My former friend, Bob, routinely focused on enemies – real or imagined. I call him “friend” only in the sense I was obligated to represent him on several occasions, not that we held any true amiable relationship. At work, he was a trouble-maker from the word "GO." Union reps aptly classified Bob as “high-maintenance” due to the fact they were regularly called to mediate many altercations for which he was central.
One afternoon Bob and I were having lunch at my favorite restaurant when he abruptly noticed a woman across the room laughing – seated perhaps 75 feet away. Unfortunately, Bob didn’t simply notice but made a loud protest to the waitress that if the staff didn’t shut the lady up, he’d walk out and never come back. It was a scene from hell. The woman on the far side of the restaurant was actually not loud at all. But something triggered Bob – I know not what to this day.
Bob continued his rant, "Look at her! Isn't she disgusting? If they don’t shut-her-up soon, I'm going to walk over and shut her up myself," Bob threatened.
I responded, "Now, Bob, she's way over there and nobody else seems bothered. So, why should you?"
"Well, it just makes me mad. We shouldn't have to put up with people like that," he argued.
It wasn't just the case of the loud, somewhat obnoxious female, because on other occasions at restaurants he would become embroiled over a group of college students, athletes, cell phones, or simply a waitress with her hair out of place. Bob never focused on the good, only the bad. Meals were never pleasant in his company.
This is an example, in my opinion, of the way Republicans behave. They MUST have an enemy to justify their existence. If there's not one at present, they've got to make one up or cultivate animosity towards nations that traditionally harbor a measure of ill-will against the U.S. in normal circumstances. Maybe they don’t necessarily have to produce them out of thin air, they simply inflame them. Domestic enemies too. They treat Democrats with as much hostility as terrorists or communists.
If it's not Afghanistan, it's Iraq. If it's not Iraq [after it finally settles to a measure of stability], it’ll be Iran or Libya or Syria or Venezuela or God-only-knows-where-else. Truly, it’s a bully mentality on steroids.
Republicans are like my former friend who always felt compelled to zero in on an enemy or a shortcoming someplace perceived in some stranger or group of unknowns. Republicans are barking dogs with nothing better to do than notice anything out of the ordinary which activates a constant yelping directed toward superficial enemies. And unfortunately, the right is equipped with a vicious bite. Apparently, it is their purpose for being. If their enemy doesn’t actually exist, they create a straw-man.
Domestically it’s the “War on Christmas” or “death panels” or “Obamacare” or “violent Muslims” that Republicans zero in on. Everything’s a war with warmongers. Then Democrats are tossed into the mix with no distinction between foreign terrorists and liberal neighbors. Republican hate is shared by all – somewhat like spreading revulsion around equally (socialized enemies’ list).
Equalized hate has a source: Rightwing Christian fundamentalism – which dominates the party. Their worldview demands they see in unflinching black and white absolutism – with God on one side and Satan on the other with no shades between. Therefore, Democrats – if not strictly aligned with fundamentalist doctrine – are of the devil and, thus, conspiring with related enemies and terrorists to destroy their cherished but distorted view of America and its revised history conforming to their worldview. The cry “I want my country back” not only has racial undertones (given we have a Black president) but religious.
I must tell you; it was no fun lunching with Bob. And no longer is it fun living in an America strongly influenced by a rabid right-wing cultivating hostility around the world – both domestic and foreign – just because it’s in their bully-nature to do so. On several occasions managers were called to settle some grievance Bob instigated involving another customer at an eating establishment – before I finally gave up on him. (I was about as slow as Obama in realizing I could never change the guy by sound reason and counsel). It was embarrassing. Bullies are the same in that regard – including whole movements like the Tea Party that’s taken full possession of the GOP.
Republicans are spoiling for a fight. Without that prime function, they are but castaways. It's in their nature to act up, provoke or imagine enemies, then vilify them with their hateful rhetoric. Their leading consultants, Frank Luntz and Karl Rove, are paid millions to conceive derogatory language to pleasurize the base and demonize Democrats at the same time.
Have you ever had a friend or acquaintance acting as such? You can predict what they'll do next. Pretty soon you'll be scouting out restaurants to pinpoint your Bob’s probable targets. It's like a game, albeit an excruciating one. I became an expert at identifying the next victim.
The rest of the patrons not acquainted with Bob were naturally neutral in the ensuing conflict like it was an isolated incident. Or that both sides somehow were equally at fault. Little did they know. To view the incidents fairly, one would have to know Bob like I did with his hostile past – his patterns of discontent – to come to an accurate assessment.
The same is true for the uninformed and misinformed in America. If they only knew the true nature of the instigator, calamities could have been avoided or averted. Maybe Tucson could have been prevented if American media was courageous enough to expose right-wing hate-speech. Iraq never would have happened if America knew the truth; neither would financial ruin.
The US media, in its attempt to be “fair,” refuses to recognize “Bob’s” (Republicans’) past practice and modus operandi. It would like to put both parties on an equal footing when discussing hateful rhetoric leading to violence. “False equivalency” it’s now codified universally as a result of the abusive media practice. In that way, the media is the naïve restaurant manager that fails to recognize Bob as the source of hostility but pins half the blame on innocent customers just to look “fair and balanced.” There’s nothing “fair” about dishonesty. Responsible leadership takes everything into account, then bases solutions on facts. A bully is a bully, and the Republican Party is America’s bully. To see it any other way is dishonest and irresponsible.
Now Republicans are going after teachers, custodians, road crews, union workers, Planned Parenthood, NPR, aliens, and millions more Americans. The targets are all in Karl Rove and Frank Luntz’s playbook to weaken the Democratic Party, thus winning future elections for Republicans. Koch brothers Charles and David – plus several other billionaires – are funding the fall of America by funneling millions through Rove and Luntz for their war on workers. It is incredible. They are going for the jugular. Tax cuts for billionaires, pink slips to the working poor and filthy streets for the homeless. Concentrating all wealth at the top while raping the bottom is the name of their game. That’s exactly where we are.
One would think their strategy inconceivable. But the religious right, again, has made their efforts possible to destroy unions and low wage-earners, because equating Democrats with the devil (since they refuse to adhere to fundamentalism) means many workers vote against their own best interests.
The terrible trend continues. The right is spoiling for a fight and will have its wish fulfilled if left unchecked, and it’ll remain unchecked if American media continues its false equivalency game and the evangelical movement continues to spread like a mesmerized cult.