Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
Dynamics
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's

 |  HOME  |  WEB LOG  |  COUNTRY WIKI  |  COMMENT  |  FORUM  |  DOWNLOADS  |  ABOUT  | 

Generational Dynamics Web Log for 7-Nov-2010
American xenophobia on the Left and on the Right

Web Log - November, 2010

American xenophobia on the Left and on the Right

Both the loony left and the loony right are damaging America

American xenophobia on the Left and on the Right

The security and success of any nation depends on the support and loyalty of the population. During a generational Crisis era, the outmoded ideas of the previous Awakening era stop working, and a desperate public begin to turn away from moderation toward extremism, as I discussed recently in "3-Nov-10 News -- The political realignment continues."

Over the years, I've been extremely critical of the nihilism and destructiveness of the loony left, including the mainstream media. However, I've been criticized for not giving equal time to criticisms of the loony right.

My response to such criticisms was that I have nothing to contribute by criticizing the lunacy on the right, since even the slightest aberration on the right is criticized overwhelmingly by the mainstream media. It's this imbalance in the mainstream media that means that I've had something to contribute by criticizing the loony left, but little to contribute by criticizing the loony right.

In recent months, some things have changed:

With regard to the last point, the index of my BigPeace articles can be found here. If you look through these articles, pay particular attention to the comments to the articles that were posted in September and October, 2010. (In subsequent articles, the web site administrators began deleting the most offensive comments.) (Paragraph updated - 17-Nov)

In this essay, I'd like to compare the attitudes of far right xenophobes and far left xenophobes. I've found them to be very similar in attitudes and techniques, differing only in their choice of targets.

Particular similarities between the right and left wing xenophobes include nihilistic, destructive and self-destructive attitudes that are typical of many Generation-Xers who have spent their lives hating Boomers. I can't be sure that all the right wing xenophobes that I've encountered were in Generation-X, but they appear to share those characteristics.

Other similarities between the far left and far right xenophobes include their contempt for American ideals and American armed forces. They pay lip service, of course, but their attitudes and recommendations are extremely destructive and nihilistic, once again fitting the Generation-X paradigm.

The view from the loony right

In one of my early articles on BigPeace, I wrote about the disastrous floods in Pakistan, and I was quite shocked at what I saw in the comments. In the comments to that and subsequent articles, I saw things like the following (paraphrasing):

Long-time readers of this web site know how contemptuous I am of people who say stupid and loony things, especially bankers, politicians and journalists. But these are some of the stupidest and looniest comments I've ever seen. Quite honestly, these views are so deviant that I'm tempted to see them as almost psychotic.

And yet, and yet, these xenophobic views are apparently held by a tiny but growing segment of the population, so it's worthwhile to take them seriously to the extent of trying to make sense out of them, to put together a kind of semi-abstract world model in which their views make some sense, even while they make no sense in the real world.

The world view of the xenophobic right

The people in the xenophobic right believe that ordinary Muslims of the world will produce murder, mayhem and misery, and will impose Sharia law on the United States unless they're stopped. How do they believe that will come about?

It can't come about by popular vote, so it would have to come about through war -- either a massive uprising or by an external war from some Muslim country, say Pakistan or Iran or Saudi Arabia.

In the times that I've tried to engage these people, to see their reactions, I've pointed out to them that the real threat of external war is coming from China, not Saudi Arabia, but they seem to discount that threat. If they discount a military threat from China, then surely they can't believe that the United States faces an existential threat from any Mideast country.

The only scenario I can think of that seems to plausibly fit their world view is a worldwide uprising of Muslims, who will turn on Christians and Jews in the same way that the Hutus turned on the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, or the Christians turned on the Muslims in Bosnia in 1995.

This makes no sense logically, but it may make sense in a purely visceral, emotional sense, so let's examine it further.

The Rwandan and Bosnian genocide scenarios do not fit the current American scenario in two important ways. First, those genocides occurred in very small regions. And second, those genocides occurred as the climaxes of several years of civil war, punctuated by peace agreements along the way.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the only way that this kind of genocide can occur is as the climax of a generational crisis war, and there is no war going on between ordinary Muslim and non-Muslim Americans. You can point to isolated incidents of violence, including the Fort Hood shooting and the 9/11 attacks, but there's no identity group formation around those attacks, which are abhorred by many Muslims.

Still, the "worldwide Muslim uprising" model is probably the best attempt at a world view model of the xenophobic right that I can come up with.

Historic comparisons to the 'Worldwide Muslim Uprising' model

I've tried to think of historical examples that might justify the visceral fear of the "Worldwide Muslim Uprising" model, but they're hard to find.

