THE MASK OF SANITY

One of the reasons conservatives are so sensitive to charges of being a movement composed mostly of virulently angry, reactionary, and sometimes violent white men is that they are a movement composed mostly of virulently angry, reactionary, and sometimes violent white men. The Republican Party expends an incredible amount of effort and resources on image doctoring; every time some elected official or party worker lets the mask slip away and the rest of us see them for what they really are, the spin doctors rush in to tell us, in a tone that suggests that they are actually trying to convince themselves, that Republicans are smart, forward thinking, and kind people.

Fortunately the internet allows every yahoo on Earth to spout off with no filter whatsoever. I like to call internet comment sections "Where Hope Goes to Die," but in reality they give us the important opportunity to see what those wonderful, honest, generous, hard-working Americans who make up the right side of the ideological spectrum are really like when there are no Communications Directors and PR hacks around to teach them how not to sound like cave monsters.

Yesterday, some random guy was found near the White House with a rifle (which was unlicensed and unregistered) when apprehended by the Secret Service. Fox News posted this item on its Facebook feed. I took a pair of screen captures of the first screen or two of comments on the post:

fox

fox2

There it is. That's what they are: mean, reactionary, semi-literate, and violent. They haven't the most basic understanding of the laws and rights they claim to cherish, and most of the comments sum to "It would be awesome if someone murdered the president." The reason they are so sensitive to the charge that this is what they are like is that they know, even if they won't admit it, that this is in fact exactly what they are like.

Oh – they are really not-racist too. Just ask them.

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33 Responses to “THE MASK OF SANITY”

  1. Heywood J. Says:

    Not that anyone expects some random dope on Facebook to have even a nodding acquaintance with the factual basis for their feverish assertions, but contra the claims of one Chris Eversoll, the state of Missuhsippuh ranks #3 on the ol' murder rate.

  2. Xynzee Says:

    I thought Peoria was where hope went to die. ;)

    I once challenged some people that their main issue with Obama in the White House was that he was a "darkie" in the WHITE House. They started to call me the "racist", mostly because I expressed in public that they only use in private. These were the kind, who if I could bothered to trawl the comments, would be in the above thread.

    I while people being generally nasty to each other is feature of humanity, I strongly believe that the rise of the ilk of Limpbough—extended into Faux Nuuz—has a lot to do with the rise of a more virulent form of nastiness. He gives voice and encouragement to that type of nastiness that was only found in Southern Democrats or isolated pockets for the rest of the country. The GOP was happy to let this happen because it served their purposes just fine. Now it's out of their control and they either have to pander to this base or start leaning leftwards. What will it be?

  3. Xynzee Says:

    Just saw this:
    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6188952

    Meta story is….

  4. Anonymouse Says:

    Gosh, remember under the last regime, where merely wearing a t-shirt with the number of dead American soldiers on it was enough to get one woman assaulted by security and arrested and thrown in jail with a broken collarbone and no medical attention? Remember when the Rill Merkkkuns shrieked and gibbered that it was treason to merely disagree with a sitting president? Remember the death threats a country singer got for saying she was embarrassed that particular president was from her home state?

  5. Anonymouse Says:

    Also, remember when anyone who wasn't licking the former president's boots had to go stand in a guarded compound so the president didn't have to acknowledge that he wasn't Practically Perfect in Every Way?

  6. duquesne_pdx Says:

    Heywood J., you beat me to it. That particular comment jumped out at me, as I used to live in Baton Rouge (a pestilent sewer of racism and ignorance that makes Peoria sound like paradise). Those of us who were there that weren't actually from Louisiana used to comfort ourselves by saying "at least it's not Mississippi."

  7. c u n d gulag Says:

    Ed,
    By pointing your finger at them, YOU'VE proven that YOU'RE the real mean, reactionary, semi-literate, and violent bigot!!!

    And so are the rest of us Libtards!

  8. bjk Says:

    So it must be really hard to track down examples of libtards threatening the president, right? Not really.

    http://www.zombietime.com/zomblog/?p=621

    The first principle of political partisanship is "both sides do it."

  9. Anonymouse Says:

    @bjk: Why would you expect anyone to take an unhinged conservative self-satisfied blog seriously?

