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January 22, 2006

Comments

DarkSyde

LOL, why is communication so difficult with that gang? I said exactly who I was and I said exactly why I was there. I noted that they linked us, not the other way around, and that they brought up the comparisons between party ideology and OBL, not me. I told them straight up I was there to ask them some hard questions but that I didn't think all conservatives have bad ideas and that I'm not even a democrat and never have been.

I asked a legit question to wit: How do supporters of the GOP reconcile the fact that the goals of the extremist religious wing of the party share so many parallels with fundamentalist Islam and OBL specifically? And that's a fair question, there are many more similarities in social policy between OBL and Wahhabism in general and the far right social conservatives than between OBL and Wahhabism and any other major faction here in the US. I mean that's simply a fact.

Now I don't know if you really read through the responses, but perhps you missed the "We've raped guys like in prison" remarks, the name calling, the dogding, and the few respondants who did manage to point out that sharing commonalities with Osama bin Laden doesn't make on a terrorist sympathizer promptly contradicted themslves by apply that exact accuration against what they seem to call "The Left'. Maybe there were some reasonable comments mixed in with the nuts and the threats of deviant rape, and I'm sure there are some thoughtful posters at that blog. But sad to say, they're simply lost among the shrill nutcases.

And really, that's too bad. Becuase had they responded in consensus with good points and civil discussion I would have thought fqvorably of them and said so. As it was, they served as a sort of freakish muse inspiring me to write a front page article on the largest blog on earth using them as background entertainment for our readers.

I agree BTW, bin Laden is probably happy to produce division. I doubt he really sees much difference between what we think of as left and right.

The Lone Elm

DarkSyde, Thank you for your comment. I clearly understood that you were not a Democrat. I did read all the comments. My impression was that you and the other commenters were talking right past each other. I couldn't tell why this was -- maybe they were skeptical of your genuine interest in a dialogue? Certainly the diversions of the "shrill nutcases" didn't make the process any easier, and engaging them really does not get one anywhere. But there were some people that were trying to have a genuine discussion. I thought you made good efforts to try to establish some basis for reasoned discussion, however the ties to Kos probably did not help your credibility. Also, your latest post in Kos is not going to help either -- it is just fanning the flames of the loyal Kos readers instead. And from what I can tell, Kos is part of the "Liberal Bubble" that Lifson discusses in his piece. If you are really interested in bridging the gap, perhaps you should start an independent weblog where you can stake out a clearly unique position.

Ken McCracken

DarkSyde, you yourself are in some kind of bubble if you think that Wahabism shares anything in common with
the 'extremist religious wing' of the Republican party, as you put.

Believing that abortion is wrong does not make you an 'extremist'.

The 'extremist religious wing' of the Republican party believes in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, they believe in democracy and free expression, they do not want to execute homosexuals, they do not seek to impose a worldwide theocracy, they do not strap bombs to themselves and blow themselves up in pizzerias and discos - they share NOTHING in common with fundamentalist Islam.

Therefore, the argument that those comparing OBL with the Left are somehow contradicting themselves completely falls flat.

You, unfortunately, believe in a comic book cariacature of religious folk in the US, as do so many people on the Left, whose ignorance and bigotry has caused a great divide in this country.

DarkSyde

Ken,

OBL and Wahhabist Islam indeed do share a great deal with the religious right, starting with the Old Testament which they both use virtually identical in text and continuing right onto similar views on women's rights, homosexuality, abortion, stem cell research and related reproductive issues, creationism, God as the source of morality, epistemology (I.e. Philosophical naturalism Vs Supernaturalism) revealed knowledge, and onto larger theological dilemmas relating to traditional questions re Free Will Vs Omnipotence and other apologetics. That's a partial list but enough to get the idea and those items of convergence are (Hopefully) beyond dispute as being similar between the two more so than any secular faction in the US and more so than any major faction of any kind in the US. call the religous right a comic caricature, but I'm on most major pray lists and right wing quasi secret e mails and the commonalities I've broadly outlined above are a fair representation of what they send me every day.

Bear in mind, those guys linked us, not the other way around, they linked me, not the other way around, and they were the ones who brought up comparisons between individuals and party ideologies to terrorists like OBL: Not the other way around. So it's fair game to point out that in fact the parallels between OBL and in fact any fundamentalist ANE theology are of course going to be greater than similar comparisons with non fundamentalist or secular orgs and ideologies. You saw that they didn't like that very much. I don't blame them for not liking it, yet they thought it was a dandy and totally valid comparison to make with Americans of differing viewpoints until faced with the unpleasant truth.

Lone Elm,

My pleasure and I appreciate your courtesy. In my view, I don't think it was so much that we were talking past each other as they were pretty much cornered by their own bullshit. The honest response is the obvious truth, which one or two respondents did try to present: Having something in common with an unpleasant or disreputable person, place, or ideology does mean you're in league with that person. And that's a perfectly valid point. The problem is, as soon as they admit they, they destroy their own prior comparisons between "The Left" and OBL/AQ with the exact same reasoning. Thus they find themselves faced with either constructing a shaky case for a parallel more with the left or the secular world than with the right or the ANE theology, and that's a piece of cake to knock down, because OBL and any ANE fundamentalist dogma based on common documents is always going to be more similar than non ANE based secular ideology.

