Yesterday, I looked at the not-so-fringe, "Kill ‘em all. Let Allah sort ‘em out." crowd. The kind that conservative talkers and columnists keep hopped up on righteous rage. But I gave only a couple of examples: bloggers, right-wing spam, and a columnist (plus others in the links).
But are their views picked up by, or a reflection of, people in the heartland? People you might know? They certainly have a faithful audience. You decide.
In the mid-90s I worked in an office (South Carolina) where dittohead designers listened to Rush Limbaugh at their desks every afternoon. And again the next morning.
The chief dittohead recorded Rush's show every afternoon and used a low-power FM transmitter to re-broadcast the previous day's show to fellow dittoheads around the building the next morning -- to prime their anger for the live show in the afternoon.
In 2005 I worked alongside two older Bush supporters I called the “Hard Corps.” Solid, ordinary, responsible, hard-working middle-class Americans. NewsMax and Federalist newsletter-reading, FoxNews watching, Bill O'Reilly fans and Ann Coulter groupies. Even other conservatives in the office rolled their eyes at these guys.
One was a crusty sixty-something from the mid-Atlantic, Catholic, a Korean War veteran and self-described “right wing fascist.” Several times a day he’d break the silence by muttering, “Off with their heads!”
He admires Franco’s Spain. Order. With Franco in charge, he said, unless you were a criminal or a homosexual or a communist, you had nothing to worry about.
He thinks Americans with concerns about the Patriot Act or NSA surveillance are traitors.
"So why do you keep your PIN number secret?" I asked.
“Like I said, unless you’re a criminal or a terrorist you got nothing to worry about.”
"How about surveillance for political dirty tricks?" I suggested.
"Only scumbag Democrats do that kind of thing."
I mentioned that Karl Rove was known for them. Once in race for the Alabama Supreme Court, he printed up nasty, anonymous flyers slamming his own client (who was behind in the race at the time). They rolled them up like newspapers. Then he had assistants borrow cars so they couldn’t be traced back to the campaign, and they flung them onto people’s walks in the middle of the night. The backlash was immediate and against their opponent, who of course got blamed for it. Karl’s client won.
“Where’d you read that?” he asked.
“The Atlanta paper?”
“Atlantic magazine,” I repeated.
“That’s published in New England isn’t it? You might as well be reading Pravda.”
When he heard that the ANWAR bill got blocked in the Senate, he said, “No more mister nice guy. You know, Uncle Joe (Stalin) wouldn’t stand for this crap. He knew how to take care of people like this.”
“Let me tell you something," he said to another guy. "You know what’s wrong with this country? Liberals are ruthless and conservatives have no balls.”
But he loves old movies, is a Star Wars fanatic, and has read all the Star Wars books.
"One thing I can't understand," he puzzled. "The Jedi have all this power, and yet they let the Empire walk all over them."
He avoids movies by liberal actor-activists (whom he despises). He came in just before Christmas humming and whistling the anti-war “Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by John Lennon. (I couldn’t ruin it for him.)
After the Senate voted 90-9 that October to ban torture of prisoners in U.S. custody, he waved a blog article denouncing the bill. “Lawyers’ words!” he spat, and denounced civilian control of the military.
America has engaged in torture? Good.
Those who say we shouldn’t? Weak. Socialists.
And the innocent? What innocent?
He has a growing list of those who deserve to be shot. Kerry, Kennedy, Biden, anybody who stands in President Bush’s way.
“Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton. Communists, both of them.”
Then he calls his daughter and talks baby talk to his tiny grandson. “What a great kid!” he smiles upon hanging up.
His friend (from South Carolina; Baptist, I think) comes by and shares right-wing news flashes and articles that they talk about in hushed tones.
"These people" (Democrats/liberals), he says, have no principles, and they will stop at nothing to get their way and bring down this country.
Regarding Bill O'Reilly's war on Christmas, the ACLU, Target stores and “Happy Holidays,” etc., they were livid. “South Carolina” suggested that if decent, god-fearing people really care about this country, they should act. They’d be firebombing Target stores.
In his thick accent he decried the fact that when coworkers put up newspapers at the urinals, what do they put up? The sports page. The problem with this country, he says, is people (voters) are just too stupid to realize what is going on. Al Qaeda cells are in this country right now, he is convinced. More attacks are on the way.
“This is a war. We are in a holy war. And people in this country had better wake up. Mark my words, we are going to see blood in the streets.”
I wasn't sure if he meant a war against al Qaeda or Americans at war against each other.
Fortunately, at their age they are all bluster and no action. Only dangerous in a mob, a friend says.
Note to self: Avoid mobs.