The usual lies from rightwing leaders and rightwing media have become even more extreme lately (as they often do when the Republicans see an opportunity for a "wedge issue" to distract voters from the reality of their failed policies). To see what they're up to all I have to do is write anything having to do with politics and this blog's personal "troll" will illustrate the day's message from the extreme right.
Over the past week or so, the phony controversy about the Islamic center in lower Manhattan (phony because there was no controversy—even on Fox News at first—until the extreme right created it by baiting the media which, inevitably it seems, took the hook), moved into the mainstream.
There are exceptions on the right, who have displayed some clarity in their thinking about "freedom of religion" being the main issue involved (either for practical political reasons or because they actually believe it), but there has also been a capitulation in most of the media to the right's perspective on it. So it instantly became "the Ground Zero Mosque Controversy" when it's not a mosque and it's not at Ground Zero and there was no controversy (the mayor, the citizens of New York, many of the 9/11 victims' family members and friends, etc. had no objection to it).
But many prominent Republican leaders (Palin, Gingrich, et.al.) and rightwing media types (Rush, O'Reilly, et. al.) encouraged, or in some cases at least allowed, their supporters to further the falsehoods not only about the proposed 51Park cultural center and its promoters, but to link those lies to rightwing lies about Obama being a Muslim, etc.
As I have written many times on this blog and most of us have been aware of for years (though many Democratic political leaders and strategists seem tone deaf to it except briefly during Obama's campaign) the right wing of the Republican Party has been utilizing wordsmiths to find the labels and terms that frame whatever position or argument their taking or making for the day in ways that associate the right with positions most people would take as justifiable.
So by calling a cultural center that will have a prayer room a "mosque" and then labeling it "The Victory Mosque" is in many ways a smart move by rightwing propagandists, because anyone without the education, intelligence, time or energy to follow the story in depth and from sources that are factual will naturally react negatively to the idea that followers of Islam, who have already been branded as the perpetrators of the worst attack on the USA in modern times, would call a "mosque" at (or even near) Ground Zero a "Victory Mosque"—even though, of course, they have done no such thing. That name comes from the right itself, which its followers won't mind because that's the way they've been brainwashed (or propagandized if you will) to see it anyway but others who may not be rightwing parrots and dittoheads might be sucked into seeing it that way too just by that clever branding.
Just as a lot of our fellow citizens have no idea that Islam has many versions, many branches, many sects and divisions and subdivisions, very much like "Christianity." For instance the Imam behind this cultural center is a Sufi, who practices a version of Islam that some Arab countries condemn and even persecute. It'd be like saying there's no difference between say a "charismatic Christian" who believes in talking in tongues and singing and dancing in praise of God with some more Puritan version of Christianity that forbids dancing and singing etc.
What is most despicable about all this fabricated controversy is that it plays on the natural anger and resentment of some of the 9/11 victims' families and friends who don't know enough about Islam or the version of Islam that led in part to 9/11. To manipulate the pain of these people for base political gain is classic rightwing maneuvering.
And there is no real viable left operating at any influential level in this country. Most Democrats either are centrist pragmatists like the president, or lean to the right like the so-called "Blue Dogs"—with the rare exception being someone who leans to the left. like Kucinich et. al. But they obviously have little or no influence on party policy (vid. how quickly the single-payer option was dismissed in the healthcare debate) and even less on the media (when's the last time Al Franken was on the evening news despite his celebrity and innovative ideas etc.).
The right's superior use of language to frame its case (even when based on lies) continues to win the day in terms of mainstream media—"death panels" "death tax" etc.—and unfortunately is having once again an inordinate influence in perceptions about Islam. The idea that the Koran is somehow more violent than the Bible (it isn't) or that a literal interpretation of the Koran leads to the extreme versions of "Sharia" or Islamic laws (it doesn't, e.g. there's nothing in the Koran condoning stoning as a form of execution, though there is in the Bible) or that democracy and Islam aren't compatible any more than a literal interpretation of the Bible always leads to extreme versions of The Ten Commandments and isn't compatible with democracy (if we were to really obey the first commandment, for example, as a country then we would not allow any other religion than Christianity to be practiced here, or perhaps Judaism if you take the Old Testament as "the Jewish Bible").
It's true that 9/11 was concocted and carried out by extremists who claim to practice a version of Islam as their religion. But it is also true that most of the civilian deaths caused by our country's illegal invasion of Iraq were caused mostly by politicians and troops who claim to practice a version of Christianity as their religion. It's an endless cycle of violent reciprocity that serves no one except for political demagogues who can use it to generate enough fear and backlash to gain or keep them in power.
The way to thwart that is through using the truth, factual reality, to expose and uncover the lies. But it seems to be more and more of a challenge these days, as it has in other periods throughout history when knowledge of basic truths became a limited resource making the spreading of lies easier and more successful. Let's hope this isn't the New Dark Ages.
[PS: Here's a pretty good rant abiut all this.]
[PPS: Here's a good article on who the real extremists are.]
[PPPS: And this.]