  10. Mo Says:

    So what is society supposed to do about this sludge at its bottom?

    Lining people up and shooting them just doesn't work. We spent most of the 20th century proving that little point.

    It all about feeling empowered, no matter what a useless tool you really are. They're validation junkies. The pushers selling them affirmation are the ones who ought to be lined up and…oh, wait.

  11. Andrew Says:

    @Anonymouse: Because bjk is an unhinged, self-satisfied conservative?

  12. Khaled Says:

    This isn't even the worst comment section I've read this week.
    No need to go to Fox News, look at CNN or WaPo, the crazies crawl out from the rocks they live under to spout racist drivel there too. The "Your Stupid You libtard" rants also get directed at the NYT, but that's kind of like looking to frat houses for douchy behavior- it's not as if it's expected.
    At what point does dissent become sedition? The "left" didn't react to the recent election by asking for the heads of Republican Senators on pikes. Some BS talk of "revolution" got thrown around, but nothing to the level that accompanied Obama's election or re-election.

  13. Skipper Says:

    These folks have always been around. The only thing that has changed is the megaphone of the Internet.

    Back in the day, these knuckle-draggers hung around the bar at the Legion, some neighborhood dive bar, a gas station, a barber shop, etc. They had the same uninformed and idiotic opinions, but those rantings only reached to the end of the bar. Now they can spread the stupidity around the world with the push of a button.

    And, for the record, they're not conservatives. There are no conservatives any more. I remember when there were. They were sincere in their failed policies, but they did have the goal of trying to make the country a better place to live and to make people's lives better.

    Now, the goal of those who call themselves conservatives is just the opposite. They're about punishing people, keeping people down, humiliating people, destroying the middle class, and selling off the commons to the highest bidder (or worse still, the most politically connected).

    They're divided into two groups, the billionaire corporatists at the top and the herds of sheep at the bottom who consistently vote and act against their own best interests.

    I'm very selective about the sites I go to and the comments I read. And never, never, never read the comments the follow news stories on newspaper websites. Those just make you want to move to Mars.

  14. Major Kong Says:

    In the words of Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth –

    "I don't want to live on this planet any more!"

  15. Jason Says:

    As one of the rare species known as very liberal pro-gun person, I've said it before and I'll say it again: Gun owners are gun owner's worst enemy.

    As an aside, what does unlicensed and unregistered mean? I mean, I know what you are saying, but guns aren't licensed and/or registered in the vast majority of the country.

  16. Well mostly Says:

    Though it's hard, and getting harder, I sometimes try to find a little sympathy for these angry (mostly) white men. Set aside the nastiness and really, just in terms of the numbers involved, it's that demographic whose fortunes have fallen the most in recent decades: union protection gone, pensions gone, health care dubious, jobs iffy at best, wages flat for years, prospects reduced. And too ready to fall under the sway of big talkers like Rush, Ted, etc. At the end of every day a little more of what they had goes to the Walton's, the Kochs, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Toby Keith, etc. The anger is understandable even if misplaced. If they ever wake up and understand the real source behind their troubles the conservative leaders (ha!) will have a hard time with those they've kept hyped up and outraged at a fever pitch for so long. Many others have suffered more no doubt and have poorer prospects. But the decline of the blue-collar work force in the USA and their families has been staggering by any measure.

  17. jon Says:

    Jason,

    The vast majority of those unlicensed and unregistered guns don't end up visiting the White House and attracting the attention of the security officers there, too. But in DC, they're supposed to be registered and licensed, as far as I know.

  18. Anonymouse Says:

    @Jason; amazing. I have to register my car, by law. I must register my dog, by law. But I don't have to register my gun.

  19. Nick Says:

    Jason, in DC they are. The process is pretty ridiculous–I had to take an online course explaining in great detail what a trigger does, and correctly answer such challenging questions as "T/F: It is legal to fire your gun into the air on New Year's Eve?" (and no, that's not hyperbole–but all guns possessed in city limits have to be registered with the police office. So the initial charge for this guy was possession of an unregistered firearm, which they're holding him on until they figure out exactly what his deal is.

