There is a new meme coming from the right, a dangerous meme. It’s dangerous to those who spout it but also very dangerous to the very idea of democracy.
The meme is treason.
Ann Coulter started it. The Eva Braun of the wacked-out right (I wonder if she has any Clue what her fans would really like to do to her, when they imagine her from between their sweat-stained sheets?) published a slander called “Treason” (after a treasonable book called “Slander”) and made a fortune from it.
Although she was thoroughly discredited (sometimes to her face) she opened a door many other, less-talented and less-shapely demagogues have since rushed through.
Exhibit A. I saw this one today. I wrote the “author,” a child (apparently) named Ryan Thompson, who took great umbrage. This was part of his response. “Whats so bad about using the word treason? If I think someone is committing treason, I have the right to say it.”
Yes, Ryan, you have the right to say any foolishness you like. But you also have a responsibility to face the consequences of your speech. You don’t get one without the other.
The word treason comes from a Latin root, to betray, through the Old French traison. Merriam-Webster’s definition is “the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance.”
Treason is a crime punishable by death. If you are a traitor the government should hunt you down and execute you. It is a final verdict from which nothing (even the truth) can absolve you. Not only that but the traitor’s name should become a curse, as is the word quisling, so your children and childrens’ childrens’ children are dishonored to their graves.
Treason is not a word to be casually bandied-about in polite conversation unless, of course, you mean it. And if Howard Dean is a traitor, if in fact all Democrats are traitors, what then is the test of loyalty?
It is, of course, absolute obedience, which is everything America was created to fight against. It is what Hitler demanded, what Stalin demanded, it is the force that created Pol Pot. It is, in the end, what Timothy McVeigh was demanding when he bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
Now that was treason.
There are a host of these Coulter wannabes out there, writing (usually badly) at sites with names like AmericanDaily, Newsmax, Chronwatch, Cybercast, and WorldNetDaily. Not everything at these sites is hatred and venom, but enough of it is. I don’t know who reads this stuff. It is, at heart, political pornography.
But it is also propaganda, the kind that poisons young minds far more thoroughly than an overdose of beaver shots ever could. (I wonder what these writers would think of Ann Coulter pictured….never mind.) Enough of this and a young, impressionable boy who loves his parents can turn into a monster.
Let’s be fair. Let me give you the entire message I got from Ryan Thompson. “Don't give me that tax crap, my father makes 65,000 a year and I understand what taxes are. We need to cut spending so the tax rates are lower. Whats so bad about using the word treason? If I think someone is committing treason, I have the right to say it. WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF MIDDLE CLASS IF YOU DO NOT THINK I AM MIDDLE CLASS?”
Want to know where the real terrorists come from, the Timothy McVeighs and the Eric Rudolphs? That’s where. We’re so worried about Osama Bin Laden raising terrorists against us and yet we mass produce terrorism on our own soil.
Rights come with responsibilities. With your right to speak freely comes responsibility for the consequences.
It is past time America’s far right learned that lesson. There in its rhetoric is the real treason we have to fear. Call them on it. Keep calling them on it. Shame them back into their holes. That is how you can best contribute to the real War On Terrorism.
Posted by Danablankenhorn at July 19, 2003 9:23 PM