June 20, 2006

Wherein I Get Dressed and Explore the Internets!

[UPDATE: John has posted the audio and a transcript of part of Limbaugh's rant. It's even worse the second time. Feh.

AND: Steven D. at Booman Tribune has a lot more. He did an extensive survey of liberal and progressive blogs. Whaddya know: not so much happy dancing contrary to Limbaugh's bloviations. In fact, not any. It appears that Limbaugh...gasp...just made it up! You're amazed and astounded, I know. I suggest a drink. Or three.]

Knowing that I would not be disappointed, I listened to the opening segments of Rush Limbaugh's show a little while ago. I was certain he would be in high dudgeon about this horrifying, awful story:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - An Iraqi military official said Tuesday that the bodies of two missing U.S. soldiers showed signs of torture, and that the men appeared to have been killed "in a barbaric way." Meanwhile, the umbrella group for Iraq insurgents said the man who succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi killed the two soldiers.

"We give the good news ... to the Islamic nation that we have carried God's verdict by slaughtering the two captured crusaders,'" said a statement in the name of the Mujahedeen Shura Council, the umbrella group for five insurgent organizations, including al-Qaida in Iraq.

The statement, which could not be authenticated, said the two soldiers were "slaughtered,"' suggesting they had been beheaded. The Arabic word used in the statement, "nahr," is used for the slaughtering of sheep by cutting the throat and has been used in past statements to refer to beheadings.

The claim of responsibility was posted on an Islamic militant Web site where insurgent groups regularly post statements.
As I knew would be the case, Limbaugh's outrage and indignation were not directed at the insurgents who tortured and killed the American soldiers. Oh, no. His hatred and contempt were directed at the "crazed liberals, hate-America" crowd, and at the "drive-by liberal media."

Just a couple of minutes into the program, Limbaugh read an email from a listener, who wondered if "the left will say the soldiers deserved it," and who went on to say he was "so sick of the cut-and-run liberals." After reading the email, Limbaugh said he had gone to the "wacko lefty" sites to see what they were saying. Sure enough! "They're happy these two soldiers got tortured! Good riddance to them!" Limbaugh said the crazed left would use these deaths to say once again that this "war" was going nowhere, that we're losing, etc. (All paraphrases, but close to fully accurate; I was taking notes, since I knew what would be coming.)

Well, sez I to myself, this is pretty easy to check out. So I donned my internets exploring outfit and did some field work. (When I go exploring this way, I usually get an extra large cup of coffee, put on my LA Dodgers cap, and sometimes I even put my pants on. Yes, that's right: I often write half-nekkid! No pajamas for this boy.)

I started at Daily Kos. At the time I checked, I didn't even find a mention of this story. So I went to Atrios. Also no mention. He has some weird Joe Klein thing going on now. Not crazed enough, Atrios! Remedial classes in Advanced Lefty Lunacy and Evil lie in your future! Then I went to Booman Tribune. Ditto. And I mean, c'mon. Stories about free laser eye surgery for Navy pilots? How disappointingly banal and normal.

Okay, sez I, that's enough. I'm bored. Not enough craziness. Now there may be a couple of sites out there where a couple of posters said ugly and regrettable things. But obviously that's not what Limbaugh is contending -- and that's not what this is about. You don't need an advanced degree in psychology to see the extreme degree of projection involved here (among many other elements). Limbaugh and his fellow thugs -- i.e., the zealots who defend All Things Bush -- have politicized every aspect of the "War on Terror" since the day after 9/11. They took up Bush's line that "you're either with us or against us," and applied it not only to the rest of the world -- but to all Americans.

But what they meant was that if you didn't support every element of Bush's foreign policy -- even when that policy involved blatant acts of aggression against countries that were no threat to us and hadn't attacked us -- then, in InstaProf's infamous phrase, you were "on the other side." You were with the terrorists. From their vantage point, there wasn't any significant conceptual difference.

And they project their own methodology of politicization onto those they perceive to be their "enemies" here at home. Since they use every event to advance their political agenda, they assume everyone else does, too.

Of course, as my non-scientific survey demonstrates and as we all know in countless other ways, everyone else doesn't. Some of us simply believe that the invasion and occupation of Iraq were and are an immoral act of large-scale destructiveness, and of self-destructiveness. (And, yeah, Rush: we're losing. We lost when the first American soldier set foot in Iraq.) Innumerable facts support that judgment, just as they supported it before the invasion even began. But if the Limbaughs were to acknowledge that, their dishonest and ugly game wouldn't work. So they have to invent a mythical "crazed left" and a mythical "enemy," and endow it with the required attributes. If the lunatic liberals and all the other people who oppose our foreign policy don't actually say what Limbaugh needs them to say...well, they said it anyway. Besides, Limbaugh knows that's what they're really thinking.

I suppose one might criticize the sites I mentioned for not discussing the story at all -- but since every day brings terrible news, what are people supposed to say? "Here's still another terrible story. Yes, it's really terrible." When the nightmare never ends, it becomes increasingly difficult to note how nightmarish it is in ways you haven't already discussed endless times.

Limbaugh made one other comment that I found somewhat interesting. He said that for the "crazed lefties" to be "happy" that the American soldiers were tortured and to subscribe to the rest of the program he's invented for them, the "hate-America" crowd has to believe that what we did in Abu Ghraib or our use of torture (which Limbaugh, of course, denies is torture) is "the same as what the terrorists do."

When advocates of our foreign policy like Charles Krauthammer offer detailed "defenses" of the legitimized use of torture (and when people like Andrew Sullivan offer singularly unconvincing "refutations") -- when Krauthammer explicitly argues that our enemies have forced us to adopt their methods and that, if we wish to defeat them, we must embrace evil ourselves -- I am hard-pressed to identify precisely what the difference is, insofar as Limbaugh's specific point is concerned. And the same is true of many other horrors we have committed over the last several years -- recently culminating, as but a single example, in the suicides at Guantanamo. (My entire series on torture is described here.)

But all that is just a little too much reality for the Limbaugh crowd.

Well, that's enough exploring on the internets for one morning. I'm tired. More coffee, please.