In 1919, following the Bolshevik Revolution, there was a "Red Scare," a widespread fear of a Communist attack on the United States. Attorney General Palmer initiated the "Palmer Raids," jailing hundreds of known or suspected communists. The threat of a communist rebellion and civil war amounted to nothing, and the whole thing was a political fiasco.

Many right-wingers refer to Muslims as the "new Nazis." But even the Nazi example provides a poor historical analogy.

During World War II, thousands of Japanese Americans and German Americans were arrested and put into internment camps. However, relative to the American population, the German American population was huge, and so the overwhelming majority of German Americans were not interred. Nonetheless, the German Americans did not rise up and kill Americans in sympathy with their Nazi brethren in the Vaterland. Instead, they fought WITH Americans against the Nazis. And of course Albert Einstein, who developed the nuclear technology that won the war against the Japanese, was a German-American who helped America. (Paragraph corrected - 7-Nov)

There were isolated incidents of violence by German-Americans and Japanese-Americans during World War II, but the visceral fears of a massive uprising, such as the fears currently held by the xenophobic right, did not materialize in any sense.

As I've written many times, we're headed for a "Clash of Civilizations" world war, pitted against the Chinese and Sunni Muslim countries. My expectation is that, with the exception of isolated incidents of violence, Chinese-Americans and Muslim-Americans will be loyal to America, and will not rise up en masse, in the way that the Hutus rose up and slaughtered the Tutsies.

Should we start an internment program for Muslims, like the ones for Germans and Japanese during World War II? Presumably the far right xenophobes who believe that all Muslims should be deported would agree with such a policy.

What most people don't realize is that we've already had an internment program for Muslims. Following 9/11, there was a massive jailing of Muslims. 800-1000 Muslims were locked up for many months with no more serious charge than a minor visa violation. They were allowed to have lawyers, but the government was to be permitted to listen in on their conversations with their lawyers. Here's a BBC story from 2001 describing the internment program.

There are other examples of xenophobic panic -- the Salem Witch Trials and the aftermath of Orson Welle's 1938 radio show, War of the Worlds, come to mind.

But none of the examples that come to mind fit the "Worldwide Muslim Uprising" model, or even a more narrow "National Muslim Uprising" model.

We can also look at other examples of religious terrorism where there wasn't xenophobia. A good modern example is the IRA terrorism that was prevalent until the early 2000s. This was essentially a religious war between Protestants and Catholics, and yet no responsible person would recommend allowing Protestant mothers to drown, or Catholic mothers to drown, or Irish mothers to drown.

The loony left and the Tea Party

The pathological hatred that the loony right exhibits towards Muslims is an almost exact mirror image of the pathological hatred that the loony left exhibits towards the Tea Party.

If you want to find loony left views that correspond to loony right views like, "Muslims canít produce anything on their own other than mayhem, murder, and misery," or "The vast majority of Muslims around the world are supportive of rape and murder," then you can look, for example, to an MSNBC interview by Keith Olbermann of Jeaneane Garofalo, transcribed by Newsbusters in April, 2009.

Olbermann began with, "Well, the teabagging is all over, except for the cleanup," saying that the Tea Party was losing popularity, and would be dead soon. He introduced Garofalo, who said:

"[T]here's nothing more interesting than seeing a bunch of racists become confused and angry at a speech they're not quite certain what he's saying. It sounds right and then it doesn't make sense. Which, let's be very honest about what this is about. It's not about bashing Democrats, it's not about taxes, they have no idea what the Boston tea party was about, they don't know their history at all. This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up. That is nothing but a bunch of teabagging rednecks. And there is no way around that. And you know, you can tell these type of right wingers anything and they'll believe it, except the truth. You tell them the truth and they become -- it's like showing Frankenstein's monster fire. They become confused, and angry and highly volatile. That guy, causing them feelings they don't know, because their limbic brain, we've discussed this before, the limbic brain inside a right-winger or Republican or conservative or your average white power activist, the limbic brain is much larger in their head space than in a reasonable person, and it's pushing against the frontal lobe. So their synapses are misfiring."

Garofalo is essentially saying, "Tea Partiers (teabaggers) canít produce anything on their own other than mayhem, murder, and misery."

The loony left attitudes are almost identical to the attitudes that the loony right have towards Muslims except, of course, for the targets. There's the same pathological hatred, the same extremely deviant world view, and the same abusive attitudes.

However, there's one very big difference: People on the loony left generally use their real names, while people on the loony right generally do not.

Garafalo is garbage, but she's the left's garbage, and so she's widely quoted on the mainstream media. Garafalo can openly display her hatred, racism, xenophobia and abusive behavior without paying a price, because she's on the left.

