Progressive Tea Party

Just read another intellectual hyperbolic scree on Facebook against the news media, about how it’s always against the true Americans, how it always lies, how it is twisted in favor of the other side. Pure Tea Party anti-press paranoia. Only this came from the Left.  More and more the same paranoid, intolerant, self-delusional memes that  drive the right are infecting the left. I see this everyday from people I know on Facebook.

He wasn’t just condemning FoxNews…he was condemning all media. It made no sense, he was just yelling. But he got a long list of equally verbose and intelligent comments agreeing with and adding to his nonsense. It was like reading the comments on FoxNews.com or Yahoo News, but through the looking glass and spell checked.. I’d stepped into a hole and fallen up, and progressives were screaming just like the Tea Partiers scream, but backwards. Inside out.

The more we fight the Tea Party, the more we become them. The Tea Party despises moderation, so we begin to despise moderation too. The Tea Party despises objective news reporting, so we begin to despise objectivity too. The Tea party loathes compromise, we despise compromise too. The Tea Party see us as a dangerous enemy to be exterminated, we respond in kind. But the Tea Party has now turned its ire on the moderates within its own ranks. And we will too, apparently, if, like them, the left becomes driven by its own internet babble. Our side certainly shows no sign of moderating on Facebook. If anything, it’s grown more extreme. Of course, most of the more visceral among us have never lifted a finger politically. Their activism is limited to the keyboard. But then that was true of the right before the very first Tea Party rallies. We laughed then, you’ll remember. Nothing will ever come of this. What a joke. And people said the same after the Occupy movement degenerated into inanity. I know I did. But now I wonder if maybe our own Tea Party is growing and we can’t even see it yet.  Can’t see it but can feel it in Facebook rants by perfectly intelligent people who were once logical and moderate. People who I couldn’t even talk politics with anymore without being labelled a traitor.

Maybe you doubt this, maybe you think I’m being absurd.  But perhaps you’ll remember not long ago when conservative emails and blogs and Facebook posts were full of demented tales of Obamacare death panels, UN black helicopters, fascist-communist takeovers, false flag operations and scary conspiracies of illegal aliens and black radicals and communists and anti-gun activists. The stuff was so wrong it verged on demented, there was nothing too extreme or absurd that they would not believe. The madness spread across the web email by email, Facebook post by Facebook post, and blog by blog. All swore what they said was true, even though a few seconds on Wikipedia was all it took to disprove it. But they never looked at Wikipedia. They believed what they believed, and that was enough. Soon the Right existed in an alternate reality, which is where they remain, bewildered but angry as ever.

Now look at our side. Every day you’ll see fake news is presented as truth across Facebook and the blogocracy. Every day links are posted to stories that link to stories that link, eventually,to a fake news site. Every day legitimate news items are sprinkled with fake quotes. No one wikis any of them. No one fact checks anything.They just believe, share, and believe again. And as they read them, they get more and more angry. If you believe a lie strongly enough, and if it gets you angry enough, a lie–any lie–becomes real. Should present trends continue, that could be our future. A left wing Tea Party. Rarely does a Lewis Carroll analogy fit so perfectly.

On a final note, I had tried several final paragraphs for this one. My favorite was this:

There are good lies, our lies. And there are bad lies–their lies. Objectivity falls in between, on neutral ground. But there can be no neutrality. You can be only with us or against us. If you say our lie is untrue, that means you say that their lie is true. Come the revolution, they’ll shoot traitors like you. No matter how good you are, if you deviate, you’re a traitor. God rot good men*.

But I looked at it and realized now there’s a ready made fake news paragraph if I ever read one, and I gave up the idea of a final paragraph.

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* so said the Bolshevik about Dr. Zhivago. Julie Christie gave him an angry, hurt look. Maybe you had to see the movie.

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