution to the discourse is to encourage hatred of specific groups. Set aside the questions of media propriety and responsibility, when broadcasting hatred or false information to a larger audience, even under the guise of “opinion”; at the very least, it is valueless. Furthermore, it strengthens the perception that dishonesty in political discourse is a normal thing, to be expected, and something that will in no way damage the reputations of either the speaker or those that channel the lies. Even if the hatred (of gay Americans, in Fischer’s case) was somehow deemed worthy of airtime (which it is, apparently), the lies are not. Fischer thinks of Obama as a dangerous black radical bent on punishing white America for their sins; toward this end, he peddles the flat lie that Homeland Security is stockpiling ammo to “go after” white Americans. That right there should be an instant disqualifier from “serious” political discourse. It is a clear and boldly painted sign telling you that the speaker is Batshit Fucking Crazy, and that his other ideas, say, on the national security dangers of Teh Gays, are products of the same asinine mindset.
I keep saying it, I know. But it really is pernicious. The notion that liars and conspiracy theorists are legitimate “balance” in national political discussions is the single most damaging thing one could do to a democracy. It cheats the public. It is not news; it is not even “opinion.” It is just misinformation.
If we were to merely start shunning (merely, I say, as if it were no big thing!) political liars, imagine how the political landscape would change. Think of what would happen if a prominent politician was actually made to feel shame for telling a falsehood to an audience (say, that there were 80 members of the Communist Party in Congress, or that the president had been traveling the world “apologizing” for the United States, or that your proposed budget numbers that clearly did not do a damn thing to fix the deficit were somehow deficit-cutting because magic.) It’s not even something we can really imagine seeing, at this point. Even when the media calls out lies, there is no shame attached to it. Propagating a lie or peddling a conspiracy theory is seen merely as a strategic choice. Shoring up the base, they call it, or setting a narrative.
There’s no hope of changing it. If we can’t even shun the Bryan Fischers of politics, the fearmongers and conspiracy zealots, the people who are just plain delusional, so warped are their summations of the ammo-hoarding, homosexual-backed race-war-preparing landscape that they imagine as their own political landscape, then there is hardly any impetus for less egregious, more skilled liars be a bit more circumspect when peddling their wares. And so the televised clown show goes on, not so much a political discussion as a crooked, never-ending carnival game.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2007:
With the implications of last November’s elections finally sinking in, and with the 2008 elections looming, Republicans are getting nervous:
Republicans in Congress are increasingly worried that their stalwart support of President Bush’s Iraq war policy may cost them dearly in next year’s elections. [...]
A question increasingly asked in the Capitol is: how big a price might the party pay if the war continues to claim U.S. casualties without quelling the anti-American insurgency?
Yes, that’s the question that’s keeping Republicans up at night. Not the 3363 U.S. troops that have been killed during the four years they rubber stamped Bush’s disastrous Iraq policy. Not the more than 20,000 wounded. Not the unknown tens (hundreds?) of thousands of dead Iraqis. The only price they’re concerned about is the political price they might pay.