23 April 2015

Knowing the enemy

Sites like Republic of Gilead and Right Wing Watch perform a very valuable service in reporting and analyzing what "the other side" in the struggle for America's future is saying and thinking, and I rely on them a good deal for that purpose.  However, I also have a firm belief that to truly understand an ideology and its adherents, one must read them in their own words, unmediated by any paraphrasing or interpretation by one's own side.  Here are some of the sites I regularly read for that purpose.

LifeSite News is a traditionalist and theocratic Catholic news site.  Abortion, gay rights, and porn are the great evils it crusades against, and it also closely follows the struggle between reformist and reactionary tendencies within the Catholic hierarchy (making it a useful resource for countering the adulation of Pope Francis in some leftist circles).  Any hope that the hard-line religious mentality can be reasoned with will find little encouragement here -- anything that doesn't fit into the theological alternate-reality bubble, even something as harmless as efforts to stop bullying of gay kids, is dismissed as gay propaganda.

RedState is, I'm sure, known to most liberals, but it's well worth reading as a reminder of what that "base" we keep hearing about, to which Republican politicians must pander, is actually like.  The Bible is the framework for understanding reality.  Any concern about global warming is "hysteria".  Everyone who opposes the right-wing agenda is acting out of pure malevolence and hates America.  Secularists, gays, and liberals are pretty much the evil trinity which makes up Satan.  There's often actually more venom directed against "moderate" Republicans than against Democrats -- I've seen more attacks on Jeb Bush than on Obama, whose absolute iniquity, after all, can simply be taken for granted.  RedState suffers from a bad case of ad-clog, so be prepared for your browser to slow to a crawl.

Race42016 is a Republican forum for discussing upcoming elections, usually focused on the race for the Republican Presidential nomination.  Most posts are just summaries of polls, with the real life of the site being on the comment threads.  The full range of tendencies within the party is represented, and debates among fundies, libertarians, and moderates often get quite heated and nasty, illustrating why the latter group has tended to drift away from the party.

Popular Liberty represents the Paulist libertarian branch of the right wing (until recently the site was called The Daily Paul).  Occasional flashes of sanity like pro-drug-legalization posts are balanced by lunges into conspiracy theories and tedious blather about currency and the gold standard.  Useful reading for liberals who think the libertarians are an alternative to the frustratingly-centrist Democratic party -- there are some worthwhile strains of thought here, but in practice they can't be disentangled from teh crayzee.

I also occasionally look at National Review (a sadly wingnutized shadow of what it was under Buckley), PJ Media, Breitbart, HotAir (more ad-clog), and PowerLine.  Don't overdo it, though.  Too much of this stuff can get both depressing and monotonous, and excessive exposure to the kind of syntax and spelling found in their comment threads can undermine your ability to write correctly (I'm not joking, I've actually noticed my own intuitive grasp of such things slipping a bit since I started reading those sites regularly).  Spend some time on something light, colorful, fun, and non-political when you get done with them.

Links to posts on such sites sometimes provoke reader comments that they seem alien or unreal, like reports from some bizarre alternate reality.  But there are plenty of people who live and breathe that alternate reality, and they walk among us.  They vote, too.  One of the enemy's key weaknesses is that they don't understand us -- their view of us, as a look at any of these sites will attest, is a ludicrous caricature completely dependent on their own warped frame of reference.  We must not make the same mistake.  If we want to cope with and ultimately defeat the enemy, we'd better understand them the way they really are.


Blogger Woody said...

I don't believe that the misunderstanding works only one way.
There are examples of liberal spouting, with little if any correlation to reality, which seem equally extreme. Or are liberals the only group with no unrealistic fringes?

Keen to know what you think,

23 April, 2015 05:56  
Blogger Ahab said...

Thanks for the shout-out! I regret that I haven't had time to blog for a few days, but I'll be posting material soon.

For readers looking for right-wing propaganda from the horse's mouth, may I also suggest OneNewsNow and Charisma?




23 April, 2015 11:48  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Woody: First, the sites I linked to are not "extreme" or "fringe" on the right. With the possible exception of the Paultard site, they represent the Republican party's base. They're routinely cited on the right wing as respectable and mainstream -- to them.

Second, while there are some (relatively small) wacko groups on the fringe of the left, I don't know of any that are as wacko as these mainstream right-wing elements.

Ahab: Cool, more hatred, thanks! :-) Seriously, I hadn't seen those sites before, but they look like yet further evidence of the delusion and bigotry that holds the opposition in its grip.

23 April, 2015 17:38  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

This post fit in with the one I wrote on Thursday.

Thanks for the clarification on Sharia law.

24 April, 2015 06:11  
Blogger Jono said...

While I do watch a bit of Fox "News" and occasionally read some right wing rags I have a limited tolerance and can only do it for short bursts of time. I try to stop watching or reading just before I yell "fucking idiots!", but am not always successful. I depend on some of you (You, Ahab and Shaw, e.g.)for some of these viewpoints to keep me informed. I have to limit my exposure for reasons of sanity, but I appreciate what you all do.

24 April, 2015 08:44  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Shaw: Yes -- theocracy-wise, this post is about the ideology and your post is about putting it into practice, or attempted practice.

Jono: Thanks. I can see how one could feel one's sanity endangered. Having a warped sense of humor like mine probably helps withstand it. Ahab must have an almost zen-like capacity for observational detachment -- he's been much deeper into the belly of the beast at times.

24 April, 2015 17:56  
Anonymous Zosimus the Heathen said...

Another notorious right-wing site I've heard of is Free Republic. A brother of mine once suggested I take a look at it if I wanted to see some real craziness - one visit, however, was enough to send me running away screaming, vowing never to return (which was pretty much the same reaction I had the first (and only) time I ever visited the vile Vox Day's blog)!

I'm not too familiar with the wingnut sites from my own part of the world, although I know they're out there (the few I've visited have tended to push the idea that we need to privatize and deregulate everything). There was one blog I used to check regularly some years ago called Oz Conservative, which was really conservative; I sort of got the impression the author was one of those "throne and altar" types who think that everything that's happened since the end of the Middle Ages, pretty much, has all been a terrible mistake. Then there was the so-called Social Pathologist, who I believe I've mentioned here before. He was actually a somewhat half-reasonable conservative blogger, until he drank the neoreactionary Kool Aid some years back. Now everything seems to be a big, sinister conspiracy orchestrated by "the Cathedral" in his eyes, and I find that every time I visit his blog now, I end up wanting to drive my fist through my monitor in response to the latest bit of crankery he's spouted.

Most of the right wing sites I've been looking at lately have tended to be Manosphere/Dark Enlightenment ones, though I don't think these types are really all that influential, all their delusions to the contrary notwithstanding. I often find it simultaneously hilarious and terrifying to read the blatherings of the pompous, humorless bores that comprise so many of the individuals in these movements, and reflect that their authors actually believe they have a divine mandate to rule over the rest of us!

29 April, 2015 05:59  

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