Mangling history, defending plutocracy and…launching a coup?
There’s scarcely a week that goes by these days in which the average, reasonably sane American doesn’t find him or herself marveling at just how far the modern far right is willing to push the envelope in its ever-more-desperate attempt to resist progress and modernity.
“They wouldn’t say (or do) that” goes the thinking – a sentiment that is frequently followed by the reaction: “Hold cow, I guess they would!”
North Carolinians were treated to such an episode a few weeks back when a staffer at the Pope-Civitas Institute – the supposedly nonpartisan nonprofit funded almost exclusively by the family foundation of North Carolina’s most important conservative political funder, state Budget Director Art Pope – authored a truly delusional little essay in which she attempted to argue that modern progressives are the political and intellectual heirs of late 19th Century white supremacists.
We’re not making this up. According to the author, some of the racist Democrats who led the infamous Wilmington insurrection of 1898 and who forcibly displaced the “Fusion” alliance of newly-freed African-Americans and white Republicans in turn-of-the-century North Carolina used the label “progressive.” Therefore, according to the comically crude “logic,” modern day Democrats and progressives are cut from the same cloth.
“North Carolina’s liberals/leftists must always work to distance themselves from their movement’s ugly roots: racism and bare-knuckle politics. Today’s liberals attempt to brand the White Supremacy Campaign as a conservative movement, but its leaders and members were mostly known Progressives. That’s also why today’s liberals gloss over the fact that during the era of segregation Democrats totally dominated the state.”
It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at such absurdly vacuous “analysis” that crudely elevates fungible labels like “Democrat,” “Republican,” “conservative,” “progressive” and “liberal” over the reality of human behavior. That the argument is advanced by a group that championed repeal of the Racial Justice Act, whose community all but worships one of the 20th Century’s most infamous and unrepentant race-baiting politicians and that has close ties to the people who attacked a modern day progressive white politician by distributing a photo of him with darkened skin and wearing a photo-shopped sombrero makes it all the more pathetic.
Suffice it to say that if the racist “Democrats” of 1898 were somehow able to return to life in 2014 North Carolina, they’d have no trouble figuring out where to fit into the modern policy debate.
Prevaricating about the present
And speaking of embarrassingly crude and ham-fisted Pope-Civitas pap, the group sent out an email this week touting an essay from another staffer in which he attempts, unsuccessfully, to lambaste the progressive income tax. The email is entitled “Liberals Don’t Think You Should Keep What You Earn” and features a photo of a hooded thief in black making a grab for the wallet of an unsuspecting preppy pedestrian. How’s that for keeping it classy?
Of course, coming from the same people who attacked the Moral Monday movement by attempting to dub it “Money Monday” and claiming that the NAACP and other groups behind the protests are motivated by a desire to line their own pockets, such scurrilous language and images come as little surprise.
As with the embarrassing history lesson described above, however, the great irony of the attack on progressive taxation is that it misses its mark by a full 180 degrees. The point of progressive taxation, of course, is to assure that average working people keep more of what they earn by not having to pay regressive sales and excise taxes to fund government or purchasing services (e.g. education) that can and should be provided to all members of the public. Indeed, in a time of metastasizing inequality and exploding wealth and incomes for the top 1%, the notion that even a single wealthy North Carolinian has ever been harmed in the slightest (or “penalized” as the article claims) by the modestly progressive income tax that the state had had in place for the last several decades is as ridiculous as the email that touted the article.
The fringe goes off the deep end
Finally, speaking of true intellectual heirs; some crazy cousins of the Tea Partying far right plan to take things to a rather remarkable next level of insanity today. As reported yesterday on Talking Points Memo and other national websites, a group operating under the banner “Operation Patriot Spring” plans to invade the nation’s capital today. Again, we are not making this up.
The group, which appears to have a presence in North Carolina (click here and here), plans to bring 10 million people to Washington to occupy the capital and physically arrest and try President Obama, Vice President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Reid, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, House Speaker Boehner, House Minority Leader Pelosi and Attorney General Holder. Their supposed ultimate goal: “to restore constitutional government, the rule of law, freedom, and liberty.” The fun is supposed to start today.
And while such lunacy – however treasonous – can be easily dismissed as the ravings of mentally disturbed people, it’s worth noting that the ideology espoused is not so far removed from what now passes for “mainstream” conservatism in some parts. A classic case in point is the recent North Carolina Republican primary for U.S. Senate in which the second place finisher (a man endorsed by one of the most visible current sitting senators in the country) co-sponsored an event last year entitled “Nullify Now!” at which avowed secessionists and others who deny the authority of the federal government participated.
So, while it seems safe to say that the President and other national leaders are likely to avoid “arrest” at the hands of “patriots” in the coming days, we would all probably do well to pay more attention to these nuts and to demand that responsible conservative leaders condemn them instead of playing political footsy.