Most weeks I like to check out the good people at Right Wing Watch to see what the loonies in Conservative World (where good times go to be publicly denounced as immorally anti-Christian) are up to, or down to, depending on your perspective. I have to tell you, it can be exhausting. And that’s from me, not the good people who actually delve into their world to report back to us so we may be properly warned. It just boggles my mind how distorted their view of Reality is. And thanks to a well-funded right-wing movement dedicated to ensuring their views are treated as being equally valid with more thoughtful, reality-based thinking, these people have had conferred upon them a credibility they should otherwise lack. Because they’re nuts. There’s no other explanation for it.
Take Dr. Ben Carson, for example. No, please, take him. Far away. While discussing race in America, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked Dr. Carson if things were “going to get worse” before they get better, and he responded with a true statement followed by a false one. He said, “I actually believe that things were better before this president was elected. And I think that things have gotten worse because of his unusual emphasis on race.” The first part was true in the sense that things were not as bad in 2008 as they are now, but the second part is totally off base, and an indication of how conservative minds think. The president isn’t the one who emphasizes race in everything, at least not from the comments I’ve heard him make as president. (I’ve never read his books, so I can’t speak to how much he emphasized race before 2008.) But if he gets asked about it more often than the forty-two white men who preceded him at his job, maybe it’s because he can offer a point of view his predecessors lacked. And maybe it’s because racial incidents are on the rise since our nation elected its first black president. But to ascribe these things to President Obama’s “emphasis on race” is to totally twist the reality of the situation. Carson then lied to explain how he came to that conclusion. Referencing the Henry Louis Gates incident (in which a college professor was arrested for trying to break into his own home, when he was in fact trying to open a stuck front door), Carson claims Obama said that the police “always do this kind of thing”. Actually what Obama said was that the Cambridge Police acted “stupidly.” Referencing the president’s comments about how if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin, how is that not taking a “balanced, objective look at things”? Is there some merit to the belief that if Obama had a son, he would be white? Why do conservatives feel the truth must be “balanced” with something? Like what, totally delusional thinking? Ever since the election of FDR, Conservatives have been trying to get their viewpoints treated as anything other than the selfish, greedy, me-first kind of thinking they represent. (You can read a partial transcript of Hewitt’s interview with Carson here, but then you might accidentally read my reply to some delusional Christian in the comments section.)
Now that you’ve taken Ben Carson away from me, take Representative Peter King (R-NY) with him. King, who is an ardent supporter of the Irish Republican Army (the first terrorist group I remember hearing about growing up), thinks that Officer Darren Wilson has been getting a totally bad rap just because he shot an unarmed young black man out of complete fear and didn’t even get indicted for it. So Wilson should get invited to the White House, so the president can thank him for doing his job. Yeah, Steve Benen (who wrote the article to which I linked) couldn’t believe it, either. But he has a link to video of the Congressman saying this. The problem with that suggestion, of course, is that it’s not the job of a police officer to kill unarmed people from down the street, nor is it the job of a prosecutor to find a way to prevent that cop from being charged with a crime for doing so, but that’s what happened in Missouri. I mean, it’s not as though Officer Wilson was visiting Washington, DC, and did the Secret Service’s job by stopping a White House intruder (by shooting him from down the street), so why should he be invited to the White House? In typical Conservative fashion, King wants to make heroes out of people who kill other people for no valid reason. (Face the truth. Officer Darren Wilson’s life was never in danger, he only thought it might be. And that should not be sufficient grounds to use deadly force.) Conservatives love to step up and support cops who kill people for not obeying orders, because in their warped minds, failure to obey a police officer is a capital offense, punishable by an immediate execution. IOW, do what you’re told or die.
And while you’re taking away Ben Carson and Peter king, please take away all those Conservatives who think the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the Pilgrims’ triumph over Socialism. I’ll let the author of the article explain:
The storyline goes like this: The early settlers at Plymouth at first experimented with a system of collective ownership of farmland, which, as with their compatriots at Jamestown, led to widespread famine. When they eventually abandoned this system in favor of private ownership, farmers were more productive, the harvest was bountiful, and a feast was held in celebration. Pass the stuffing!
As usual when it comes to Conservative interpretations of reality, it’s completely wrong and misses the point entirely! The first Thanksgiving celebration for a bountiful harvest was in 1621. The Pilgrims abandoned their Collective Course strategy in 1623. And they didn’t do it because of widespread famine (which contradicts the idea that their first harvest was bountiful) but because they wanted to make more money. It’s true that one reason they abandoned the Common Course was because there were bachelors who didn’t want to work for the benefit of other men’s wives and families, and there were women who objected to washing the bachelors’ clothes. This had more to do with the fact that these early settlers were not all from one town in England, but from all over the country. This was also at a time when people rarely traveled more than ten miles form their homes.
Communal farming arrangements were common in the pilgrims’ day. Many of the towns they came from in England were run according to the “open-field” system, in which the land holdings of a manor are divided into strips to be harvested by tenant farmers. As Nick Bunker writes in 2010’s Making Haste From Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World, “Open field farming was not some kind of communism. All the villagers were tenants of the landlord.”
There was no local baron in Plymouth, but it was a commercial project as much as a religious one, and the colonists still had to answer to their investors back in England. It was this, not socialist ideals, that accounted for the common course. Bunker writes, “Far from being a commune, the Mayflower was a common stock: the very words employed in the contract. All the land in the Plymouth Colony, its houses, its tools, and its trading profits (if they appeared) were to belong to a joint-stock company owned by the shareholders as a whole.”
He continues: “Under the terms of the contract … for the first seven years no individual settler could own a plot of land. To ensure that each farmer received his fair share of good or bad land, the slices were rotated each year, but this was counterproductive. Nobody had any reason to put in extra hours and effort to improve a plot if next season another family received the benefit.”
The Pilgrims’ unhappiness with this arrangement was not a rejection of Socialism, but of the corporate rules under which they had to live. You’ll never hear Conservatives talk about the early European settlers in this country that way – as anti-corporation.
This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss anything you wish, but preferably not right-wing distortions of reality, thank you.