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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, May 14, 2004


The New Bigotry

posted by Dana at Friday, May 14, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Since David Brooks launched his Media Matters Web site, aimed at documenting the right-wing media conspiracy's excesses, one big story has emerged.

That is a new, violent anti-Arab bigotry that reminds me (as a Southerner) of nothing so much as another rising of the KKK. It started with Limbaugh -- Brooks documents both the statements and the condemnation -- but it has now extended throughout the right, to Savage, Oliver North, and Dick Morris.

Lee Harris at TechCentral Station has documented the view and found it widespread. He is plainly worried:

Many Americans simply wish the Arabs would go away; others wish to blow them away -- and wish to blow them away not because they see this step as inevitable and tragic, but because they rejoice at the prospect of getting them back for what they have done to us. Most normal Americans today just don't care any more about the Arabs and their welfare, or about their humiliation, or about their historical grievances, simply because all the images that come to us from their world horrify and appall us, including the disturbing images of Americans doing things that no normal American would ever dream of doing to other people back at home, if only because they would never be given the opportunity.

This is how most normal Americans now feel, but they dare not express it in public. But make no mistake, this feeling will be expressed -- somehow, somewhere: a fact of which our leaders and the world must be made aware before it occurs.

Matthew Yglesias says we should be, too:

I'm foreseeing an ugly future. Kerry wins the election and begins the slow, painful process of rebuilding the American military, American alliances, and American global credibility. Meanwhile, on the right a new "stab in the back" theory has already emerged and the forces of resentment are growing. "We came to help them and they turned on us -- now they must pay!"

The question for Dean Nation is, are we worried? Should we be worried? In the short run, this "hate all Arabs" view can be manipulated to our benefit, as a reason to get out of Iraq. In the longer run, the same people can then turn on us as traitors for doing just what they wanted us to do in getting out. "Who Lost Iraq" would become the new McCarthyism's cry, as "Who Lost China" was two generations ago.

We are in the process of dehumanizing 1 billion people, based on the images of this war, and unleashing a hatred on the right that, lacking Arabs to kill, could easily consume all of us.

So how do we respond?


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.