Dinesh and Newtie tickle the wingnut lizard brain -- Frum howls.

Dinesh and Newtie Tickle The Lizard Brain

by digby

I know that racism is dead and all and that the right wing attitudes to Obama can in no way be attributed to it, but this latest salvo from Newtie and Dinesh (which I wrote about yesterday) sure does sound like it's a teensy bit racist. Even to David Frum:

With the Forbes story and now the Gingrich endorsement, the argument that Obama is an infiltrating alien, a deceiving foreigner – and not just any kind of alien, but specifically a Third World alien – has been absorbed almost to the very core of the Republican platform for November 2010.

Rush Limbaugh has been claiming for almost 2 years that President Obama is bent upon “redistribution” and “reparations.” Following D’Souza, Gingrich has now stepped up to suggest that this redistribution is motivated by anti-white racial revenge. If Obama wants to expand health coverage, tighten bank regulation, and create government make-work projects it’s not because he shares the same general outlook on the world as Walter Mondale or Ted Kennedy or so many other liberals, living and dead, all of them white and northern European. No, Obama wants to do what he does because he thinks like an African, and not just any kind of African but (in D’Souza’s phrase) “a Luo tribesman.”

It is to vindicate this African tribal dream that Obama wishes to raise the taxes of upper-income taxpayers and redistribute money away from these meritorious individuals. D’Souza contends that Obama is acting to vindicate his father’s supposed dream of overthrowing the global order and ending the global domination of the white race over other peoples.

Prepare yourselves: at his deepest personal level, what Barack Obama really wants to do is strip white property owners of everything they possess...

As for the underlying D’Souza article that inspired Gingrich, what is there to be said? When last was there such a brazen outburst of race-baiting in the service of partisan politics at the national level? George Wallace took more care to sound race-neutral.

I've written about this fear of the slave revolt phenomenon for years. It is one of the deepest, motivating impulses of white racists. (You don't have to be a psychologist to figure out why that would be...)It manifests itself when the social order breaks down (as it did during Katrina) or when black Americans they believe to be threatening to white privilege assume positions of power. And they find a million different ways to illustrate and justify it.

Here's Limbaugh during the 2008 election campaign:
Limbaugh: We know that technological advancement is going along at light speed. And yet during this period of time, whether it be the last 57 years or be it the last 20 years, it seems that a majority of the black population has remained angry, frustrated, and behind. They've been left behind. They are acting like they've been left behind, and of course we've heard that this is because of racism, natural systemic institutional racism in America, that we are unfair, that this country is just horrible and rotten.

...The federal government became the father. The father didn't have to hang around in order for the kids to be okay, depending on how you define okay. But as you study more and more of this ACORN stuff, you find that it has been part of an entire movement that has been going on for two, maybe three decades, right under our noses.

We thought that it was just liberal welfare policies and all that that kept blacks from progressing while other minorities grew and prospered, but no, it is these wackos from Bill Ayers to Jeremiah Wright to other anti-American Afrocentric black liberation theologists with ACORN, and Barack Obama is smack dab in the middle of it, they have been training young black kids to hate, hate, hate this country, and they trained their parents before that to hate, hate, hate this country. It was a movement. It was a Bill Ayers, anti-capitalist, anti-American educational movement. ACORN is how it was implemented, right under our noses. It has been a movement, it has been a religion, and Obama and Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers were all up to their big ears in it.
D'Souza and Gingrich have put a psuedo-intellectual spin on this by calling it Obama's "Afro-Centric anti-colonialism" But it all adds up to the same thing: the angry black man is rising up and coming after good god-fearing white people.

Frum says that Gingrich is doing this in order to appear to be the most ferocious right winger in contention for the presidency after having already established the trust of the business community on their issues. And then he claims that it will backfire because conservatives are not racists and will resent being covered in this slime. I think he right about the first. Gingrich is certainly vying for the title of King of the teabaggers. But it remains to be seen as to whether or not it will backfire among his target audience. (Judging from the various rallies over the week-end, I doubt it.) Certainly, many of the intelligentsia are uncomfortable with this sort of thing, as Frum demonstrates, but I think there's little doubt that Gingrich knows his audience and believes has found a crude enough dog whistle to get through to them.

As Frum illustrates, Gingrich may be a bad politician, but he's always been a very, very good propagandist. And his specialty is tickling the lizard brains of the right wing. He knows very well that the main motivation behind white working class loathing of liberalism is its alleged agenda to take their honest hard earned money and give it to the "wrong" people. He's worked that angle his entire career.

Amanda Marcotte explains why D'Souza's academic approach is particularly useful:

What’s interesting to me is that Gingrich and D’Souza are clearly filling a need in the wingnut masses for this pseudo-intellectual nonsense. It’s an article of faith in the wingnutteria that pointy-headed college professors don’t have common sense and aren’t worth listening to. And yet, despite this stereotype, they still have this strong need to have even their craziest beliefs (in this case, Birtherism) validated by something that they can convince themselves is pointy-headed academic analysis. D’Souza’s whole purpose in life is to give an elitist gloss to right wing populism and racism, and that’s basically all this is. It’s about giving the wild-eyed Birthers reassurance that their particular brand of nuttiness is acceptable in the halls of academia, and therefore not nutty at all. Of course, they’re lying to their people about this, but illusions, as I’m sure you know, matter more than facts ever could.

(She goes on to discuss how Nixonland's great theme of the Franklins vs the Orthogonians explains their psychological need for elite validation.)

Frum quotes Byron York lamenting this latest turn of affairs:

“Say you’re a GOP leader. With elections approaching, the public prefers your position on major issues of the day.” “Your Democratic opponents are suffering massive self-inflicted wounds. So what do you as a GOP leader do?” “Attack Obama’s ‘Kenyan, anti-colonial’ worldview, of course.”

That's utter nonsense, of course. The public doesn't prefer their position on the major issues of the day, they are merely punishing the people in power for failing to fix their problems. But it is worth pondering why anyone would think more overt racism is a good idea. Unfortunately, there's really no mystery. It's what Frum himself wrote: it's about appearing to be the most ferocious right winger out there and vying for the tea party voters. And in this toxic political environment aspiring right wing leaders have to up the ante on hate and fear every single day to stay ahead of the zeitgeist. That's what makes them so formidable --- and potentially dangerous. History shows this kind of thing can get way out of hand.

Frum thinks that the likes of Byron York tut-tutting this means that it's being rejected by conservatives. But I don't think the tea partiers care what National Review thinks. They care what Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh thinks. (I have my suspicions that they will validate this premise without a second thought, but we'll have to wait and see what they say.) If they validate it, then nothing Byron York or David Frum or any of the standard conservative movement elites say will make a difference. The Tea Party is operating outside that framework now, and although they crave a certain kind of intellectual elite validation, they have created their own: they call Glenn Beck "the professor." And he was one of the first to posit publicly that Obama hates white people.