And I must admit that I was more interested in the effect of the question, their reaction to it, than their answers anyway. I was simply curious if it would prove a useful offensive weapon in the dreary attacks from the right that critics of Bush or others are similar to, and therefore allies of, Al Qaeda. And it does work to that effect. It shuts them down cold, they go into a tailspin of frantic ad homs, no comment, or complex responses which don't hold up and which can't be condensed into a soundbite anyway. I was straight up about who I was and what I wanted to know, but my ulterior motive was research into that reaction prior to writing some articles and text for political advisors.

DarkSyde

"Doesn't mean you're in league with" sorry. I've been typing too much today. I should also add that the blog owner over there was enough of a gentlemen (Or lady) not to delete my comments which I think is a sign of intellectual courage.

The Lone Elm

DarkSyde, thanks for your further comments. I agree that protein wisdom was quite benevolent in letting the dialogue range as far as it did.

With respect to your comments and your intent to use the results of your investigation in political use, I am wondering what audience in the political spectrum you think will find your viewpoint compelling and move votes your way? Quite frankly, the extremes on either side are only going to be further persuaded or repelled, so the application there is pretty limited. The part of the political spectrum available for persuasion is the middle. And, I don't quite see how those in the middle are attracted by the "bin Laden is like" kind of argument (as the protein wisdom debate showed). It is a polarizing argument, not one that is designed to bring in those in the middle. I am interested in your viewpoint on this -- what is your objective, who are you focussing on and why do you think this is productive?

DarkSyde

The idea behind any wedge issue is to make one group uncomfortable with the stance of another within the same caucus and peel away voters. It's common knowledge of course that the current alliance of moderate conservatives and the more extreme religious right types are ripe for a such a 'wedgie' to be applied. The public supports RvW, the public supports stem cell research, the public doesn't like the idea of restricting or eliminating birth control, the public doesn't like racism, etc. At least that's what polls show and the data is robust. All those elements exist to some degree in the religious right and some of their goals are frankly repugnant and down right un American to non religious right members.

In that vein, one explores various ideas which may prove fruitful in splitting support. Then you take the best of the ideas and run them through a couple of campaign cycles, say the upcoming midterms. Some may work, some may not. Those that do work, if any, you then apply nationally in the next cycle. That's in a nutshell is one way alliances are used against the caucus and elections can be won. It is clearly obvious from voter data that the religious right is crucial to the success of the GOP for the foreseeable future. They can't win much of anything without them, but they also need the mods. So there are a number of weaknesses inherent in that partnership.

The goal then, at least one them, would be to pull out the less desirable elements of the extreme right for a good public airing. It might be that comparing them to bin Laden or Islamic fundamentalism will work, it may not. But it's only one avenue to explore in bringing them to light, in flipping over the rock so to speak and letting the public see the slimy critters underneath. That's what the bin Laden comparison to the religious right may prove useful for. And at the very least it acts as a return volley to the same tacticians using it against the left. It works better for the left imo becuase it is accurate in the sense the religious right shares more in common with fundamentalist religious doctrine than any other group, so it passes that test. And bin Laden is a useful icon to drive home the undesirable aspects of letting clerics (Or preachers) run everything.

Probably the biggest danger to the unity of the GOP right now is RvW. In my own extended family there are several soccer moms types and several professional women, the latter all work in aerospace or defense as my wife does (We live near Kennedy Space Center). And when those normally moderately Republican gals get together and chat, and someone suggests that RvW will be overturned by a predominantly male Supreme Court, heh, well lets just say the reception among those women is not warm :0. I remember the other day one of the most hard core of them said "Goddamit if they mess with birth control or abortion I'll vote for freakin Hillary if I have to" and this particular gal hated Clinton.

If RvW is overturned it will be the end of the GOP as we currently know it. They won't gain any votes and they'll probably lose a significant fraction. So all this game theory and wedge issues might end up being for naught anyway. But it's interesting stuff and the dems up to now have really sucked at it. But they're learning and they have an unpopular administration stuck in an increaisngly unpopular war to work with. The funny thing is, if it does end up working or if a variation ends up working, we never would have thought of it had the right wing bloggers not been running around saying "bin Laden is a lefty".

So I went to a couple of larger forums. ID'd myself and posed the question. You can see the results. It's pretty tough to say "Hey wait! Comparisons to bin Laden only counts when I want it to count" and make any consistent sense. So most of them I think intuitively sensed the weakness and fell back on "We rape guys like you in prison" LOL, which would be gold if you got someone to blurt that out on tape or a radio interview.

But I don't know if it is productive or will be. One clue that it *might* be is how those on the right react. When they go into a sharply defensive mode, replete with tangental ad homs and flagrant insults of the type we saw on the other venue, that's generally a sign a nerve has been hit. But it may turn out to be a dud, only time will tell. It's simply an experimental weapon, a potential arrow in a future quiver. No biggie if it doesn't pan out.

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