Why Is the Conservative Brain More Fearful? The Alternate Reality Right-Wingers Inhabit Is Terrifying
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Consider, then, what it must be like to be a true-blue Rush Limbaugh fan, or someone who thinks Michele Bachmann is a serious lawmaker with a grasp of the issues – put yourself into that person's shoes for a moment, and consider what a nightmarish landscape the world around them must represent:
The White House has been usurped by a Kenyan socialist named Barry Soetero, who hatched an elaborate plot to pass himself off as a citizen of the United States – a plot the media refuse to even investigate. This president doesn't just claim the right to assassinate suspected terrorists who are beyond the reach of law enforcement – he may be planning on rounding up his ideological opponents and putting them into concentration camps if he is reelected. He may have murdered a bloggerwho was critical of his administration, but authorities refuse to investigate. At the very least, he is plotting on disarming the American publicafter the election, in accordance with a secret deal cut with the UNand possibly with the assistance of foreign troops.
Again, these ideas are not relegated to the fringe of forwarded emails. Glenn Beck talked about FEMA camps on Fox News (he later debunked them, which only fueled charges of a media coverup); dozens of Republican elected officials have at least hinted that they are birthers, while an erstwhile front-runner for the GOP nomination has repeatedly claimed that Obama is not eligible to be president. The head of the NRA, and the GOP's presidential nominee have both claimed Obama is plotting to take Americans' guns.
In reality, Americans are safer and more secure today than at any point in human history. But inhabitants of the world of the hard-right are surrounded by danger – from mobs of thugs at home to a variety of powerful and deadly enemies abroad.
For the true believers, Latin American immigration isn't a phenomenon to be managed, but a grave existential threat. A plot to “take back” large swaths of the Southwest is a theory that has aired not only on obscure right-wing blogs, but on Fox and CNN. On CNN, Lou Dobbs claimed immigrants were spreading leprosy; Rick Perry, Rep. Louie Gohmert and other “mainstream” voices on the right (that is, people with platforms) agree that Hezbollah and Hamas “are using Mexico as a way to penetrate into the southern part of the United States,” possibly with the aid of “ terror babies” carried in pregnant women's wombs.
In the real world, the rate of violent crime in the US is at the lowest point since 1968 – in fact, it is somewhat of a mystery that the violent crime rate has continued to decline even in the midst of the Great Recession. It's also true that 84 percent of white murder victims are killed by other whites. But if you read the Drudge Report, or check in at Fox, on any given day you will see extensive coverage of any incident in which a black person harms a white person. These fit in with the narrative – advanced by people like Glenn Beck and long-touted by Ron Paul – that we stand on the brink of a race war, led by the New Black Panthers (just consider how frightening it would be if there were more than a dozen New Black Panthers, or if they did more than say stupid things). Marauding “flash-mobs” of black teens – a near-obsession at many conservative outlets these days -- are simply a harbinger of things to come.