Monday, February 13, 2012


I still can't get used to the idea that Charles Johnson, of Little Green Footballs, is now one of the good (or at least decent) guys. But ever since his "break from the right", he's been relentless in reminding people why he broke, cataloging right-wing bigotry and ugliness with a thoroughness you can only do from the inside.

Going through comments looking for nuts is unfair, of course, and a lot of internet commenting is people deliberately saying the worst thing they can imagine because they're in a no-consequence environment. It doesn't even mean they believe it, just that they're getting off on breaking the taboo---any old punk who recalls Sid Vicious' and Siouxsie Sioux's Nazi armbands can understand the thrill. But all those caveats aside, jesus, this is ugly stuff---it's good to be reminded sometimes that there are thousands of people in the country, people sufficiently integrated into society that they have internet connections and time to leave comments, who write and maybe believe the kind of knuckle-dragging racist craziness that would seem over-the-top if it was dialogue in a Spike Lee movie.

A lot of the right's rage at liberals is basically textbook projection: taking one's worst attributes, and insisting they are the defining attributes of your enemy, so as to cleanse your own self-image. This kind of thing suggests that one of the many acts of projection is the constant complaint of "If Islam isn't evil, why won't moderate Muslims condemn terrorism?" Anyone who's paying attention knows that every time there's a terrorist incident, or even an act of censorship from the Islamic world, organizations like CAIR rush to issue press releases condemning it, mosques have "teach-ins" explaining to kids why this is wrong, and Muslim scholars go on television to explain to anyone listening why this is not okay.

But when the right erupts in bigotry and madness, moderate conservatives don't dare to condemn it publicly, and those who do (like Johnson) are immediately thrown out of the movement. I begin to suspect that the bleats about moderate Muslims not condemning hatred aren't just excuses to maintain anti-Muslim bigotry in the face of evidence, but are in fact desperate attempts, by conservatives who know how wrong their movement has gone, to assuage their guilty conscience.