Cross-posted from the Roosevelt Institute’s New Deal 2.0 blog.
by Harvey Kaye
Bizarre revisions of American history are disturbing enough — but the violence in the ‘joking’ should be condemned.
Keeping an eye on conservatives as I do, I was intrigued by a popular new title, “365 Ways to Drive a Liberal Crazy” from Regnery Publishing. Written by James Delingpole — who, the jacket blurb states, “terrorizes liberals on both sides of the Atlantic” in the pages of Human Events, The Spectator, and The Daily Telegraph — “365 Ways” is billed as a work that will enable you to “brighten your day and darken a liberal’s.”
It’s interesting to consider what conservatives find funny. The book contains some “friendly” jokes like “Q: What’s the difference between a liberal and a puppy? A: A puppy stops whining after it grows up,” and “Q: Why do liberals like smart women? A: Opposites attract”. (Is this an admission that conservatives like “dumb women”??)
A few entries are truly ominous, such as “Q: What do you call a thousand liberals at the bottom of the sea? A: A good start” and “SAY A PRAYER: Dear Lord, you took my favorite actor Patrick Swayze. You took my favorite actress Farah Fawcett. You took my favorite singer Michael Jackson. I just wanted to let you know that my favorite president is Barack Obama.” Do liberals make these sorts of sick jokes about conservatives? It doesn’t seem to be our cup of tea.
A lot of the “daily” recommendations go after Obama, his health care reform program, and the supposed inanity of liberalism. The author encourages readers to “refer freely and interchangeably to ‘liberals,’ ‘socialists,’ ‘Reds,’ ‘progressives,’ ‘Commies,’ ‘left-wing bastards,’ ‘pinkos,’ ‘Trots,’ ‘Nazis,’ etc.” Now clearly, most of that is the usual fare spouted by reactionaries — McCarthyites in the past, Gingrichites and Tea Partiers today — and I suppose I can even live with “left-wing bastards.” But Nazis? Talk about stupid… Talk about turning the world inside out… Had it been up to the “America First” political right in 1941, we might all be “Heil Hitlering” today (at least the non-Jews among us).
Of course, Delingpole just had to attack FDR and the New Deal. It’s all the rage on the right, you know. Delingpole writes:
CONSERVATIVE HISTORY: Describe how, contrary to cozy liberal myth, the Great FDR managed to prolong the Great Depression by seven years. Research by UCLA economists Harold L. Cole and Lee Ohanian has shown that the anti-competition and pro-labor measures Roosevelt signed into law as part of his New Deal stalled what could have been a “beautiful recovery.”
Conservative history? Rightwing revisionism and delusion, I’d say.
Then Delingpole joins the right-wing campaign to appropriate Revolutionary patriot Thomas Paine (after having done everything they could for 200 years to bury his memory and legacy):
ON HIS BIRTHDAY (FEBRUARY 9), QUOTE THOMAS PAINE, WHO FORESAW 250 YEARS AGO JUST WHERE THE UNITED STATES COULD GO WRONG: “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”
How absurd. Delingpole, like others of his ilk, completely ignores the fact that Paine was both a radical democrat and a pioneering social democrat (regarding the former, read all of “Common Sense“, which, by the way, was published not 250 but 235 years ago; and on the latter, peruse “Rights of Man” and “Agrarian Justice“).
But then again, when did conservatives and reactionaries ever worry about the facts?
Harvey J. Kaye is the Ben & Joyce Rosenberg Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the author of Thomas Paine and the Promise of America. He is currently writing The Four Freedoms and the Promise of America. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/HarveyJKaye