Thursday, January 13, 2011

Culture of Paranoia

I really liked Harold Meyerson's insightful column in the Washington Post yesterday, Dangerous Outcomes From A Culture of Paranoia.  Meyerson cites Glenn Beck, who expressed the fear on his radio show that government officials will seize his children if he doesn't get them flu shots.  Then Meyerson quotes Erick Erickson, of the conservative RedState Blog and a CNN commentator, in the context of questioning the legality of the Census Bureau, stating the we are "becoming, enslaved by the government," and announcing he would flash a shotgun at census workers if he is threatened with jail for failing to comply with the census. 

Meyerson argues that "to dwell on the rise of violent rhetoric on the right is to miss an even bigger, though connected, problem."  As he puts it:  "The primary problem with the political discourse of the right in today's America isn't that it incites violence per se.  It's that it implants and reinforces paranoid fears about the government and conservatism's domestic adversaries."  Meyerson explains that "much of the culture and thinking of the American right - the mainstream as well as the fringe - has descended into paranoid suppositions about the government, the Democrats and the president."

Thus, "as much of the right sees it, the government is planning to incarcerate its enemies, socialize the economy and take away everyone's guns.  While Beck, Erickson and their cohorts may not be responsible for the shooting in Tuscon, as Meyerson contends, they are "responsible for promoting a paranoid culture that makes America a more divided and dangerous land."

[Related posts: Tragic and Inevitable]


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