Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wingnut pundits and their audiences

Wingnut pundits - Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, and many others - think that the people who listen them are illiterate idiots. If you listen to them and believe what they say, you're often proving them right.

The Huffington Post has the full text of the Homeland Security report on rightwing extremists. Go read it; it's only eight scant pages of text, and it's mostly in English rather than law enforcement bureaucratese. Here are some selections of particular interest:

Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.
So who's DHS warning about? Veterans? No, rightwing extremists recruiting veterans.
DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremist will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. ... The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.
The only way you can possibly construe this as an attack on veterans in general is if you are insane or illiterate - or if you're pandering to an audience that you know loves appeals to its insanity and illiteracy.

As if arresting Timothy McVeigh disrespected all veterans instead of the one who executed the largest act of domestic terrorism in more than a century...

Even Michelle Malkin, despite clearly being insane, should normally not feel that this report targets her (even though it doubtless targets at least a few members of her audience). Malkin's loony on immigration, yet the report carefully and Constitutionally says:
Debates over appropriate immigration levels and enforcement policy generally fall within the realm of protected political speech under the First Amendment, but in some cases, anti-immigration or strident pro-enforcement fervor has been directed against specific groups and has the potential to turn violent.

Note: Someone needs to remind the author of the report that Barack Obama's election was historic. It will be some years yet before it can be described as historical.

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