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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

 
Big Lie

by digby

I've been writing quite a bit about the building rightwing "explanation" for the economic crisis: the blacks and the Mexicans stole your tax money to buy perfectly good houses they couldn't afford and the wreck them. Perlstein called it "a modern day equivalent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion—a Big Lie narrative that blames a despised, outcast social group for problems they had nothing to do with, in order to aggrandize the ability of the dominant group to hate and oppress." There are a lot of awesomely outrageous claims floating around in right wing circles right now as they desperately to keep the whole ship from going down, but that has to be the most despicable.

But even more scary is the idea that it might just work. Rick recounts a tale of the modern media, which is both familiar and infuriating:

So what did I do in that Chicago radio studio last Friday when a wingnut (who, incidentally, is African American) spewed forth some excrement about how Jews harvest the blood of children for their Passover matzohs handouts to swarthy people are responsible for the meltdown of the American economy? I did my job. I called it a "lie and a slander," explaining in simple and forceful terms that lending institutions covered by the CRA have a lower mortgage default rates than ones that aren't, and that even if the former were the worst companies in the history of the universe, they wouldn't have helped produce the financial contagion had not conservative deregulation green-lighted the buying and selling of insanely irresponsible mortgage-backed securities.

Rick heard the segment later and they had cut out his debunking of the right wing smear completely.

... the reason a conservative lie was allowed to stand could have been perfectly innocent: perhaps the audio of my debunking was garbled by crosstalk. Perhaps they cut without a second thought, just for purposes of time; my stint in the recording studio was twice again as long as the completed segmented, so they had to cut somewhere.

But it's also possible that the producers' thinking could have went something like this:

He said: "it's the conservatives' fault." She said: "It's the liberals' fault." Both drew political blood in equal measure, and the canons of fairness and balance demand we leave it at that, rather than let the liberal sneak in the last word: "He said, she said"—snip, snip, snip.

Which would be a splendid illustration of how conservatives launder lies across our political discourse. Textbook, actually. No malice aforethought on the part of the media gatekeepers; just an overcautious commitment to the value of what they call "balance" over the value of Truth with a capital T.

Which is just how the right might be able to get away with making the 2008 presidential election a referendum, for millions of low-information voters, over whether minorities should be able to get away with taking over all the instruments of federal power and writing checks to each other, or whether they will be stopped before it's too late.


From the moment I first heard this lie last fall during the originally rumblings of the credit market crisis, I knew it would end up having salience for an awful lot of Americans. This is one of the foundations of conservative tribe dogma: the other tribe is trying to take your hard earned money and give it to the dark skinned others. It's so embedded into their lizard brains that they don't even know it's what they believe, but it's at the heart of the fact that every time something goes wrong in our system, a fair number of people reflexively blame blacks and other minorities for their problems. And it's why we have the thinnest safety net of all first world countries and why we are constantly fighting a rear guard action to keep what we have.

It's time to fight this out in the political arena.


Update: Media Matters has more evidence of this toxic meme spreading.

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