I have seen this story from the U.K. Independent by Johann Hari linked in a number of places. Here is one from Balloon Juice. The basic premise is that an Englishman signs up for the uber-conservative National Review cruise without telling anyone who he really is, where lots and lots of Big Name uber-conservatives talk to the ordinary uber-conservatives, who pay Big Money for the privilege, and then the reporter writes about his experience for a left-leaning English newspaper.
Boy, the insights you get about people when they think you aren’t listening. Here is one of my favorite passages, and it’s right up near the front of the article.
“I lie on the beach with Hillary-Ann, a chatty, scatty 35-year-old Californian designer. As she explains the perils of Republican dating, my mind drifts, watching the gentle tide. When I hear her say, ” Of course, we need to execute some of these people,” I wake up. Who do we need to execute? She runs her fingers through the sand lazily. “A few of these prominent liberals who are trying to demoralise the country,” she says. “Just take a couple of these anti-war people off to the gas chamber for treason to show, if you try to bring down America at a time of war, that’s what you’ll get.” She squints at the sun and smiles. ” Then things’ll change.””
Ummm.... Yes, enlightening, to say the least. Here’s a couple of more interesting little snippets.
"I am travelling on a bright white cruise ship with two restaurants, five bars, a casino – and 500 readers of the National Review. Here, the Iraq war has been "an amazing success". Global warming is not happening. The solitary black person claims, "If the Ku Klux Klan supports equal rights, then God bless them." And I have nowhere to run.”
“To my left, I find a middle-aged Floridian with a neat beard. To my right are two elderly New Yorkers who look and sound like late-era Dorothy Parkers, minus the alcohol poisoning. They live on Park Avenue, they explain in precise Northern tones. "You must live near the UN building," the Floridian says to one of the New York ladies after the entree is served. Yes, she responds, shaking her head wearily. "They should suicide-bomb that place," he says. They all chuckle gently. How did that happen? How do you go from sweet to suicide-bomb in six seconds?”
“Podhoretz and Buckley now inhabit opposite poles of post-September 11 American conservatism, and they stare at wholly different Iraqs. Podhoretz is the Brooklyn-born, street-fighting kid who travelled through a long phase of left-liberalism to a pugilistic belief in America's power to redeem the world, one bomb at a time. Today, he is a bristling grey ball of aggression, here to declare that the Iraq war has been "an amazing success." He waves his fist and declaims: "There were WMD, and they were shipped to Syria ... This picture of a country in total chaos with no security is false. It has been a triumph. It couldn't have gone better." He wants more wars, and fast. He is "certain" Bush will bomb Iran, and " thank God" for that.”
If you want more, go read the entire article. But this confirms the deep, deep suspicion of liberals and Democrats on all sides that these people are actually pretty much insane. Not a little cracked, like your elderly aunt that used to talk to herself and smelt like mothballs. No, totally and categorically insane. And remember, these are the people that make up the remaining base of support for George Bush and his policies. William F. Buckley and Rich Lowry are portrayed in this story as the voices of reason, which in and of itself is pretty insane.
I am appalled to find that perhaps 25 to 30% of this country seems to have lost their minds, that they have pulled up their anchors of rationality and set sail in the wide open ocean of total delusion, based on how they would like the world to be, not how it is. How else can you explain a 35 year old woman, apparently rather successful in business, who is openly advocating murdering one or more liberals just because they criticize President Bush on how he manipulated this country into a war that is turning out to have no upside whatsoever? “Gas chamber”? Isn’t that rather…. Hitler-esque? People get upset when anyone makes a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis, and for very good reason. I cannot think of a more industrialized, sanitized version of pure evil than what Hitler put together in the 1930’s and early 1940’s. But this lady in the story, “Hillary-Ann”, is inviting those comparisons herself, by openly advocating murder of people she sees as her political opponents. Excuse me? And I bet that she sees herself as a good Christian as well.
Perhaps these people are just talking “a good game”, and in their heart, they don’t really mean it. However, based on this story, based on anonymous comments left on right-wing blogs and even more mainstream websites that allow comments, based on inside information about what the fundamentalist Christians are talking about when they think no one outside their group is listening, I truly believe that these people are serious. That is what they believe and that is what they would like to have happen.
I suppose when you have a small but still significant population in a country that is intent on gaining and holding on to power, it isn’t a surprise when you end up with a fascist police state, as evidenced by Germany, Russia, Italy, Spain in the late 20th century. I am very afraid that it could still happen here. I think the chances of it happening are much less than they were back at the height of the pro-war fever dream that we went through from about late 2001 to 2005. Still, we need to be very vigilant.
Oh, and by the way, the Norman Podhoretz quoted above in the article was just appointed as a senior advisor to the presidential campaign of one Rudy Giuliani.