Monday, March 05, 2007


In this edition, Joe Klein releases his characteristics of right wing extremists.

Anyway, as his commenters try to explain to him over and over again, the point is that to the extent that the people Klein was trying to caricature with his list of left wing extremist characteristics actually exist (stipulating for sake of discussion at the moment that they do), they aren't members of congress, they don't have prominent positions in the Democratic party, they don't have columns in Time magazine, they don't get invited to discuss the issues on CNN or NPR, they don't write Op-Eds for the New York Times and, most relevant for this discussion, they aren't even prominent dirty fucking hippie bloggers.

On the flip side, the caricature he offers up of right wing extremists are members of Congress, prominent members of the Bush adminstration, run the Republican party, have columns in Time magazine, regularly come on CNN to discuss the issues, and pretty much define the right wing blogosphere.

Klein uses too many absolute qualifiers for either list to be especially helpful, but whether either caricature is especially apt I think we can understand who he is trying to describe. On one hand we have a bunch of people who have no voice in our politics or mainstream media, on the other hand we have lots of people who are pervasive in government and who occupy prominent media spots on a regular basis.

Which is why, years and years later, people like me don't understand why the "liberal" pundits in the mainstream media too often spend more of their time swatting at powerless potentially phantom people who have no political power, rather than pointing their rhetorical guns at the people who actually have power.

...adding, it isn't central but I'm curious about his assertion that right wingers believe there are "inferior religions." While there are certainly genuinely open people who believe in the "many religions/many paths to God" kind of worldview, I wager that the vast majority of religious people in this country believe that there are "inferior religions." I appreciate that we try to have a tolerant society free of religious discrimination, but for believers the things that they actually believe are, you know, important. Few believe in the "all religions are equally good except atheism" picture our mainstream religious discourse strains to suggest. Large numbers of people say the won't vote for a Mormon. Are they all right wing extremists?