There's an infestation of trolls on Bill Maher's comment page - vicious, rampant Rightwing beings, insulting, narrow-minded, ugly, white individuals - you know the type: The sort you see on the news at Town Maulings. One is particularly bad. He appears to be a career militarist. His MySpace page reveals that, whilst he attended a college, he didn't take a degree. He's in the Navy, and he describes himself as 'a proud parent.' He reminds me of a particular cousin of mine, who was raised in a Southern household, but one with Progressive, liberal leanings - what his mother would call 'a Democratic kitchen.' This cousin chose to attend Virginia Military Institute and came out brainwashed in Reagan rhetoric, which descended, over the years, into Rush rhetoric.
My cousin regularly argues political dogma with me by e-mail, and consistently insults me with ad hominem remarks, but he always ends his e-mails by reminding me how much affection he holds for me - affection, but not esteem. However, this stranger troll, on Bill's page, has targeted me, but in his assault on me, he always manages to link whatever insult he's levelling against my opinion or my intelligence to Bill as well. Thus, he's called us 'windbags', and his latest rant insinuated that we were 'unAmerican elitists.'
Well, I always suspected Bill Maher and I were spiritual twins separated at birth, but this takes the assumption to a new level. I remember a time from the 2008 Presidential campaign - already, memories of that are quick upon us - when the Queen of the Trolls, herself, Sarah Palin, was fresh on the scene, casting aspersions on anyone who found himself or herself in possession of a first class university degree, anyone able to warble a word of more than two syllables, anyone who trusted science as fact rather than mythology and folk philosophy bound into a book and marketed as 'faith', as 'elitist'. In that respect, and for certain tranches of people, 'elitist' became as filthy and fearful a word as 'paedophile' or 'pervert.'
Yet scarcely a week after Palin's fateful utterance, I recall Bill, in his opening monologue, exhorting people to take the 'elitist' epithet, turn it into something positive, and wave that banner with pride. After all, and I'm sure Mrs Palin and most of her followers failed to realise this, the United States was conceived in liberty by a gaggle of classically educated men who were spawns of the Age of Enlightenment, all of whom, both by the dictates of their time and our contemporary era, would be classed as 'elitists.'
Not many Rightwing trolls know that, although a fair few of them seem fond of quoting Thomas Jefferson's blood of martyrs watering the tree of liberty line.
Well, if the wingnuts are right, and there is a God who'll have a Judgement Day, I want to be standing at the right hand of my spiritual twin, when we're assigned a passage on the boat crossing the river Styx into hell, condemned there by a trollish God for being elitist, unAmerican windbags. At least, I'll be in good company.
What amazes me, however, is how trolls seem to have pervaded America in every echelon of political life. If Sarah Palin is the Troll Queen, then I suppose Karl Rove must be her king. After all, it was Rove who decided that the ex-Republican strategist, Matthew Dowd, had the right idea, when Dowd opined that the Republicans should ignore courting independent voters and galvanise the base.
And there's the rub: The Republican base is primarily rural, agrarian, uneducated or undereducated, and religious. In God they trust, and everybody else pays cash. They are what the Europeans would call, in another age and time, peasants. Peones. The great unwashed. So the Republicans promised a theocratic government to these people and invested power-brokerage ability in the hands of the Ernest T Basses and Gomer Pyles of this world; and unlike Ernest T, these people don't throw rocks, they multitask and shoot guns, whilst reading their Bibles.
Sarah and Karl throw out zingers to their zealots and send them forth to troll the land that's become Blue America, sowing seeds of fear and distrust and hoping they'll take root. For healthcare reform, read 'death panels'. Re-engaging multi-laterally with our allies in the world means 'showing weakness.' Having an intelligent, articulate, thinking man at the helm of our government, suddenly means his legitimacy as an American citizen is questioned, he's accused of 'palling around with terrorists,' and he's shouted down as a liar to his face in the very Congress of the United States of America. Joe Wilson, people, is a troll.
