Saturday, April 25, 2009

Red State Blues

Notice how conservatives have been co-opting liberals lately? Not the issues, but the style.

First there was Tea Bag Day. Political rallies or demonstrations have long been associated with the Left. Yet here were right-wingers carrying signs, chanting, and performing agitprop street theater. More than a few were dressed like Uncle Sam, and, let's face it, if you didn't know Uncle Sam was Uncle Sam, you might think he was an aging hippie, what with the beard and multi-hued garb. Nobody stripped, as often happens at more liberal gatherings, but maybe next time they'll find a way to that doesn't offend the Christian Right (does Wal-Mart carry bloomers?)

Another thing conservatives have co-opted is paranoia about the government. Paranoia about the government used to be exclusively liberal. I know that sounds a bit odd as liberals are the ones that supposedly love government. But there's government, and there's government. Liberals like Social Security, Head Start, FEMA, that kind of government. But liberals have always been a little leery, at least since the 1950s, of the FBI, CIA, and the military-industrial complex. Really, any government entity with guns (or recording devices). Any government entity meant to keep us secure. However, the Department of Homeland Security recently issued a report warning of right-wing extremism, and now it's the conservatives who are up in arms. Some have even taken to referring to the report as "McCarthyism". McCarthyism! It's the liberals who are supposed to worry about that! Republicans worrying about McCarthism is a little like Democrats worrying about Ralph Nader (well, Democrats do worry about Nader, but for a whole different reason.)

Finally, the conservatives--well, at least one very famous conservative who collects apologies the way ancient tombs collect dust--have co-opted multiculturalism. Rush Limbaugh recently complained that the Somali pirates recently shot to death in the successful rescue attempt of American merchant captain Richard Phillips were, in fact, "teenage black Muslims". Rush was actually complaining that liberals weren't complaining. And why should liberals complain, when Rush is doing it for them?

So, is there anything left from the Left for the Right to co-opt? Well, there's guilt. Conservatives have been mocking "liberal guilt" forever. Well, here's their big chance to feel guilty themselves. It doesn't have to be whatever it is liberals feel guilty about. It can be something uniquely their own.

Torture, say.

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