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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Right Wing and Allegations of Treason

The Right Wing and Allegations of Treason

by Liviana (Giovanna L.)

Representative Jeff Duncan, a Republican from South Carolina, joins a long list of Far Right Wing Extremists in branding with the "traitor" label those perceived as "liberals":

GOP's Duncan blasts Feinstein as a "traitor"

There’s been far too much of this sort of garbage rhetoric. The week before, Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said of the torture report, “[I]t’s almost treasonous, and it borders on treasonous.”

Remember, these far-right lawmakers aren’t concerned about torture; they’re concerned with the Senate Intelligence Committee publishing a report documenting torture.

... Duncan was more direct in calling Feinstein a “traitor” – all because she had the audacity to work with her colleagues from both parties on a report documenting U.S. activities.

Duncan, by the way, is the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s oversight panel, and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s panel on counter-terrorism.
After World War I, liberals and leftists were accused of treason by Far Right Wing Extremists in Germany.  These allegations were also embraced by a certain Far Right Extremist political party in Germany, known as the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or, in brief, as the Nazi Partei.  The Nazis had a lot in common with the Far Right Wing Extremists in the United States today:

  1. Intense nationalism
  2. Pro-capitalism
  3. Anti-communism
  4. Glorification of War
  5. Appeal to Patriotism
  6. Appeal to the Middle Class
  7. Appeal to Traditional Values

Note those last three say "appeal to ..." for a very good reason, one we can find in various writings of Niccolò Machiavelli.  In Il Principe (or The Prince), he states rather plainly that it is important for a leader to seem to be religious, and says:  "Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are."  Elsewhere, he offers an observation which is astounding for its accuracy:

... perché lo universale degli uomini si pascono così di quel che pare come di quello che è: anzi, molte volte si muovono più per le cose che paiono che per quelle che sono.
-- Niccolò Machiavelli, Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, Libro Primo, Capitolo 25.

My translation:

... for the general mass of men are satisfied with appearances, as if they exist;  indeed many times they are most moved by the things which seem to be rather than by the things that are.
-- Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses on the first Ten Books of Titus Livius, Book 1, Chapter 25.

Something similar is attributed to Jesus in the sixth chapter of Matthew, verses 1-21, wherein is stated that those who pretend piety publicly in order to win the respect of other humans have only the reward of such human respect, but those who are pious in secret will have a heavenly reward.

Making an appeal to patriotism is not the same thing as being patriotic;  it means that the one making the appeal is exploiting the patriotism of those he or she seeks to influence.

Making an appeal to traditional values does not necessarily mean that the one making the appeal agrees with those values, but rather that he or she is willing to exploit the beliefs of those who do in an effort to influence them.  Accompanying this tactic is a not-very-subtle insistence that anything which challenges those beliefs is somehow disloyal and should be silenced, which is of course a practice antithetical to any free society.

Promising tax relief to the middle class while giving massive cuts to the upper class -- well, we need not even point out that the small cuts in income tax were subject to compensation by other taxes on the middle class, nor point the finger at the absurd government bailouts of mega-corporations and mega-banks which began, it must be stressed, under the administration of George W. Bush, even though Obama is subjected to the blame game by these Far Right Wing Extremists who never admit that their own party is equally guilty, and in fact endorsed such acts until they were done by a member of an opposition party (which, you know, is kind of par for the course;  Republicans railing against Democrats for things they themselves have done, or would have done in the same position -- and vice-versa, let it be stated, for the Democrats have likewise contributed to this fallacious polarization in the American political climate, albeit not so eagerly as have the Republicans).  Let me just say that the Far Right cares nothing for the middle class, except insofar as they can exploit the emotions, values, and needs of the middle class in order to obtain, or maintain, political power.

Tied into many of these features is the practice of scapegoating as a means of misdirection.  Blaming homosexuals for an alleged "moral decline," blaming Jews for economic woes, blaming immigrants for "taking jobs" (usually jobs nobody wants), blaming labor unions for economic woes, blaming "liberals" and "leftists" for publicizing the criminal acts of Far Right Wing Extremists, ... the list goes on.  And of course, always with the intent of diverting the attention of the public from issues which are actually relevant and important.  "Let's make an amendment to the Constitution in order to 'protect the flag', a symbolic gesture easy to rally the masses, rather than addressing issues which are more challenging to solve, and more pressing."  Or "Let's try President Clinton for getting a blowjob in the Oval Office instead of taking on the more challenging and more important business of making laws to better our nation and improve the living conditions of our citizens."  Or "Let's sue Obama for making health care insurance available to all, rather than addressing the appalling state of education in the nation."  Or any of a number of other examples.

Indeed, to accuse a patriot of being a traitor is the most outrageous of such obfuscations.  While I disagree with Senator Feinstein on many questions, her actions in bringing this information to the public, while embarrassing for American citizens, is the act of a patriot, and not a traitor.  Anyone who loves America ought to be tenacious in rooting out the rot which would turn our Democratic Federal Republic into what it has historically fought with the blood and tears of our people.  Our nation took part in prosecuting those guilty of crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg Trials and on other occasions.  Such crimes ought never to besmirch the reputation of America, but if they have been committed by Americans in the name of America, then we must admit as much to the world, and those responsible need to be held accountable in our own legal system.  Such admission and prosecution are the only way forward.  Those who would put their party or their ideology above the good of the nation are themselves far more worthy of the appellation of "traitor."  I'm talking about you, "Representative" Duncan.

See further:

Fascism Anyone?

If conservatives really, really hate being called fascists ... #5

I got slimed by Rush: The real story of how Stephen Colbert schooled Limbaugh on U.S. history, patriotism

Stab-in-the-back legend

Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince and the Political Utility of Religion

Platform of the National-Socialist German Workers' Party (1933)
(Note point number 23 in particular, wherein the Nazis say:
"We demand laws against trends in art and literature which have a destructive effect on our national life, and the suppression of performances that offend against the above requirements."
It does sound very familiar, does it not?)

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