Who are those people? They look like ordinary citizens but they act like maniacs, screaming at members of congress who want to discuss health care coverage for the tens of millions, including themselves, who are either uninsured or may become so tomorrow. They shout gibberish into the microphones of reporters, things like “I don’t have a job. I don’t have health insurance. Keep the government out of my business!” No one could make this up.
They spread incomprehensible nonsense about President Obama’s birth, and prevent their children from listening to a U.S. president, THEIR president, speak to them in the classroom, as other presidents have in the past.
At first glance they seem to have sprung from the media’s imagination, manufactured to placate the mindless and fill time between stories devoted to happy talk about Wall Street and the ‘recovering’ economy.
It’s a strategy that has worked perfectly well with any number of other nonsense issues. Currently there’s swine flu, a subject that fills up hours of broadcast time with over blown, irrational scare tactics for a disease that appears slightly less lethal than the common cold.
Before swine flu there was SARS, once sold as a major public health threat, which vanished from the airways and our memories without a trace; Bird Flu, which on a slow news day can still be jimmied up for an evening news cast; and any number of sex scandals used primarily to generate ill-will among the mindless and eliminate political actors disliked by the corporate media, like Eliot Spitzer who posed a major threat to the likes of Bernie Madoff .
There is lots of pandering to the vacuous about missing and murdered young women, whom the media much prefers over missing and murdered young men, or the utterly inconsequential acts of buffoons like Joe Wilson.
But nothing makes better television than mindless outrage with home made signs.
Is there any method to the collective madness of the tea party goers, or are the red-faced, eyes-popping insurrectionists just the close-minded, self centered nincompoops they appear?
Hannah Erendt coined the phrase ‘The banality of evil’ to describe the daily capitulation to depravity in Hitler’s Germany. Her premise was that Hitler’s enablers, like Adolph Eichmann, were not sociopaths but ordinary people who substituted the will of the group for their own judgment.
Adolph Eichmann was one of the Nazis responsible for shipping Jews and others to Hitler’s concentration camps and gas chambers. When brought to justice his defense, like that of virtually all war criminals, then and now, was that he was only following orders. He had no particular feelings for or against those whose deaths he arranged. He did it because he was told to; it was his job.
He did it because he was part of a group whose members all believed that mass murder of ‘others’ was ok.
Like others of the mindless class, Adolph Eichmann acquiesced to groupthink because he had either no capacity to think for himself or was simply too pathologically lazy to make the effort. His judgment and his conscience were farmed out to his preferred collection of sociopaths.
When the group makes all value judgments, the life of the member gets much less complicated. There is no need to obsess about right or wrong. No need to consider the lives of others, the impact of personal decisions, the requirements of a sustainable neighborhood, the future or the past. No need for morals, scruples or principles and no place for self doubt. The group takes care of it all.
If we accept the premise that everyday, garden variety evil is the narcissistic need to escape the turmoil of thinking, the world of the mindless comes into better focus.
It’s no secret that the Progressive Left seems to have a monopoly on internet blog sites. While sites like this one team with original writers sharing their ideas, the Right, deprived as it is of originality, creativity, and the ability to put a logical thought or a coherent sentence together, readily embrace marginally demented spokesmen who are given the power to reach millions by the corporate media, people like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly. These surrogates mirror the frustration and fear of the mindless class who get a fleeting sense of belonging and power as they channel their own destructive anger into a larger destructive force.
The Republican Party serves the interests of a tiny percent of Americans but gets around 50% of the vote in every election. The great majority of those who vote Republican are voting against their own welfare. If not for their intellectual emptiness, they’d likely be part of us.
Most of today’s tea party participants are mini, mindless, Adolph Eichmanns. If their tactics, abetted by media collusion, successfully promote their negative agenda on health care, they will have accomplished the nearly impossible task of winning on a position that makes them losers.
The Nuremburg war crimes tribunal, standing in for civil society, refused to accept the idea that people can escape responsibility for their actions by blaming the group. The court did not regard the refusal to think a viable defense. Each criminal was punished alone.
But his victims were still dead.