Death Cult: The Violent Vision of the Radical Right

Dave Neiwert picks up on the accelerating eliminationist rhetoric issuing from Rad Right poster boy Mark Steyn and his slathering acolytes such as Mark Noonan. Taking off on a story about German efforts to stem a spate of infanticides (23 to be exact, in a nation of 82 million), Steyn cracks wise, then turns the story into a bizarre attack on "the welfare state." First he notes the continuing economic ravages in eastern Germany then, in the very next paragraph, forgets all about this and scornfully dismisses the idea that any woman in "a land of socialized health care and lavish welfare" could ever be desperate enough to get rid of a child. (His obsessive concern with the fertility rates of white women is also a prominent feature of the piece.) Steyn follows up this pretzel logic with a leap from scorn to the genocidal imputations that are an increasing feature of his work:

It's getting harder not to conclude that parts of Europe are evolving into a kind of post-human society.

Neiwert nails the implications of this brutal theme, and follows its slimy trail to Noonan:

Post-human"? The clear implication of this coinage is that these people are also sub-human, or in any event non-human -- and by extension, fully worthy of extinction or elimination.

And then Mark Noonan at Blogs for Bush picked it up and ran with it, extending the reach of these "post humans" to America as well, and concluding thus:

 There are two things which can stop this slide into barbarism and death: the conquest of the west by people who believe in something, or the revival of a west which has returned to its moral and intellectual roots. Those are the choices - be conquered by Moslems (who at least believe in something higher than themselves and their personal pleasures), or become Judeo-Christian. Death or conversion, take your pick.

You know how these things spread. I now look forward to hearing from the usual right-wing suspects -- Limbaugh, Coulter, Savage, Malkin -- describe their pet targets, particularly liberals, as "post-human" as well. Not to mention having it pop up among the trolls. And all points in between.

These people are treading down this path on their own inevitable momentum, and probably nothing can be said to stop that. What we have to wonder, though, is how many people are going to go along with them.

What's more, Noonan's panicky outburst is a prime example of another waxing trend among the gooberati: their ever-growing attraction to the "enemy," the "Islamofascists." More and more, we see these expressions of admiration for the Islamic fundamentalists "who at least believe in something higher than themselves and their personal pleasures." There is also great regard for conservative Islam's virulent opposition to homosexuality, its emphasis on patriarchal rule in the home, its opposition to abortion and family planning. Indeed, the Bush Administration has often aligned the United States with the most retrograde Islamic regimes in opposing international initiatives to give women control over their own bodies, their own fates.

The ludicrous yet revelatory new book by Dinesh D'Souza, The Enemy at Home, carries this tendency to its penultimate extreme. D'Souza blames the "Cultural Left" for causing 9/11 and Islamic terrorism in general. The Islamic extremists, says D'Souza, are actually justified in hating "the West" because of all our loose women, fags, dopeheads, boozehounds, jungle be-bop music and nasty sexy sexy movies, etc. But D'Souza too evinces the same muddled logic that afflicts Steyn, for he goes on to argue that these Islamic extremists are making common cause with the very same loose women, fags, dopeheads and sexy sexy moviemakers of the "Cultural Left" in an effort to destroy America. But then, logic means little to these peddlers of hate-porn: stirring up enmity toward the objects of their bilious prejudice is all that matters.

D'Souza's book is the penultimate extreme, because he doesn't call outright for liberals to be killed. But as Jeffery Feldman noted in an excellent dissection of "D'Souza and the Violent Right," the call for mayhem and murder against the "Cultural Left" is the clear subtext of the book. As Feldman puts it:

Dinesh D'Souza is a paragon of the "violent right"--a new breed of pundits who seek to control public debate by framing all issues through an authoritarian logic of violence....D'Souza explains that the "cultural left" in America is fighting a "war against the war" with agenda of humiliating  Bush that supersedes any concern for protecting the country.  The key to this agenda, he explains, is an alliance between Osama bin Laden and the left--bin Laden supplying "the terror" that the liberals subsequently put to use at home...

But D'Souza is a different kind of voice to emerge in the violent right.  Neither angry nor animated, D'Souza cuts a media image similar to that of a boring, middle school substitute teacher.  He is a quiet, unassuming man using soft tones as he both writes and speaks about the need to battle and destroy liberals with the same ferocity as we kill terrorists...The already relentless accusations from the Republican right that liberals are "weak"--this critique is the political equivalent of an ignorant oversight, according to D'Souza's argument.  Liberals, he tells us, are not weak.  They are active accomplices to murder--or rather, they are actively engaged in seeing that others commit murder.  

The image of a boring, middle school substitute teacher, masking a ferociously violent mind -- hmm, that sounds familiar, like some figure out of the not-so-distant past:

An exaggeration? Feldman goes on:

But D'Souza does not stop at accusing liberals of murder qua individuals.  In his writing there is a far larger problem that requires a far more comprehensive application of violence.  It is the "actions" of liberal "culture" that lead to the murder of Americans:

The left is responsible for 9/11 in the following ways.   First, the cultural left has fostered a decadent American culture that angers and repulses traditional societies, especially those in the Islamic world, that are being overwhelmed with this culture.   In addition, the left is waging an aggressive global campaign to undermine the traditional patriarchal family and to promote secular values in non-Western cultures.   This campaign has provoked a violent reaction from Muslims who believe that their most cherished beliefs and institutions are under assault.  Further, the cultural left has routinely affirmed the most vicious prejudices about American foreign policy held by radical factions in the Muslim world, and then it has emboldened those factions to attack the United States with the firm conviction that "America deserves it" and that they can do so with relative impunity.   Absent these conditions, Osama Bin Laden would never have contemplated the 9/11 attacks, nor would the United States today be the target of Islamic radicals throughout the world.  Thus when leading figures on the left say, "We made them do this to us," in a sense they are correct.  They are not correct that "America" is to blame.  But their statement is true in that their actions and their America are responsible for fostering Islamic anti-Americanism in general and 9/11 in particular.  

Guilty of murder, penalty: death...Thus, in his own quiet way, spectacles slipping gently down his nose, D'Souza incites his reader to see liberals as an immoral foot on the neck of the nation.  The only logical conclusion is to rise up against them.  Talk is how we ended up here in the first place.  D'Souza's argument coaxes his reader to reach for the knife...

Americans who dismiss the power and danger of D'Souza's argument do so at great risk to the public sphere of free debate in this country.  By the time the arena of public ideas is overtaken by D'Souza's toxic and contagious language of violence, it will be too late to turn it back. Violence for D'Souza is not a turn of phrase, but a worldview. His goal is not expertise, but power...The violent writing of Dinesh D'Souza should serve a warning of what America may soon face if Congressional leaders fail to reawaken a clear understanding between power and violence in all aspects  of American policy.  And Americans must all relearn these basic lessons before the violent right grasps the full extent of its political collapse--for in that moment, all restraints on right-wing responses to the progressive political participation will vanish.

This is the sulfurous flame burning in the blast furnaces of the Radical Right: the ranting radio, the TV tirades, the politicized pulpits, the deep-pocketed publishing houses and think tanks that pump out their poison to millions of people every day. As Neiwert astutely notes, the momentum of this rhetoric -- this deliberate choice to embrace eliminationism and the language of violence as mainstream political tools -- is carrying the Right hurtling down the path toward brownshirts and murder, toward night and fog. You think "it can't happen here?" It's happening right in front of your eyes.