The Tragedy and Farce of Collective Guilt

William N. Grigg 
Pro Libertate
June 13, 2009

 

featured stories   The Tragedy and Farce of Collective Guilt

Dark Helmet, evil ruler of the Spaceballs: Before you die, Lone Star, there is something you should know about us.

Lone Star, intrepid if thick-headed space hero: What?

Dark Helmet (with triumphant menace): I … am your father’s, brother’s, nephew’s, cousin’s former roommate.

Lone Star (puzzled): What’s that make us?

Dark Helmet (after a beat): Absolutely nothing.

From  the climactic battle sequence in Mel Brooks’ 1987 satirical space epic, Spaceballs.

The tenuous, gossamer link of distant association described by Dark Helmet works as a piece of throw-away satirical comedy. Under the doctrine of collective guilt being promoted by our would-be cultural commissars, that relationship would also be sufficient to serve as a “ink” connecting Lone Star to the crimes committed by Dark Helmet.

featured stories   The Tragedy and Farce of Collective Guilt  
  Olbermann
   
  Partisan hack and hypocritical ideologue: During the reign of Bush the Lesser, Keith Olbermann routinely — and properly — condemned the Regime for inflating the threat of Islamic terrorism. Now he’s leading the chorus of alarm regarding the supposed threat of domestic “right-wing” terrorism.
   

Lest it be thought that I’m exaggerating, consider KeithOlbermann’s effort to connect Ron Paul — a man devoted to peace and protecting the individual rights of everybody, a man who seems biologically incapable of malice — to James von Brunn, the troubled 88-year-old man accused of carrying out the murderous shooting rampage at the Holocaust Museum.

Olbermann, who looks like one of Eugene Levy’s SCTV caricatures and (to my disappointment) appears to have the soul of an East German prosecutor, grimly informed his viewing audience that “von Brunn switched his website domain on May 1 to a man who shares a phone number with a woman who was listed as the Michigan coordinator for former presidential candidate Ron Paul.”

What does that make the actual relationship between von Brunn and Dr. Paul?

As Dark Helmet would say: Absolutely nothing.

But this is a “link,” or at least can be forged into one by people whose reserves of silliness and dishonesty are adequate to that task, and Olbermann — who, like most pathologically self-important asses, has an apparently bottomless supply of silliness — easily qualifies.

A theory of collective guilt easily as silly as Olbermann’s dribbled down the chin — or at least oozed from the fingertips — of David Neiwert, a former professional associate of the degenerate fraud and racial ambulance chaser Morris Dees.

Niewert is author of the recent book The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right. For the most part a porridge of self-contradictory partisan talking points, Neiwert’s book does offer the occasional useful disclosure.

For example, Neiwert points out (pg. 126) that during its revival in the early decades of the 20th century, the Ku Klux Klan acted as “an auxiliary police outfit” to enforce laws against bootlegging — which is to say that the Klan acted as government sub-contractors in carrying out the deranged policy of Prohibition. There’s a potent seed of an important realization here regarding the role of the state in cultivating hate groups. Regrettably, that seed requires fertile soil in which to flourish, and where such uncomfortable thoughts are concerned, Neiwert’s mind is barren and rocky ground.

Similarly, Neiwert provides a well-researched and detailed chapter on “Eliminationism in America” (no, it’s not devoted to matters of digestive tract health) which deals with the long and tragic history of the State’s war against the Indians, as well as other forms of State-enforced racial discrimination.

In that survey the author takes due notice of the depredations carried out against the Plains Indians by Union “war heroes” like Phil Sheridan and William Sherman. He then he spends the rest of the book excoriating “neo-Confederates.” That category presumably includes anyone who recalls with horror the eliminationist campaigns against the Shenandoah Valley and civilian populations in Georgia as a prelude to the crimes committed against the Indians.

featured stories   The Tragedy and Farce of Collective Guilt  
  featured stories   The Tragedy and Farce of Collective Guilt
   
  David Neiwert
   

One of the most useful passages in Neiwert’s book (see pages 97-98) is a critical treatment of the embittered, authoritarian nationalism that passes for contemporary conservatism.

What is “conservative,” asks Neiwert, about permitting “torture, rape, and the killing of civilians under the guise of interrogating prisoners in the nation we now occupy as a result of the Bush Doctrine?… Is it conservative to issue hundreds of `signing statements’ that place the president outside congressional purview and above the law? To blatantly flout federal surveillance laws nad proceed with the wiretapping of thousands of American citizens?” Is “conservatism” defined entirely by support for aggressive war abroad and presidential dictatorship abroad?

Movement conservatism, Neiwert concludes, “has come to resemble nothing genuinely conservative at all but rather something starkly radical: profligate spending and economic recklessness; incautious and expansionary wars, pursued unilaterally; exaltation of religious fervor and assaults on science; and the undermining of the civil rights of minorities.”

Although this is an incomplete and flawed summation, it’s a good place to begin in discussing the dangers of contemporary conservatism, as opposed to the genuine article.

That being the case, why does Neiwert go out of his way to implicate Ron Paul, who — but Neiwert’s analysis — would appear to be the only genuine conservative of any stature within the GOP?

In his book Neiwert accused Dr. Paul of helping to “mainstream” the ideas of the “Radical Right” — the same ideas, he insists on the same page (136, for those who are interested), that propelled “the rampages of Eric Rudolph, Buford Furrow, and … Jim David Adkisson.” This is because Ron Paul’s presidential campaign promoted what Neiwert dismisses as “classical Patriot monetary and taxation theories” — that is, an understanding of the need for hard money (gold and silver) and of the destructive influence of the Federal Reserve on our economic and social health as a country.

(Neiwert carefully avoided mentioning Dr. Paul’s emphatic and courageous stand against the Iraq War and the demented policy of “pre-emption,” including nuclear aggression against “rogue” countries. He likewise omitted mention of Dr. Paul’s eagerness to work with congressional Democrats — such as Dennis Kucinich and Barney Frank — on issues of common interest where this was compatible with his principles. Oversights of this sort attest to an abundance of bad faith on Neiwert’s part.)

Like a dog returning to its vomit, Neiwert returned to this smear against Dr. Paul in the wake of the Holocaust Museum shooting. Noting that von Brunn was arrested for attempting either a “citizen’s arrest” or kidnapping (depending on your perspective) ofPaul Volcker at the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, Neiwert wove a tangled skein of guilt-by-astronomically distant association:

 “Von Brunn … was an adherent of the white-supremacist/far-right movement called  Posse Comitatus, and was acting on those beliefs. More to the point, this is precisely the same belief system that today fuels the cottage industry in conspiracy theories — promulgated by the likes of Ron Paul and Alex Jones — that the Fed is part of a massive conspiracy of `international [read: Jewish] bankers’ to enslave Americans and destroy the country. It’s been around quite awhile, but lately it’s been gaining the patina of being regurgitated for mainstream consumption on right-wing media. ”

 

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