I am angry. More and more, I think it's a good thing that I've become something of a pacifist, because if I were not, I think I would be frequently tempted to go and blow up folks like Glenn Beck (and perhaps, for good measure, all of Fox News while I'm at it). Being over here in the UK, I'm perhaps a bit behind on keeping up with the latest "scandals" in the very Disunited States, but just today I encountered the story of Obama's environmental advisor, Van Jones, being hounded into resignation. Appalled by what I saw, I dug a little deeper, and found an almost mesmerizing display of conservative idiocy and hypocrisy.
Now, don't get me wrong. Van Jones probably should have resigned, but not because of his past actions, (in my opinion, one's present actions are a lot more important than one's past in determining one's competence) but because of his present weenie-ness. "Uh...I don't know how my name got on that petition...I don't agree with it...weird..." Come on, man! Grow a spine!! If you've got questions about 9/11, stand up and ask them. What could possibly be wrong with that?
I don't know. And, try as I might, I couldn't find an answer from Glenn Beck or any of his raving internet buddies. I listened very carefully to his broadcast about Van Jones being "a Truther" (which, in modern-day America, and especially for conservative talk-show hosts, is a very bad thing...falsehood is much preferred)--you can view it here--and Beck never said! Clearly, Jones had committed some terrible, abominable, unthinkable crime--Beck began his broadcast by saying that this revelation was "unbelievable and wildly out of step with the American people" and said, after confiding it (with all the melodrama he could muster), “Obama should immediately make a statement condemning Van Jones, accept his resignation, and fire everyone in the FBI for being incompetent.” Conservative smear-campaign blogs like worldnetdaily.com and gatewaypundit.com echoed Beck's shock and incredulity. Yet I searched in vain for the cause. Beck never gave one...he even started, after he confided the horrifying revelation about Van Jones, to say some reasonable things about how it's fine and indeed important to question your government, and to be suspicious of it, which is what the 9/11 Truthers were doing, and he read aloud some of the questions the 9/11 Truthers were asking, but then, without providing any answers to these questions or saying what was wrong with them, he kinda trailed off and began to repeat with increasing hysteria that Van Jones was a 9/11 Truther!! Wait...did I miss something? No. Missing from Beck's broadcast was any clear account of what was wrong with Van Jones being a 9/11 Truther, but the broadcast was replete with vague expressions of outrage that Van Jones had accused the President of being behind very sinister activities. Then Beck went on to ask why such a man had been allowed into the Obama administration, and hinted darkly that this man's "radical," "communist" outlook was known, approved of, and shared by the Obama administration.
Though I hate to reach the conclusion that Beck was really being that dim, I do believe that the comical irony of Beck's accusations was quite lost on him. Here he was, as he had been doing for several nights, trying to cast a dark pall of suspicion over the Obama administration, alleging that they were engaged in sinister un-American and anti-American activities, and, part of his strategy for doing this is to express outrage that an Obama administration official had several years ago questioned whether the Bush administration had not been involved in sinister un-American and anti-American activities. To add to the laughable irony of the conservative attack on Van Jones, we find that another major accusation leveled at him, another heap of "dirt" that was dug up, consisted in the fact that he had on certain occasions, long before he was an administration official, made very rude and derogatory remarks about Republicans. Again, I think the irony of the Glenn Beck crowd making this accusation was lost on them.
Now, perhaps the accusation was not that it was outrageous to question and accuse the administration about having done sinister things in connection with 9/11...perhaps the accusation was that it was patently ridiculous and irrational to make such accusations. Again, I can only guess, because Beck made no clear argument about what exactly was wrong with Van Jones's affiliation with 9/11 Truth. However, some of his internet cohorts seemed to imply that this was the problem. In one such case, I encountered another laughable blunder (it would perhaps be wrong to dignify it with the word irony)--see here. On this site, the pundit gleefully waves the original story about the 9/11 Truth Document that provides evidence that Van Jones signed it, and concludes by cackling, "Another Obama associate turns out to be a far left kook." Apparently this pundit concludes that to have questions (or more precisely, to ever have had questions) about the US government's involvement in 9/11 makes you a far left kook (ha! tell that to Ron Paul!). The problem is that the very article that this pundit displays as proof of Van Jones's idiocy says this: "The Statement supports an August 31st Zogby poll that found nearly 50% of New Yorkers believe the government had foreknowledge and "consciously failed to act," with 66% wanting a new 9/11 investigation." So in that case, 66% of New Yorkers qualify as "far left kooks"--well, I suppose by this website's definition, that would be true. But then the article (again, all quoted right there on the blog) says, "The Statement's list of signatories includes notables spanning the political spectrum, from Presidential candidates Ralph Nader, Michael Badnarik, and David Cobb to Catherine Austin Fitts, a member of the first Bush administration, as well as Washington veterans like Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern," and then goes on to list many other prominent and respected people in many fields who signed the document. So, this pundit quotes an article which says that Van Jones had the same concerns that 66% of New Yorkers as well as leaders and authors across the political spectrum had, and then gleefully exclaims, "See, a far left kook!"
Of course, as Glenn Beck would say, there is a more sinister possibility.
Perhaps these people aren't so dimwitted that they're unaware of their hypocrisy and of the ironic self-contradiction of their accusations. Perhaps they do know that they are taking a totally irrational line of attack, but they don't care. One of the websites that had helped fuel the smear campaign was vaunting about having succeeded in forcing one senior Obama administration to resign, and one person commented on the site, "Great job. One down. Three dozen to go." These people aren't interested in truth, or rationality. They're self-consciously pursuing a single object--the destruction of Obama's administration, whatever lengths of irrationality it takes.
And unfortunately, American conservatism appears happy to follow them down this road to perdition.