But people on the loony right can't do that. Instead, they use phony names like "BronxZionist" or "ObamaYoMoma" for the same reason that KKK activists used to wear sheets over their heads -- so that they could display their hatred, racism, xenophobia and abusive behavior without being identified and forced to pay a price.

The nihilism and destructiveness of Generation-X

I've written a lot about how disaffected and alienated Generation-Xers feel toward American society, largely because they spent their lives being discriminated against in favor of Boomers. This has resulted in a nihilism, destructiveness and self-destructiveness that I've written about many times. (See for example "The nihilism and self-destructiveness of Generation X.")

In 2007, people in the loony left were demanding that funding be withdrawn from American troops in Iraq. They paid lip service to supporting the troops, but in actual practice they were siding with the terrorists in Iraq. I viewed much of what they said, including what was said by the New York Times and NBC News, as close to treason, and continue to hold that view today.

The people on the loony right are the same. They advocate such things as drowning or deportation of ordinary Muslims, and in doing so they express contempt for American society and ideals, and they provide a recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists. It's quite possible that the loony right have gotten American soldiers killed. What's clear is that they're as destructive to American society as the loony left are.

People like Jeaneane Garofalo and "BronxZionist" are almost identical and indistinguishable. They're like negative infinity and positive infinity which, in some branches of mathematics, eventually meet with one another and become identical. If al-Qaeda had a program to install undercover terrorists into American society, they couldn't do any better than these two.

However, it's well to remember that America is very cruel to extremists.

The loony left were enormously humiliated and disgraced when the "surge" in Iraq succeeded.

And now the left have been enormously humiliated and disgraced once more, when the Tea Party not only didn't die out, but proved to be a major factor in the 2010 elections.

Now that the Tea Party has been so successful, it's my expectation that the loony right will become more prominent in the movement. And it's also my expectation that the loony right will be enormously humiliated and disgraced within a few years.

The repudiation of mainstream news

The above quotes from Olbermann and Garofalo contain the vile epithet "teabagger" with reference to Tea Party members. I wrote about this epithet 18 months ago in "Vile 'teabagging' jokes signal the deterioration of CNN and NBC news."

I watch Howard Kurtz's CNN show "Reliable Sources" every week, and he frequently comments on his bafflement that people are listening to Fox rather than CNN. And yet I've never heard him comment on the connection between the "teabag" epithet and the shift in news ratings.

In the article referenced above, I quoted CNN's Anderson Cooper as referring to the Tea Party by saying, "It's hard to talk when you're teabagging," to howls of laughter from the other CNN correspondents, including David Gergen.

Now, Anderson Cooper and David Gergen are leading CNN correspondents.

Suppose Anderson Cooper had used the "N-word" in reference to Jesse Jackson, and then David Gergen howled with laughter.

Or suppose David Gergen had used the "N-word" in reference to an NAACP event, and then he and Anderson Cooper had giggled about it.

If those events had happened, then how many blacks would be listening to CNN today?

The reason that people are leaving the mainstream media in droves is that they freely use the equivalent of the "N-word" in descriptions of a large segment of the American population.

Mainstream reporters like Anderson Cooper and David Gergen exhibit exactly the kind of hatred, racism, xenophobia and abusive behavior that I was describing above of the loony left and the loony right. The only thing that's surprising is that the media reporter, Howard Kurtz, doesn't appear to have a clue about this.

What constitutes xenophobia toward Muslims?

The rise in worldwide xenophobia of all forms is very alarming, and it's a panicked response to the failure of Awakening era ideas to work any more.

There are many commentators who want to maintain journalistic integrity in their writings without being racist or xenophobic, at a time when the world fears terrorist attacks from Muslims. What's the dividing line?

I have to deal with this problem all the time. In recent weeks, I've written about planned terrorist attacks in Europe and America, perpetrated by everyone from Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

What I do, and what every legitimate commentator and journalist must do, is sharply distinguish between ordinary Muslims and Islamist terrorists, just as you would distinguish between ordinary Irishmen and IRA terrorists.

Because the facts are that such a sharp distinction exists. Each month, I read thousands of news articles from media of every country and every point of view around the world, and what's clear over and over is that the biggest worldwide enemies of Islamist terrorists are the ordinary Muslims. Even anti-American Pakistanis who want Americans to go home do not particularly wish us harm; they blame the violence they're suffering on al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorism, and they blame Americans for energizing the terrorists. That's why the Islamist terrorists kill many, many times more ordinary Muslims than they do Europeans or Americans.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the American xenophobia on the Left and on the Right thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Nov-2010) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

Web Log Pages

Current Web Log

Web Log Summary - 2016
Web Log Summary - 2015
Web Log Summary - 2014
Web Log Summary - 2013
Web Log Summary - 2012
Web Log Summary - 2011
Web Log Summary - 2010
Web Log Summary - 2009
Web Log Summary - 2008
Web Log Summary - 2007
Web Log Summary - 2006
Web Log Summary - 2005
Web Log Summary - 2004

Web Log - December, 2016
Web Log - November, 2016
Web Log - October, 2016
Web Log - September, 2016
Web Log - August, 2016
Web Log - July, 2016
Web Log - June, 2016
Web Log - May, 2016
Web Log - April, 2016
Web Log - March, 2016
Web Log - February, 2016
Web Log - January, 2016
Web Log - December, 2015
Web Log - November, 2015
Web Log - October, 2015
Web Log - September, 2015
Web Log - August, 2015
Web Log - July, 2015
Web Log - June, 2015
Web Log - May, 2015
Web Log - April, 2015
Web Log - March, 2015
Web Log - February, 2015
Web Log - January, 2015
Web Log - December, 2014
Web Log - November, 2014
Web Log - October, 2014
Web Log - September, 2014
Web Log - August, 2014
Web Log - July, 2014
Web Log - June, 2014
Web Log - May, 2014
Web Log - April, 2014
Web Log - March, 2014
Web Log - February, 2014
Web Log - January, 2014
Web Log - December, 2013
Web Log - November, 2013
Web Log - October, 2013
Web Log - September, 2013
Web Log - August, 2013
Web Log - July, 2013
Web Log - June, 2013
Web Log - May, 2013
Web Log - April, 2013
Web Log - March, 2013
Web Log - February, 2013
Web Log - January, 2013
Web Log - December, 2012
Web Log - November, 2012
Web Log - October, 2012
Web Log - September, 2012
Web Log - August, 2012
Web Log - July, 2012
Web Log - June, 2012
Web Log - May, 2012
Web Log - April, 2012
Web Log - March, 2012
Web Log - February, 2012
Web Log - January, 2012
Web Log - December, 2011
Web Log - November, 2011
Web Log - October, 2011
Web Log - September, 2011
Web Log - August, 2011
Web Log - July, 2011
Web Log - June, 2011
Web Log - May, 2011
Web Log - April, 2011
Web Log - March, 2011
Web Log - February, 2011
Web Log - January, 2011
Web Log - December, 2010
Web Log - November, 2010
Web Log - October, 2010
Web Log - September, 2010
Web Log - August, 2010
Web Log - July, 2010
Web Log - June, 2010
Web Log - May, 2010
Web Log - April, 2010
Web Log - March, 2010
Web Log - February, 2010
Web Log - January, 2010
Web Log - December, 2009
Web Log - November, 2009
Web Log - October, 2009
Web Log - September, 2009
Web Log - August, 2009
Web Log - July, 2009
Web Log - June, 2009
Web Log - May, 2009
Web Log - April, 2009
Web Log - March, 2009
Web Log - February, 2009
Web Log - January, 2009
Web Log - December, 2008
Web Log - November, 2008
Web Log - October, 2008
Web Log - September, 2008
Web Log - August, 2008
Web Log - July, 2008
Web Log - June, 2008
Web Log - May, 2008
Web Log - April, 2008
Web Log - March, 2008
Web Log - February, 2008
Web Log - January, 2008
Web Log - December, 2007
Web Log - November, 2007
Web Log - October, 2007
Web Log - September, 2007
Web Log - August, 2007
Web Log - July, 2007
Web Log - June, 2007
Web Log - May, 2007
Web Log - April, 2007
Web Log - March, 2007
Web Log - February, 2007
Web Log - January, 2007
Web Log - December, 2006
Web Log - November, 2006
Web Log - October, 2006
Web Log - September, 2006
Web Log - August, 2006
Web Log - July, 2006
Web Log - June, 2006
Web Log - May, 2006
Web Log - April, 2006
Web Log - March, 2006
Web Log - February, 2006
Web Log - January, 2006
Web Log - December, 2005
Web Log - November, 2005
Web Log - October, 2005
Web Log - September, 2005
Web Log - August, 2005
Web Log - July, 2005
Web Log - June, 2005
Web Log - May, 2005
Web Log - April, 2005
Web Log - March, 2005
Web Log - February, 2005
Web Log - January, 2005
Web Log - December, 2004
Web Log - November, 2004
Web Log - October, 2004
Web Log - September, 2004
Web Log - August, 2004
Web Log - July, 2004
Web Log - June, 2004


Copyright © 2002-2016 by John J. Xenakis.