Extreme right is inflaming situation

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 9, 2010

My table has four legs. An elephant has four legs. Therefore, my table is an elephant.

Uh, no. Plainly, the likeness in number of limbs is undeniable but insignificant. The differences between tables and elephants are far greater than any surface similarities. In essence, tables are not elephants. In no meaningful way are they even elephantine or elephantesque. The equation of the two is elephantastically absurd.

But why waste time debunking such bunk? No one in their right mind would confuse furniture for Disney’s Dumbo. No, but apparently, some in their “right” mind would. Because this same wildly flawed logic taints the thinking of far too many on the political right. Specifically, those who propagate one or more of the current big lies about President Obama.

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Such as, “Obama is a Nazi” and/or “Obama is a communist.” Here too, a couple of points of superficial resemblance do not equal identity. In this comparison, the contrasts are overwhelming, the parallels scant. Obama is a totalitarian (of any variety) to exactly the same degree that tables are elephants. Reasonable people will agree, they’re not, he’s not.

Of course, most making these allegations wouldn’t know genuine Marxist doctrine if it bit them on the right rosy cheek of their “dialectic,” wouldn’t know Nazi history if it kicked them in their overexposed “schicklgruber.” But, to compound the foolery, there are those who conjure up the double whammy of “Obama is a commu-nazi” (a Hitler-Stalin love child, I suppose), even though such an ideologically impossible hybrid has never existed in the annals of mankind. It’s all too revealing that, like the jabberwock of nonsense poetry, commu-nazis are found only in the pages of nonsense history.

Such drivel undermines the credibility of the other Obamaphobic charges. That, for example, Obama is not a “natural born” American. Or, that he’s secretly a Muslim, and maybe the anti-Christ. Or, that he plotted to cause the World Financial Crisis of 2008 to ensure his election, so he could become a dictator (whether of the jabber-nazi or commu-wock sort is unclear), and create a network of concentration/death camps for those nave enough to answer the census.

Ye gods!

These obviously aren’t the allegations of mere misjudgment, dishonesty or incompetence that are routinely hurled at administrations, sometimes justifiably. They aim to de-legitimize Obama as president, to portray him as an enemy of our bedrock values, to cast him as evil.

As such, they go beyond the criticism of a loyal opposition, and instead are dangerously inflammatory. But if the assertions are true, say the suspicious, maybe a little fire wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Therefore, to these Obamaphobes, I say categorically, urgently that you are frighteningly, bizarrely wrong. The foundation of your “facts” is as cracked as bottomland buckshot in July. The train of your logic ran off the tracks at the first turn. Your historical analogies are impoverished. Your conspiracy theories are feral fantasies.

Having stated my alarm, let me stress that there’s nothing alarming about fervent disapproval of Obama’s policies. Many intelligent, principled people do just that. Good. Sharp, full-throated debate is the lifeblood of democracy. In our politics, I hanker for more barbed sarcasm, less milquetoast decorum. Razor-tongued, Churchillian mockery is as musical to my ear as the mockingbird’s song in the morning.

But even the most bitingly partisan dispute must be based on verifiable evidence and reason, not the nightmares of the lunatic fringe. Such zealots always inhabit the dark leftist and rightist extremes of debate. However, when their incoherent fever dreams begin to infect the mainstream, as is happening now from cable news to talk radio to the halls of Congress (and to the letters to the editor in this newspaper), it’s time for alarm.

Barack Obama doesn’t threaten our constitutional system, nor does passionate disagreement with him. But this outbreak of malicious paranoia most assuredly does. Enough.

So, to the rational Obama critics, I say categorically, express your displeasure to your hearts’ content, right after publicly disowning the irrational demagogues that embarrass your cause.

Because, whatever else he is or isn’t, Obama is not a Hitler, or a Muslim, or the anti-Christ or a Kenyan by birth.

To claim otherwise is not only perilous, it is elephantastically absurd.

Jim Wiggins is a Natchez resident.