Thursday, August 6, 2009

Say Anything?

As has been readily obvious on You Tube and other sources, the right-wing and its allies on talk radio are doing their damnedest to derail Obama’s plan for healthcare reform, which in itself there is nothing wrong with if it comes down to a simple difference in political philosophy.

What truly bothers me, however, is the tool these hyper-partisans are using: fear - via comparisons to government programs (including Medicare, evidently) as Nazism, and something that will enable jackbooted thugs to drag seniors away at a pre-determined age, and thrown them into cattle cars to be “processed” by the Obama Administration.

To anyone with a brain, this may seem like lunatic thinking, but consider the cynical truth behind the following quote:

“A person is smart, but people are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.”

A line from Nietzsche? Not exactly.

It’s actually from the 1997 movie “Men In Black” when Tommy Lee Jones’ secret agent explains why the evidence of aliens living on Earth must be covered up to prevent mass panic. And think about it – as whacked-out as it sounds, the line is dead on. It takes very little for human beings to go from calm and rational to “panicky, dangerous animals” if the right emotional buttons are pushed in sequence, and no emotion is perhaps more potent than fear, panic, and paranoia - which brings me back to the current healthcare debate, and its detractors on talk radio who casually toss out comparisons between Obama and Nazism.

Sadly, when fans of personalities like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh seem to conveniently forget is that much of their audience takes every word they say as unvarnished truth, and when Obama and healthcare initiatives are openly likened to the Third Reich, to an extremist mindset—such as Timothy McVeigh’s—it’s like pouring gas on a fire, inspiring them to take matters into their own hands, possibly through the barrel of a gun.

For obvious reasons, this demeanor is a potential threat to the safety of the President Obama, and is something the Secret Service keeps tabs on extremist organizations for.

Since the near-assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981, the Secret Service has done an outstanding job protecting their charges, but in light of the current hysteria being whipped up on talk radio, I fear that keeping Obama safe may be much harder than with any president in recent history.

Free speech is a key backbone of American democracy, but when it intentionally gins up fear which then evolves into paranoia, rage, and finally a potential for violence, when does free speech (such as that practiced by Limbaugh) become truly dangerous?

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