Another Socialist Weighs in on Arizona

by Trevor Loudon, Friday, January 14, 2011

New Zeal

Katha Pollitt writes for The Nation, a key mouthpiece of the far left Institute for Policy Studies. She has been active in the U.S.'s largest Marxist organization Democratic Socialists of America, in Feminists for Peace and Barack Obama and in the infamous JournoList. Unsurprisingly she also has something to say about the Arizona killings. Also unsurprisingly she cites Marxist philosopher Michel Foucault and the far left Southern Poverty Law Center. “It was the gun. It was the mental illness. It was the Tea. It was “Second Amendmentremedies” and “reload” and candidates’ districts marked with cross hairs. It was glennbeckrushlimbaughmichaelsavagetalkradiotv with its 24/7 fomenting of hatred and contempt for Democrats, its antigovernment paranoia. It was the incivility. It was Arizona. It was the Internet. It was hypermasculinity and contempt for women. It was the gun. In the Guardian, my Nation colleagues Gary Younge and Max Blumenthal point to Arizona’s poisonous right-wingery, some of it aimed directly at Giffords, a well-liked centrist Democrat: after she voted in favor of healthcare reform, her Tucson office was vandalized; at a 2009 meet-and-greet, a protester dropped a gun. In a letter to the New York Times, Giffords constituent Ronnie Bergen recalls attending a healthcare forum arranged by the Congresswoman: “the event was packed with antiObama people, and the tone was ugly: shouting, rude, menacing individuals…. It was a chilling experience, even for one who had grown up in the bitter politics of the 1960s.” As Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik put it, Arizona has become “the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

But you don’t have to be Michel Foucault to understand that mentally ill people express their demons in ways that are culturally—and politically—inflected, and in Arizona that inflection is right-wing antigovernment hysteria. He may never have mentioned Palin (and really, must she always be the center of attention?), but his obsessions—the gold standard, government tyranny through mind control, the “second Constitution”— are familiar themes of far-right patriot movements. Mark Potok, who monitors wingnut extremism for the Southern Poverty Law Center, sees in the jumble of novels on Loughner’s MySpace page a theme of the individual against the totalitarian state, with Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto thrown in “as variants of a kind of generalized ‘smash the state’ attitude.” The left, from Castro, to the Communist Party and Democratic Socialists of America, will ride this train until it runs out of steam. They know that a lie repeated often enough...... posted by Trevor Loudon

(reprinted with author’s permission)

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