We Used To Be So Brave…

The prologue to an old episode of This American Life highlights a successful attempt to destroy the Ku Klux Klan by making it the butt of jokes — and not an object of fear — but, in the process, shows how watered-down the rhetoric of equality has become. The episode recounts how an informant, in the 1950s, fed the popular Superman radio show material about the Klan, with the ultimate aim of making the Klan into a villain for Superman to destroy, and a mockery of itself. ]

Along the way to a final showdown, the show’s protagonists give rather stirring defenses of American values, and otherwise attack the mindless bigotry that the Klan embodies. One Klansman is mocked for saying, in a voice quaking with rage, that “we’ve got to save America from fo-o-o-oreign elements!”, while an unlikely hero shrugs off Klansmen as “poor fish who want to hate and blame someone else for their failures in life,” “little nobodies who want to believe some other race is inferior so they can feel superior,” and “jerks who go for that ‘100% American’ rot.” After all, “you must know there’s no such thing as what we call ‘100% American’!”

Good for them. But it’s disturbing that, today, those same ideas sound like left-wing propaganda. Just one year ago we concluded an election cycle where a Republican candidate dared classify parts of the country as more “American” than others, and today’s conservatives nakedly advocate racial profiling, and insist that every Muslim is per se dangerous until proven otherwise.  When did calling bigotry what it is fall out of the mainstream?

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13 comments

  1. Ohhhh…you had me. I made it to the last paragraph thinking maybe, just maybe this was a non-GOP bashing post, only to find out that as a Republican I am a racist xenophobe.

    Question: If the Left is so super smart and full of Great Ideas and the Right is so dumb and bereft of ideas, why not a few positive posts that don’t even mention the Right and just celebrate all that liberal goodness? I write dozens of pro-conservative posts per month at my blog that don’t even mention the Left. It’s not that hard Ames.

  2. Not every Republican! You make the generalizing leap that I never do.

    1. Really?

      “…today’s conservatives nakedly advocate racial profiling, and insist that every Muslim is per se dangerous until proven otherwise.”

      No modifier on that statement.

    2. It’s clearly restricted to the conservatives who actually espouse those beliefs, though, isn’t it?

      1. No, and it’s why conversations go off the rails. You had a point, but now look at your comment thread.

        (The fact that Mike does it so often, too, is why I regret some of the complimentary things I said about him when I first encountered him.)

        If you want to elevate your game you need to strive for precision PARTICULARLY in your political conversations. Or, you know, don’t…

        ~ John

        1. John – What you don’t realize is that Ames is a blogger-for-Obama before anything else. A lot of his postings are straight out of the playbook that Rahm Emanuel provided left-wing activists right after Obama won. I call him on it.

          Every blogger needs an ombudsman. Phillip H functions as mine and I guess Ames has me.

        2. Haha I dispute that. But where did I go off the rails, John?

  3. Come now, Mike. You yourself are hardly a model of restraint when it comes to the occasional rampant generalization about what “Liberals” do or think. Goose and gander.

    1. I’m not suggesting I don’t – but if I accuse liberals of being racist xenophobes you can bet i’m going to be specific.

  4. A pox on both your houses.

  5. Just out of curiosity, am I permanently modded for some reason, or are my various browsers not playing well with the blog? I feel like several comments have been eaten, and while all psychotics probably think this I don’t remember saying anything ban-worthy…

    1. Whoa. Weird. I certainly didn’t permanently mod you, but going through the files I see a few of yours. I’m approving them and trying to blanket-permit you…. thanks for telling me!!

    2. OKAY. Fixed! I think. I see several of yours passed through now, and one of Mike’s. I have NO IDEA why you triggered autospam, it was certainly never my intention.

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