Psychological Terrorists

Repost from Jack and Jill Politics

I spent the past several months away from politics. It was an involuntary hiatus made necessary by personal and professional commitments that demanded my utmost attention. When I left, we had a stimulus bill in place, a president with high approval ratings and some remaining afterglow from election night and inauguration day.

When I returned in mid August, it was to a country that had clearly lost its damn mind. I turned on one cable station to hear people demanding President Obama prove he’s an American citizen, an insane movement led by an Israeli citizen. I switched channels to see another group screeching in fear that Obama’s health care proposal would institute death panels to kill grandma. On yet another station, Glenn Beck accuses this president of having a deep-seated hatred for half of himself. Flip again to find parents removing their children from school because they don’t want their kids exposed to Obama’s socialist indoctrination. And yesterday, Green Jobs Czar Van Jones resigned after extreme pressure from right wing groups and extreme tepidness from the White House that hired him to do his very important work.

Great. After a brief respite, the most accessible American political discourse has returned to fearful, hate-filled, ignorant rants of a high-volume, low-intellect minority.

In such an environment, how does one govern? Does one try to “balance” such concepts as contradictory as a “public option” on one hand and “fear of death panels” on the other? Or does one realize that this is a false spectrum and to try to find a center in such a sea is a worthless and foolhardy expedition?

Too often, this White House has sent the signal that it seeks common ground and conciliation with parties interested in its total destruction. From my point of view, negotiating with ignorance, fear, hate and irrationality is insane. For example, when a major Republican figure in the health care negotiations spreads the death panel lie (Grassley), you see him for what he is, realize you’re dealing with a group of psychopaths, and reset the objectives. “Oh, so that’s how it’s gonna be? Cool. Good to know what we’re dealing with. Thanks for your time. We won’t be needing your services anymore. We’re taking our ball and playing somewhere else.” Negotiations require trust and trust assumes that all parties are not completely batshit crazy.

I realize I’m lumping a variety of “opposition” camps together: birthers, deathers, those who accuse the president of racism and those who accuse him of socialism. I’m grouping them because to me they all come from the same place. They’re engaging in a form of terrorism. They are using psychological violence (and occasionally the threat of real violence) to pursue a political objective, and in so doing, inflicting harm upon non-combatants.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the movies, it’s that “The United States of America does not negotiate with terrorists.” Yet this White House is willing to let these psychological terrorists set the terms of the debate and negotiate from their insane positions. One group of people is trying to talk about co-pays. The other thinks the president is a secret Kenyan. One group of people sees the creation of domestic, sustainable jobs as a cornerstone of the 21st century economy. The other thinks the president is going to murder your grandmother. This is not legitimate political discourse and to make decisions acknowledging terms so far apart in their reality is just plain stupid.

Van Jones was one of the good guys. A really, really good guy. He used his education and his passion to combat police brutality and the massive, wasteful incarceration of so many of this nation’s young, brown people. Having fought in the trenches for so long, he saw an opportunity to build hope and jobs and tangible communities as the world responds to the climate crisis. He connected the dots and inspired action and had a vision. He was the rare outsider who got a chance to move inside, and move he did.

Van was the kind of guy that gave me real confidence in this administration’s seriousness. President Obama meets with generals every day and sees scary reports and wants to get re-elected. I can always make some politics-based allowances for his underwhelming actions. Van, however, was truly one of us. He got it. And to give someone like him power gave me more faith in the president. So when the lynch mob came after Van, it was a test. The same test so many Democratic administrations have failed time and time again. When the going gets tough, do you back your people, or do you fall back on excuses.

This White House, this administration and this president failed Van, failed its supporters and failed to honor the efforts of millions that got them into office in the first place. What’s the point of having power if you don’t use it? When will this White House realize that nothing it does will ever be acceptable to the loud-mouthed, ignorant minority? When will it learn that you cannot negotiate with terrorists??

I’m heartbroken over Van’s departure because it’s these little meaningless concessions that undermine people’s faith in the system. You get folks all riled up about change. You empower a man who embodies that change. And they you let him be run out of office by fucking Glenn Beck? So Glenn Beck is running the White House now? Is that how it’s gonna be? Just tell me that I knocked on all those doors for nothing, and I can start the grieving process, but don’t pretend this will solve anything.

I can’t help but look at this spineless response and see it in contrast to the previous administration. You know how gansta they are? DICK CHENEY IS STILL TALKING SMACK! You don’t see anyone of prominence telling him to shut up. The man who has been wrong about everything gets the full support of his party, yet President Obama can’t find enough audacity to stick up for a true change agent?

How do you expect folks to continue to go to the mat for your agenda, when you so easily sacrifice our best and brightest at the whim of an illegitimate lynch mob? How do you expect the next generation to invest themselves in the political process when they see that despite their good works, they can be taken out over nonsense, especially when the double standard is so abundantly clear? How can you ask from us what you won’t do for us? And when will you realize that you cannot negotiate with terrorists?

- Baratunde Thurston (aka Jack Turner)


Reader Comments

What’s the point of having power if you don’t use it?

This is something that I have been thinking about for a while.

Here's something for you to keep in mind. The country did not change in any substantial way between 2004 and 2008. The same electorate that elected GWB elected BHO. And the same electorate that elected GWB elected Clinton. And Reagan.

The country did not suddenly lurch left because Obama won an election. It's still center-right, and has been for a long, long time. GWB, Clinton, and GHWB were able to get legislation through because they kept in mind that no matter what they think, the country is not going to abide left or right wing experiments. (Clinton had to learn this the hard way with the first healthcare takeover adventure.)

Like it or not, GWB didn't actually get any right-wing ideas in. His one attempt was SS reform. It bombed. Clinton didn't get any left-wing ideas in.

You don't have that much power. You can nudge, but every time you shove, America is going to shove back, and America shoves a lot harder than Obama's cabal.

One more thing -- if you call someone a racist over and over when they aren't, then eventually you will turn them into a racist. If you call someone a terrorist over and over when they aren't, eventually they will decide that if they are going to get the blame, they might as well get the benefit.

Escalating the language like this is very, very dangerous. It's much more irresponsible than anything he describes, especially when we had Obama's first act of domestic terrorism (real life sabotage terrorism) carried out by a far left group in Snohomish this very weekend.

Communists are not the good guys.

“The country did not suddenly lurch left because Obama won an election. It's still center-right, and has been for a long, long time.”

It’s center-right because they are the only ones still making babies. Idiocracy anyone?

"Escalating the language like this is very, very dangerous."

Oh you mean like reinstituting the use of McCarthyism this is no better than when you and all your conservative pals made a non-issue out of an enemies list. You can’t have it both ways you understand that, right?

Let's talk McCarthyism. You know that it turned out that he was right, don't you?

In the early 90s, the KGB opened its records up. They really did have plants all over Hollywood. They really were paying people to write communist friendly scripts. In fact, McCarthy barely scratched the surface, and missed most of the plants in the actual Federal government. Do you really want to go down that road? "Whaa, they are exposing some of our communists again! Stop it!"

If you were concerned about the chilling effect Obama’s supposed enemies list generated what do you think is going to happen here.

You do know their were many people hurtby the lynch mob created by McCarthy but I guess it’s all good as long as you get to dirt some bad guys in the process.

Then again who cares about a little thing like their reputation?

Holdren is the hill you want to fight on? Really? Mr. "I'm not saying we SHOULD have death panels but we should leave the option open"?

Politics is a combat sport. The guys on the field have to be able to take a hit. Obama was trying to take the game into the stands.

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