Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds—Republican Style!

At Salon today, Joan Walsh suggests that the Republican base’s general hysteria over Barack Obama could lead to even more incidents of violence than we’ve already seen over the past few months:

The “town hells,” in short, don’t represent populism, they’re a display of hysteria fed by lies peddled by GOP leaders and corporate interests. And it’s getting worse. In a related tangent, I was stunned by Editor and Publisher’s report that AP, the New York Times and other news organizations quoted liberally from Pittsburgh health club murderer George Sodini’s diaries, but left out his racist diatribes against Obama. The diary in fact began the day after Obama was elected, and Sodini wrote, “Good luck to Obama! He will be successful. The liberal media LOVES him. Amerika has chosen The Black Man.” He then goes on to complain that white “hoes” are choosing black men over him. In the last four months we’ve seen three mass shootings — the Pittsburgh cop killings, the Holocaust Museum murders and now this — in which the murderer has ranted crazily about Obama. I worry with good reason that the Sodini assault won’t be the last.

Sodini, in case you missed it, this past week shot up a women’s fitness class in Pittsburgh. And Walsh failed to mention the murder of an abortion doctor in a church. She also might have mentioned a near miss of violence, in which a woman was recently arrested scoping out a military installation and amassing weapons to fight against what she believed, thanks to Glenn Beck, was a FEMA concentration camp near her home.

If our first African American president does not survive his first term in office, it will be precisely because the right wing media ginned-up a climate of hysteria that “set off” a disturbed or frightened person with access to weapons. Here’s more from Walsh:

At Blue Dog Rep. Mike Ross’ town hall, he was shouted down by a woman insisting Obama supports a single-payer (government) insurance plan, which is simply not true. Another woman began sobbing, talking about what her country has become, ending, “I’m scared!” They’re being terrified by false claims that Obama is promoting mandatory end-of-life “counseling” (read assisted suicide), mandatory gender-change surgery (!) and aiming to eliminate private insurance.

Sobbing? Over health care insurance reform? The Republican media machine is gleefully playing their political piano notes upon some of the darkest keys of the human psyche, generating not just paranoia, but sexual and racial anxiety in people, and then pointing them to Barack Obama as the monsterous and proper object of their horror. It’s truly scary where the right is going, and we all ought to be concerned for the safety of our first African American president.

This sick image of Barack Obama (below) is now widespread among conservative media outlets, and really encapsulates the far right’s dark emotional descent into nihilism. The far right, in the past year, has literally transformed itself into a psychologically hysterical and dangerous thanatos syndrome:


About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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