So we’re once again at the end of another year; I just recently broke myself of the habit of writing “2012” as the date, to turn around and find it’s already 2015.
This has been a hell of a year; I don’t think anyone will dispute that. The stories came hard and fast, blending together and wrapping themselves tightly around right-wing narratives. Since the year’s over at the stroke of midnight on Wednesday, I think it’s a good time now to reflect on what this year has given us, and what stories were birthed from the paranoid right-wing noise-o-sphere.
Facebook offers a feature called “Your year in Review,” and now, so does AATTP. Buckle up, Right-Wing America, here’s your year in review:
Ebola’s Gonna Destroy the United States
Our first stop is magical time of late October, early November, in the lead up of the election. The word that was on everyone’s lips was a nefariously foreign-sounding word that, during peak infection, was afflicted on as many Americans as marriage to Kim Kardashian: Ebola.
You remember Ebola, right? How could you forget? The World Was Ending™, and those skurry furreners was comin’ to get us. Obama was importing Ebola to make us more like Africa and to use as a weapon against Whites, anti-choice groups were going bananas over the vaccination, and Rand Paul informed us that Ebola was more contagious than HIV. Fat lesbians even got all of the Ebola dollars.
It was an catastrophe. Such a catastrophe, in fact, the Republicans managed to turn it into a campaign issue and run on it. It reached a fevered pitch right before the election, and then . . .
And then what, you ask? Well, the media dropped it. Ebola fell off the radar. Almost as soon as the election was over it vanished.
For those curious, the crisis is still ongoing. Scotland just recently had its first case of Ebola. There are also accusations that the austerity policies of the International Monetary Fund helped cause it.
You know, those same austerity policies that Americans elected in November. Sleep well!
Obamacare’s Gonna Destroy the United States
Ah, Obamacare. Our next stop in the Wayback Machine is earlier this year, before the open enrollment for Obamacare was going to kick-off. The right-wing were predicting unmitigated disaster: warnings of unemployment, total destruction of the economy, and Koch-funded nightmare fuel was pumped near-daily into our idiot boxes. Fox did a number of well-researched stories, and things were looking doubleplusungood for real ‘Murrkan’s.
I remember the day that the enrollment opened up. I’m pretty sure it was raining pigs and cats and dogs were sleeping together in the streets. The antichrist might have won approval from every country on the planet that day, quoting all their names in alphabetical order in front of the United Nations.
As the enrollment figures trickled in, it became apparent that the world wasn’t going to end. In fact, the numbers surpassed all expectations, and things were looking ugl(ier) for the Republicans in the midterms. The success of Obamacare brought out the real whackjobs, and in the end, netted us a replacement Michelle Bachmann that’s probably even crazier than the original.
So here we are, at the end of the year, and looking back Obamacare’s been a good thing — not great, it could be better — but good enough for the GOP to promise yet another attempt to kill it, this time with only 51 votes. Which makes it what, the 80th time they’ve tried to repeal it?
Immigration’s Gonna Destroy the United States
Back in July, Americans woke up one morning and realized we had a humanitarian disaster on our Southern border. It was a major “Wah-huh? You mean there’s a country down there?” for most Americans.
For the right-wing, though, it was open season on immigrants and the voices standing up for them. As news of the disaster went on, the right-wing reaction to the humanitarian problem eventually eclipsed the problem itself, manifesting in word salad seasoned with blatant xenophobia and laced with ignorance. Cries for impeachment rose from the rabble-rousers, but like all good news stories, this one died young.
“Madman,” “Hitler,” “Lunatic,” and “Emperor” were just a few of the epithets thrown around, reminding us once again that the right has zero sense of perspective when it comes to these things.
Putin’s on Horse
If this one seems like it came out of left field, don’t worry, it did. Iain M. Banks coined the concept of an “Outside Context Problem.” This little number right here would be an example of “Outside Context Lunacy,” were everything the right-wing does not an example of that.
Skipping backwards to March, a plane was shot down over the Ukraine. If you still remember this, congratulations; it was big news at the time and marked the beginning of Ukraine’s cold civil war.
That wasn’t the weird thing. The weird thing was how fast the right fell in love with Vladimir Putin as a result of the showdown between the U.S. and Russia.