And all collective souls that rebelled against the United States in the era of the Civil War, who spun their desire to continue the institution of slavery under the guise of 'states' rights' can roll to the right in their graves at the thought that the fruit of the loins of their descendents are ugly, mealy-mouthed and whining little gremlin-like beings we're accustomed to meeting under bridges in the realms of fairy tales. Well, it looks as though when fairy tales are brought into reality, they become horror stories.
What's a horror story without a wicked witch and scary clown? Who else but Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck?
Bachmann comes to prominence by reducing the usually loquacious Chris Matthews to stupified silence by proclaiming various Congressional members of the blue persuasion as being unAmerican (that word again) and calling for investigations into 'unAmerican activities.' Joe McCarthy lives again and hails, once more, from Minnesota. Strange that a state that can spawn Al Franken and Hubert Humphrey can also give rise to political detritus such as this woman, who accuses the President of establishing secret FEMA concentration camps and who exhorts people to actually slit their wrists in order to become blood brothers in a protest against the American census. I can only assume that she doesn't realise that to slit one's wrists can prove to be fatal, and with such a shrinking base, these people need all the followers they can muster; or maybe she does hope to promote martyrs for their 'cause', as long as she's not one of the fallen.
Beck the clown is more Chucky the evil doll. He's another exhorter, whose irresponsible use of free speech has already resulted in someone going on a killing rampage because Beck opined that Obama's next objective would be to send policemen after people's guns. He enforces his followers' sense of disenfranchisement by turning the screw that the President is actually racist, with a deep-seeded hatred of white people, whilst at the same time, acknowledging that Obama actually is better for the country than John McCain would have been. Better for Beck, probably, because it's given him more fodder to foist on his rank fire of invective. And when all else fails, Glenn, give us a few tears for your country, and this will eventually result in some poor sod, being frogmarched to a place in a forest where Dan'l Boone killed a bear and hung from a similar tree, with the word 'FED' etched onto the flesh of his chest. For what? For doing his job.
Beck and Bachmann, people, are trolls.
I'm not even mentioning Rush Limbaugh, because in the theocratic world created in the minds of these bastions of the Right, Limbaugh would occupy God's throne.
The lunatics really have taken over the asylum, so much so, that it's almost comical to watch Eric Cantor, a Republican and a Southern Jew, a cultured and educated man, assume a facial expression akin to acute constipation, as he stands idly by and lets these bloviators ... well, bloviate. Lindsey Graham, a leftover from the age of Ashley Wilkesian effete Southern gallantry, keeps his dainty mouth firmly shut in a mien of disapproval, all the while looking as though he wants the earth to open and swallow him with an enormous gulp.
There's an old Greek proverb, oft-quoted, which says that a fish stinks from its head; and from the highest echelons of the Right comes the clarion call to trolldom. It assumes the guise of the First Amendment and asserts its right to freedom of speech. I'm all for civilised debate. I welcome a conservative point of view; but there's a difference between debate and discussion and vengefully personal attacks aimed at shouting an opponent down, thus, denying the opponent 'freedom of speech'; and that is unconstitutional.
I understand these people are afraid of a changing world around them. I understand that they feel disenfranchised. A lot of Democrats felt that way as well, especially during the last 8 years. A lot of people are wondering now why the Left didn't make more of an aggressive show in the face of Bushco rampant on the American scene. Many progressives deem that lack of protest a sign of weakness, but these people must remember that civil liberties were curtailed by Rovian antics, and the Constitution, itself, was deemed a mere scrap of paper. Truth is, the trolls ruled the roost until 2008, and they were de-throned. They've now assumed a hard-core and primitive protest stance. We on the Left recognise them to be nothing more than domestic terrorists, but it's worth noting that today's terrorist most always becomes tomorrow's freedom fighter.
To paraphrase Bill Maher: Not all Republicans are trolls, but if you're a troll, you're probably a Republican.