Friday, June 12, 2009

The Dynamic Duo: Hitler and Obama

I can't sleep. And it's probably because I keep thinking of the creepy sign that these even creepier young people are holding. Last weekend we walked down to the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica to have lunch. There are always any number of street performers and soap box preachers to be found at the Promenade, but this was the craziest experience I've ever had there.

I had neve
r heard of Lyndon LaRouche, but apparently this guy has quite a record for stirring up crazy conspiracies--he's an extremest crackpot with a political cult following, it seems. At any rate, a large group of college-age kids spouting off countless LaRouche inspired philosophies had gathered to speak out against Obama's healthcare plan. Okay, that's fine. I have my issues with "universal" or government-run healthcare too. But that wasn't the problem.

The problem was
that they were using the Holocaust to create a spectacle that they imagined in their LaRouche-induced stupor would somehow advance their worthy cause. There were 8 different signs (most of which I snapped photos of) depicting Obama as Hitler and explicitly stating that Obama is continuing the work that Hitler began with his new health plan.

I usually don't indulge crazies. Arguing
with them gets you nowhere. They simply stare right through you and continue to regurgitate whatever propaganda they've been fed no matter what you say. But when I saw a young black man (part of the group) dressed in a suit, wearing a name tag that said "Prez" and sporting a sharpy-drawn Hitler mustache on his lip, I couldn't restrain myself.

I walked up to the table to collect some of the literature, and said to the young man handing it out, "Yes, you guys are absolutely right. What Obama is doing is EXACTLY the same thing as stuffing millions of innocent people into gas chambers and crematoria." And he told me that it is the same thing, that Obama has explicitly stated that he intends

Do you laugh? Or do you spit in his face? I mean, really? The issue is not whether or not I like Obama or his ideas regarding healthcare reform. I think it's clear what the issue is here. He then went on to tell me that I knew nothing about the Holocaust. Good those are fighting words.

I have so much more to say about this, but it will have to wait until tomorrow's post. In the meantime, here are a couple more pics from the spectacle.


Insignificant Wrangler said...

I was telling Meg how only the way home from work I tend to listen to conservative radio as a reminder of why the work I do is necessary. It is a sort of inspiration.

Recently they had a well-spoken author (I wished I caught his name) who was addressing the impact of Obama's unquestionable Muslim heritage. I wish I had a podcast to use in a rhetorical theory course, since it was some of the most deft linguistic slight of hand I have heard in awhile. Take, for instance, the way in which the speaker compared their shared heritages, a move that amplifies the speaker's ethos as it attempts to create identification: "I am born of a Muslim father, he is born of a Muslim father; I attended schools outside of the US, he attended schools outside the Us; I am ivy league educated, he is ivy league educated; but whereas I have become a Christian, he has become a politician." Nothing too tricky or mendacious here, just some good ole rhetorical witchcraft. (If Casey shows up, this is the "bad" rhetoric).

But, then, it got a bit too gut-wrenching. The speaker compared Obama's urging Israel to stop building homes inside Palestinian areas of the West Bank to the Nazi policy of forbidding Jews to build or own homes in German neighborhoods. Unfortunately, I forget the name of this policy--but the speaker's use of German here contributed both to his authority and to the apparent mendaciousness of Obama's Israeli strategy.

And the interviewers response: "Of course, we have watched as America steers itself closer and closer to fascism."

I had to change the channel at this point. But, I've listened to the station long enough to know two things: 1) most of its demographic, if evidenced by its callers, will spend the next few hours calling in to congratulate the speaker/program for alerting them to yet another danger of our new fascist president and 2) many of these calls will end with "praise Jesus."

Casey said...

[Casey shows up]

"This is the bad rhetoric?"

Wrangler, come on! You're not allowed to say stuff like that. You believe there's no truth, only a conversation with opposing sides groping in the dark. Otherwise you have to answer the question you're begging: According to what is this the bad rhetoric? What I've always suspected seems perfectly clear to me now: postmodernists are just ideologues disguised in sheep's clothing.

And if the appointment of a new "czar" (!!!) every other day doesn't open your ears to the sound of encroaching statism, nothing will. Yes, yes... you may go on hoping that "your guy" will be the first benevolent philosopher king of all-time, of course: "Obama just gets it," my wife says.

But I realize I'm sort of shouting into the sound of a singing choir here.

So, for the second time this week, I find myself semi-defending conservative media... maybe just for the sake of antagonism (my YHWH, have you heard "The Ed Show!?!"), or maybe because it sounds rather more convincing to me than what's coming out of the party of power.

As I said to Wishydig in a recent private message: I entered academia in about 2001... and I was happy to see a vigorous refusal of the ideas of popular politics. But now, with the election of Obama, most academics seem to be America's most eager water-boys and girls, and it's very depressing to me. If the academics don't dissent--?

I'm still thinking about writing an article titled, "Waiting for Apologies from Sartre and Heidegger."

All this even having quit caffeine three days ago! Just imagine if I was still drinking black tea!

Hypotyposis said...

Ahem... Of course, universal health care does not necessarily imply government control...