Now, there were a few factors at work here: for starters, Putin empowered the homophobic bigotry of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Second, Putin is a former KGB man and knows how to run an authoritarian states. And since right-wingers are authoritarians, they know a silverback when they see one, so they drop to their knees and lick boots like good little toadies.
According to Fox, Putin was as great leader because he could “make the masses openly weep.”
If the right-wing’s reaction to any of Obama’s policies is any indication, Obama can do the same thing, too.
Like news about the Ukraine, this little bit of weirdness quickly got sidelined for other news stories. Like . . .
A Man Named Cliven
In April, news about a group of terrorists hijacking public land and forcing the hand of the federal government burst onto the scene. It took a few days for the story to get disentangled, but gradually the facts began to filter through: a man named Cliven Bundy owed the Federal government more than $1 million as a result of unpaid grazing fees.
Well, Bundy wasn’t having any of this business. He quickly gathered himself a group of right-wing whackjobs from all over the country, who were just itching to get a second shot (pun intended) at Ruby Ridge. The the right-wing media injected itself, and I’ve summarized this story too many times this year.
Following this story was like following the White Rabbit into Wonderland; the right-wing painted an alternative reality where Bundy, little more than an armed thug who stole from the American people, was somehow a hero because he stole from the American people and stood up to federal law enforcement.
Which, of course, they would conveniently forget later that year . . .
Michael Brown Shows Racism Uncorked
In August, a black teenager was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri. And he was gunned down by a cop.
By November and December, the country was engaged in a very serious discussion of racism, police brutality, and worth of black lives, which is ongoing to this day. Protests had polarized Americans (along non-authoritarian-authoritarian lines). Michael Brown is just one of several black men who were murdered by police this year alone; I can remember several right off the top of my head. There are dozens more who don’t even get mentioned in the post-script of history.
I picked Michael Brown because of the right-wing narrative surrounding him. They did everything possible to make Brown look like a criminal. They accused him of stealing. They claimed that if you attack an officer, you should expect to be killed. They called him an “animal.”
They made all these accusations without realizing that, in the previous months, Cliven Bundy did the exact same thing, with two major exceptions: one, it was federal law enforcement, not local, and two, Bundy was white.
And the less said about the right-wing’s horrifying celebration regarding the grad jury decision, the better.
Time will tell what was started with the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and dozens of other black men this year, but one thing is sure: it’s helped reveal who the racists are and who they aren’t, and pretty definitively put to bed the lie that racism is dead.
Muslims Are Gonna Destroy the United States
Prior to 2014, Isis was an Egyptian Goddess and, occasionally, a girl name.
Cropping up sometime in June or July, news about a particularly brutal group of terrorists started to make headlines. Calling themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Levant, they threw all-in with the ongoing Middle East clusterf*ck that got kicked off with the Syrian Civil War. It wasn’t until they started beheading Western aide workers and journalists, though, that they got name recognition.
And then the right-wing lost their ever-loving minds. They began demanding WAR, with a capital-W, and started selling anti-ISIS kits.
The story of ISIS gets really newsworthy, though, when they started combining it with their other fears: according to Allen West, everything we liberals learned about online “troll tactics” we learned from ISIS. Stack the “Immigration Template” on the ISIS monster and you get the “news” story of 10 ISIS fighters that were caught near the border, or of the “Koran books” good Sheriff Painter found. Toss in some good ol’ fashion Christian Persecution and suddenly the right-wing is supporting ISIS for purging “satanists.”
Toss in the IRS and Obama and you have . . . whatever it is Scott Stapp ranting about in this video.
ISIS combines rather well with right-wing fears, and plays to several of them. Which brings me to the final point . . .
2014 — The Year of FEAR
No other word sums up the right-wing in 2014 more than this one does. The right-wing scored some significant victories this year — the Hobby Lobby case was a disaster and holy cow were the midterms a horrifying train wreck — but at the end of the day, Fear is the word of 2014, and is the sole motivating factor for much of what the right does and did. If you wanted just one word to sum up the United States in 2014, it would be this one.
Fear of Ebola. Fear of Obamacare. Fear of ISIS. Fear of immigration. Fear of gays and lesbians. Fear of the government. Fear, fear, fear. Be afraid, be very afraid.
So here’s to you, 2014 — the year of fear. Maybe next year will be better, but I know that I won’t miss this year.