Benghazi and the Dehumanization of Liberals

Matt TaibbiMatt Taibbi put last week’s Benghazi hearing into a broader context that I think is really important, Trey Gowdy Just Elected Hillary Clinton President. If you know Taibbi’s work, you know that he is no fan of Clinton. And he is none too happy that Trey Gowdy and company made even him sympathetic to her. In fact, this is exactly what I was thinking, “Actually many people would have lost it early on and grabbed Gowdy by his goofy silver fro-hawk somewhere in hour six or seven, a fact that made Hillary by contrast look patient and presidential, in ways her campaign had been unable to achieve all year.” I believe I wrote the same thing last week, although mine involved a knife.

But that’s just politics. That’s not the broader context. As much as Taibbi might have major problems with Clinton — far bigger than my policy disagreements — he doesn’t doubt her basic humanity. But that is the base assumption of the Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Taibbi put it perfectly, “Hillary has a lot of flaws, but we’re supposed to believe that she doesn’t have a problem with dead Americans? Seriously?” Well, yes: seriously. Of course Taibbi knows that. And it isn’t just Clinton.

Trey GowdyTaibbi mentioned the fact that certain people had a tendency to dehumanize Bush when he was in office. “This is the same kind of abject stupidity we saw in the 9/11 Truth movement, which believed unquestioningly that a whole bund of Bush administration officials was willing to see Americans murdered en masse in order to further some convoluted world domination scheme.” But as Taibbi well knows, this was a very small group with no actual power. And of course, they weren’t liberals — conspiracy theorists tend to be in some incoherent realm that is both extreme right and extreme left.

Today, we live in a world where the Republican base — created largely by Fox News and hate radio — believes that liberals are at best naive in allowing the evil doers to take over the US, or actively evil and treasonous in trying to do that very thing themselves. This is not, of course, new. We saw it throughout the Clinton presidency and it was simply recycled for Obama. Some people claim that we shouldn’t elect Clinton because it will just create more scandal mongering from the Republicans. This is indeed a naive notion. Regardless of what Democrat becomes president, there will be more of this. That’s because Democrats are traitors by definition in the Republican mind.

So that is what was most horrifying to watch last week. It wasn’t an attack on Hillary Clinton but on all liberals — and even conservatives who are not of the crazy persuasion. We are not real citizens or even perhaps humans. And this is what allows the Republicans to continue to get elected despite only have policies that benefit the rich and powerful. Their voters believe that voting for that kind of thing is better than the alternative where they lose everything. And they would be right, if that were the actual choice. Of course, it isn’t.

What’s most interesting is that the Republican base ultimately acts the way the conspiracy theorists do. A couple of months ago, I wrote about this, Conspiracy Theories and the Yield to Real Power. By focusing on fake threats, these people allow real threats to have their way. And that is what the Republican base does: better to vote in favor of real threats to their livelihood and freedom rather than vote for Hillary Clinton who literally wants to kill ambassadors — and by extension, other regular Americans.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

17 thoughts on “Benghazi and the Dehumanization of Liberals

  1. It goes back to the Gingrich GOPAC of the early 1990s. The relentless drive to always be negative, don’t educate and always, always imply your opponent is anti-whatever (mostly American.)

    The Republicans-when you are actually standing in a room with one (and I do that a lot through work) do not think the person standing in front of them is evil. But once you stop standing in front of them, they do. One of my colleagues actually said I was not patriotic because I never served in the military on Facebook. Yet when him and I discuss politics in person, he never thinks I am this way. It is a very weird mindset that will not stop until they stop having their own reality.

  2. I grew up hearing all this wingnut stuff. Liberal Media Bias, the traitorous left, the weak appeasing left, the morally bankrupt left, all of it. But I’m 46 so I didn’t hear it on Fox or from Glen & Rush. The editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal were the headwaters of this mighty river. My parents, both highly intelligent people, read the Journal. And the parts of the paper that were about money supply, M1 through M whatever, and commodities pricing, and such lent the editorial page credibility with their boring technical competence. I learned the fable of the Welfare Queen from Mom, not Reagan. They had read it in the same place. But to really get these ideas mainstream they needed a brighter and louder, and dumber, distribution channel then the WSJ.

    • Rush would be nothing without the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. But ultimately, Reagan reflected the racism of our society. But that’s always true of demagogues. They just figure out how to use the basest instincts of a people.

  3. “This is the same kind of abject stupidity we saw in the 9/11 Truth movement, which believed unquestioningly that a whole bund of Bush administration officials was willing to see Americans murdered en masse in order to further some convoluted world domination scheme.”

    “a whole bund”? *snicker* Taibbi knows his Republicans.

    Seriously, though, why would anyone find this to be an improbable proposition? Oh, maybe not that W personally planted explosives in the basement, but that his coterie — the PNAC bunch — might well have been willing to stand aside and let something happen? It’s demonstrably true that they were willing to directly cause the deaths of tens of thousands of both Americans and Iraqis in order to further their political/financial ends. Because that’s exactly what they did when they pulled the UN inspectors and invaded with no justification except a pack of lies.

    In spite of revisionism it was very, very clear at the time what was going down, even to any average citizen who actually cared to know. There was enough public information to disallow any other conclusion. Yes, that also means that Hillary is either too deeply stupid to trust with power, or that she knew just what she was supporting and like former Clinton SoS Madeleine Albright, Hillary thought the predictable deaths were “worth it”. For reasons. This is what people mean when they say that Nader was right.

    • That’s an excellent point. I will have to give it some thought. There seems to be a difference between sending an army to war and allowing citizens to be directly attacked. The former is something that pretty much all presidents do. But I’m not certain there is such a big difference.

      On the second point, I agree completely. All I was doing for the six months before the invasion was listen to NPR, and it was crystal clear that this was just a war the Bush administration was determined to start.

  4. The night U.S. troops started the bombardment of Baghdad I was listening to Mike Malloy’s radio show. Malloy patched through a feed from a microphone outside Baghdad and just let it go for five or ten minutes while I sat there on the verge of tears thinking about what those explosions were doing to the people of the city. And what it meant for us, too.

    Later, I came across some photos of civilian casualties. You never saw any of this stuff in the American press. I particularly remember several of a young boy, about 10 years old, with his brains literally blown out. His face and hair were intact, but his head looked like a squashed melon — flaccid, nothing inside. I thought about sending that one to my right-wing sister, but didn’t have the heart.

    And for all those liberals who say “OK, Iraq was bad, but we had to go into Afghanistan!” Remember when the Taliban offered to turn over Bin Laden? No? Well I do:

    • That’s exactly right. We’re sold these bomb flashes as though they’re fun effects from a Hollywood movie, not super-powerful killing devices. It’s horrific.

    • It’s typical of the US that things are so skewed that what becomes normal is actually extreme. I remember the night of 9/11 and all the people just desperate to go to war with someone — anyone.

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