False analogies

Saturday, Salon posted an interesting interview with Canadian journalist Jonathan Kay on the psychology behind truthers, birthers and other conspiracy theorists. Interesting, but I find myself strongly in disagreement on a couple of points:
“In the years immediately after 2003 when the Iraq war began, you could say anything about Bush in the left-wing press, and you’d find people who would say, “Oh yes, that’s true. He’s a theocrat, he’s a fascist, he’s a Nazi.” Yes, it’s terrible what they’re saying about Obama, but I think people have short memories and they don’t remember how bad the things that were said about Bush were.”
A fair point, but not particularly relevant when discussing birtherism. Charges Bush was a fascist (like arguments Obama is a socialist) were, after all, based on criticisms of his actual policies (not accurate ones—much as I loathed his policies they weren’t fascist, any more than Obama’s a fascist/communist/socialist). Discussions of Obama’s supposed fake birth are nothing to do with what he does, only what he is.
Trutherism isn’t exactly comparable either, because Washington treated the idea of 9/11 as an inside job as a fringe movement. No “truther” ever got the mainstream press coverage Trump’s received; no legislators in Washington ever suggested their might be some truth to it.
And no, the fact Trump keeps parroting his claims does not somehow make them worthy of coverage. As the Daily Howler points out here, saying them over and over doesn’t make them any less bullshit.
•Kay describes the Clinton conspiracy theories as “interesting,” but adds that they “fizzled out” pretty quickly after he left office because they focused on “the machinations of political operatives” compared to epic conspiracies that place sleeper agents in the White House, plot to control the world economy or arrange for their own country to be attacked by terrorists.
A fair point. But it ignores that in their time, Clinton conspiracy theories were, again, vastly more mainstream than anything charged against Bush. As the Howlers has pointed out many times, the Clinton death list and charges that Hilary had Vince Foster murdered got mainstream media treatment in a way that 9/11 conspiracy theories never had; Whitewater was examined (and distorted) far more than any of Bush’s business deals, just as Clinton’s draft-dodging got much more attention than Bush.
Jerry Falwell, a mainstream Republican religious leader, lied about Clinton’s supposed career as a drug-dealer and murderer in Arkansas (just as 15 years earlier, Falwell lied through his teeth about Jimmy Carter (and yes, these were definitely lies, not errors—Falwell admitted, for example, that he made up claims Carter would appoint gays to his cabinet).
The anti-Clinton movement was strong enough that he became the first president since Johnson to undergo an impeachment trial (Nixon would have faced one if he hadn’t resigned first, of course). That’s a lot more formidable than anything birthers or truthers have accomplished. And if there’d been any grounds for claiming Clinton had been born in Canada, I’m quite sure the Repubs would have added that to the list of charges.
That’s been the big difference between conservatives and liberals for a number of years: Both sides have crazies, but right-wing crazies are mainstream.


Filed under Politics

3 responses to “False analogies

  1. Montana

    Our president had already showed his US passport to;

    1. Get a Passport;

    2. Become a US Senator;

    I feel sorry for all the little Birthers, It’s not their fault; it’s your families’ fault that taught you that you were better than other people based on race, creed ethnicity, color, nationality or sex, in short they engrained in you their hate (what a legacy).

    But you know at some point you need to grow up and act like an adult and think for yourself and distinguish what is true and what is BS.

    But there is where the little Birthers find yourself because we all know it was never about a birth certificate or grades, because we all know you want to go around wearing white sheets, burn crosses and hang people who are not like you, we know that your growth is stunted in your hate, and hate is what this is all about, you will never win anymore, and I feel sorry for all of you. I can only imagine when our President is re-elected what you phonies will lie about next. Oh, and just know, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it’s a duck, the little Birthers are a bunch of racists!

  2. Kevin

    1 = US President
    0 = Birthers/ Bin Laden/ Trump/ Huckabee

    Deal with the truth!

  3. Pingback: Conspiracy theories of those who rule | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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