Is The U.S. Addicted to ... Paranoia?
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Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear - Mark Twain
Today's main American paranoid rants: Obama will take away your guns and enslave you! Christians will be persecuted to extinction. Of course, they're without merit, but tell that to the ranters: those Rabid Religious Right First Amendment freaks out to kill everyone who isn't Christian.
OK, paranoia is contagious, no matter which side of the political aisle you're on. The liberal obsession with the Koch brothers certainly matched Glenn Beck's obsession with George Soros. And it's easy to develop a paranoia about paranoia. Yet it does seem that the Right has taken paranoia to its outer limits, depending on God to support it, and making sure that people are uneducated enough to embrace it.
Headlines and quotes coming from the Right are more WTF? than OMG! For example, World Net Daily headlined:
And get this:
is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis,
sexual confusion and homosexuality." - James Rutz is chairman of Megashift Ministries
They're All Coming To Get You!
Does anyone remember the paranoid cold war
spoof The Russians Are
Coming, The Russians Are Coming! ? Transport some of the film's
dimwitted characters to the present and it's reasonable to assume that they
would fit right in to today's paranoid groups.
In the movie, however, the idiocy was shelved and the paranoia was removed once the villagers discovered the Russians to be ... humans just like them. Unfortunately, today's paranoids are not prone to discovery.
Or education. They enjoy their paranoia too
much to ever realize that their paranoia might be groundless, or at least a lot
less threatening than they thought.
Richard Hofstadter, in his
seminal work, The
Paranoid Style in American Politics , wrote( three years before The Russians Are Coming! )
about a phenomenon that crept into the American political psyche:
Although American political life has rarely been touched by the most acute varieties of class conflict, it has served again and again as an arena for uncommonly angry minds. Today this fact is most evident on the extreme right, which has shown, particularly in the Goldwater movement, how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. Behind such movements there is a style of mind, not always right-wing in its affiliations, that has long and varied history. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the qualities of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind.
In a sense, that style is being utilized by the NRA, the Christian Right and the Tea Party. Notice how Salon's Alan Berlow, when writing about the Sandy Hook Massacre and the NRA (Held Hostage by NRA Paranoia), makes a statement akin to Hofstadter's about the acute paranoia of the NRA: