This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.
I didn't read or watch much of the coverage of Glenn Beck's rally in Washington yesterday. It wasn't necessary. We've seen it all before, countless times - during Obama's election campaign, at Tea Party gatherings, at Sarah Palin appearances and on FOX broadcasts. It's a crawly underside of America that was once confined to Klan rallies.
It was America at its very worst, America both fearful and angry. The American Right have become masters at using the toxic brew of fear and anger to manipulate their supporters. It speaks volumes that the Uber-Right use fear against their own. They make them embrace fear and helplessness to fan their anger. Once in that state they can be told and expected to believe just about anything - Obama was born in Kenya, Obama is a Muslim, Obama bailed out the banks with the TARP programme, Obama is plotting to institute "death panel" healthcare, Obama is weak on terrorism, Obama is plotting to impose socialism on America, even that they need people like Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly, Limbaugh and Palin (now the self-styled, "Defending Fathers") to save them.
How can so very many people be so profoundly stupid?
It's easy. Their fear and anger have been harnessed by miscreants like Beck to transform them into sheep who will drive hundreds, even thousands of miles, to honour the master who has enslaved their feeble minds. They somehow believe Glenn Beck has empowered them even as he has lashed them to his rancid, fictitious ideology. He has so fettered their minds that he can feed them pretty much anything he likes.
This is powerful stuff. Taken far enough it can be very dangerous. At its extreme lies North Korea where villagers have been known to sacrifice their lives running into a burning town hall to "rescue" the mandatory photograph of Kim Jung Il. That is the pinnacle of fear and anger used to pry loose any vestige of critical thinking. It is something that, for now, people like Beck can only admire from a distance.
The message is seductive to those oppressed by their own fears and anger - a restoration of a "better time." After decades of a giant, debt-driven bacchanal, America's good times are on the wane. Ever since the days of the foolishly adored Ronald Reagan, America has been living well beyond its means. The notion that this bygone madness can somehow be restored by a return to religious and political fundamentalism isn't really all that far off from the logic that besets so many North Koreans, is it? That's infantile thinking, a fantasy that actually discourages introspection.
The Beckerheads haven't figured out that, especially in challenging times, the way ahead isn't open to the cowed and the bitter. The last door that sheep pass through is the entrance to the abbatoir. Guess who's waiting for them on the other side? Why that would be those same Defending Fathers and those they serve.