Thursday, December 12, 2002

The Awful Truth and What it Means

A friend of mine from college -- currently a staffer with one of the slimier people in Washington (in my opinion) -- really does like to use those Republican talking points when getting his point across. Over the past few days, we've been e-arguing over the last elections. Try to believe, as my man Bob Somerby says, that he wrote this about the fliers in black neighborhoods in Louisiana that said if the weather was bad, they could vote on Tuesday: "Now that Louisiana stuff is bullshit, and by bullshit I mean I doubt it happened and if it did I would bet it was a democrat set up."

This was the worst kind of epiphany, people. It really was. I knew and liked this guy in college. He and I had some really good times together. He and I lost contact over the years -- I was in the Navy and he was diligently working his way up the Hill -- and, when we did get back in touch, I was working for KKSU radio in Manhattan, Kansas and he was working in Austin for the Bush campaign. Come to find out, we'd both converted to Catholicism at about the same time, too, oddly enough.

Here's the shocking part: I had convinced myself that only the crazy freepers believed the kind of stuff my friend was now spouting. (The Louisiana bit was only one of many comments, but I don't want to give away his or his employer's identity.) But, clearly, this wasn't a case of a man just being loyal. He actually believed that Democrats would put up fliers that told blacks they could vote late, just to "set up" Republicans. It doesn't make sense on so many levels I can hardly stand it. My fellow Democrats, we are fighting a group of people who are brainwashing themselves right before your eyes. They aren't just lying to the American public. They aren't just fighting for ascendancy. They are lying to themselves and beating down any shred of common sense which rears its ugly head. The ones who don't turn over their free will and intelligence to the party cannot succeed in the party.

If a guy like the one I'm talking about can go from an open-minded, hilarious, smart, suffer-no-fools kind of guy to the kind of guy who could vehemently suck up and spew the bile that Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh toss their way, then God help us all.

So, what can be done? If you'll read the entry below, you'll see an excellent example of what happens when a conservative is faced with the truth and forced to recognize it. Our goal, then, is to know the truth at all times. We have to know what they're going to say before they say it and know how we ought to respond. One good thing about this surprise has been to realize that conservatives of all stripes really do follow the talking points. That makes them easier to figure out and easier to fight.

In light of recent events and with our education in mind, I recommend reading today's Daily Howler. Already, the conservative media have started rolling out their responses to the Trent Lott issue. As always, their method isn't to address his comments, but to say that a) this is a political move to pick on Republicans and b) where were they when Democrats X and Y were saying something similar. As Somerby shows, though, we need to keep them as honest as we possibly can. They will lie. We just have to know the sources of information by which we can refute their lies.

As for my friend, I continue to call him that. I finally moved the topic off of politics and there was some polite discussion of family and work. However, I look at him now as I would a friend at the end of a battle with terminal cancer. The confusion he shows, the repetitive speech, the vitriol obvious in his rants -- these are all simply the symptoms of a man lost (or very nearly lost) to the world of reality. Let's stop this disease before it spreads even further.


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