  20. Jason Says:

    Anonymouse: I'm not interested in turning this into a gun control debate. I was just wondering why it was relevant to describe the gun that way when few states even do registration.

  21. Barry Says:

    Well Mostly, I agree. However, we've seen such a big chunk who'd rather not really change things, if changing them meant that Somebody Else would benefit.

    I think that 'crabs in a bucket' characterizes far too much of the American people.

  22. Whatver Says:

    "mean, reactionary, semi-literate, and violent", and more importantly, powerless, and too fucking cowardly to do anything about it except whine on the internet.

  23. Anonymouse Says:

    @Well, mostly: I remember watching the tv show All in the Family in the early 1970s. Carroll O'Connor did a great job portraying old white men who were losing their universal privilege as civilization marched forward. But that was nearly half a century ago. The bitter old white men now have absolutely no excuse to be this way.

  24. cromartie Says:

    What the "no no, that's not us, that's not what we're like" crowd is is a group of people that don't want to admit they have to rely on the people who actually are like that for support. It translates to "they're like me, but I'm better than them."

    Which, unless you're a 1%er, really boils down to House Slave versus Field Slave, doesn't it?

  25. Xynzee Says:

    @Whatever: except when they don't.

  26. Emerson Dameron Says:

    I'm aware that many stupid reactionaries in the comments sections of HuffPo and Gawker Media share my basic ideology.

    I would consider changing my beliefs if they were this popular among people who seem not just stupid but like a bunch of violently deranged bigots.

  27. quixote Says:

    The bitter white men in the 1970s, especially on the sitcoms, were losing only their privilege. By now they've lost incomes and futures and youth as well. It's still no excuse for stupidity, but they're not the only ones who've regressed since the 1970s. Lots of stuff has regressed. Ed even writes about some of it. (Education, the hollowed out heartland, the unhappy digestive tract south of there, etc.)

  28. John Danley Says:

    Not only dumber than we suppose, but dumber than we can suppose.

  29. Xynzee Says:

    @Anonymouse: Norman Lear was recently interviewed about what Archie Bunker would think about the Tea Party. He described him as person who didn't like change, he was bewildered by the changes and it scared him. Lear goes on to emphasise the point that Archie was NOT a hater. Archie also learns to grow and change, which makes him makes him human.

    I know lots of "older" people who are a bit like that. When you say "racist" they're thinking KKK or George Wallace. They are blind to the structural and institutional racism that is in place, thus do not *get it*. It's easy to look at the TV or blog section and say THOSE people or THEM. It's different when one is taking the dog for a walk chatting with the neighbours, who aren't like themselves, about the kids and grand kids. Now "those people" become a person. I find they make the ignorant, cringeworthy gaffes, but there's no malice in the person. Which is key.

    Unfortunately, this fear that is in Archie can easily go wrong.

    I do not see a blinking bewildered Archie Bunker in these comments, but a closet KKK supporter.

  30. Anonymouse Says:

    @Xynzee: Archie, while a fictional character, was very similar to adults I knew back then. I agree with you that (especially toward the end of the show) Archie was capable of changing, and his fear was manifested by bluster. He wouldn't have been the type we see carrying hilariously misspelled signs with hateful messages on them. He wouldn't be blowing up women's health clinics or gunning down a teenager carrying iced tea and Skittles.

    However benign the character, Archie was also the archetype of the bitter white man losing his privilege. We see this type today not only threatening to kill the President, but also to kill women who have the audacity to play video games or exist in public. They cheer the assassination of minorities, too.

  31. Major Kong Says:

    "Gun owners are gun owner's worst enemy."

    There is a difference between a responsible gun owner and one who's just been lucky so far.

  32. My Truth Hurts Says:

    The second to last commenter claims that because everyone in his state owns a gun they have one of the lowest "murder/crime" rates in the US. Mississippi actually has the 2nd highest murder/crime rate in the US.

    http://www.wapt.com/news/mississippi/fbi-ranks-mississippi-no-2-for-homicides/22042856

  33. Mike Says:

    Right-wing commenters on the Fox News Facebook page? Way to pick the low-hanging fruit there. I come here for hard-hitting news and investigative reporting, not making fun of easy targets!

    Oh, I just realized that I am probably on the wrong website.