Since I wrote my original post on her ridiculous conclusion that the government is waging civil war on us and then another over on Crooks and Liars, the world has evidently gone mad. Take a look at the comments on Joshua Holland’s Alternet post debunking Naomi Wolf’s hackery for evidence of that.
Look, folks. Feeling like something must be true is not the same as truth. Feeling like DHS must be orchestrating a nationwide crackdown is not the same as DHS orchestrating a nationwide crackdown. Feeling is what Fox News relies on to disseminate disinformation and create a fantasy-based electorate.
Here’s what has come to light since I wrote the original post:
- Mr. Ellis has responded to my Crooks and Liars post by essentially confirming that the “grand conspiracy” he alluded to in his first post does not exist at this time, or at least, he cannot confirm it. The only confirmation he could get was that the DHS was present in Portland. This should not come as a surprise, given that the OccupyPortland group was adjacent to federal property.
- Milt Shook has an excellent post taking Ellis to task for hack rumor “journalism”. Ellis has responded to him in an update to his post responding to me, basically bickering over Ellis’ prior employment details rather than the facts Wolf claimed she gleaned from his story.
- In fact, Mr. Ellis debunked his own conspiracy theory nine days before Naomi Wolf published her screed on The Guardian.
- The DOJ has an open, active ongoing investigation of police brutality. There is no reason to expect the police actions at UC Davis and other protests would be excluded from that, but we still hear about how the administration is turning a blind eye to the brutality. As if brutality didn’t exist before the Occupy movement or something. Yeah, well. We know better.
- Finally, Ms. Wolf has not deigned to justify or otherwise defend her indefensible piece. Her silence speaks as powerful a message as her nonsense writing.
Yet. There are arguments all over the Internet being posed in comments. Arguments that consultation with PERF is somehow evidence of a larger conspiracy even though PERF exists to minimize friction between police and citizens. Arguments that it just feels believable.
Progressives, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot argue that government is capable of good when it fits your agenda and assume without evidence that government is doing bad things. Every time you go down this rabbit hole you affirm the tenets of the right wing. Every single time. Strict civil libertarians will argue all day long that civil liberties are being breached and perhaps they are. But that does not mean the ones breaching are at the top of the federal government, no matter how good it might feel to think so.
Naomi Wolf tried to do grave harm to the Occupy movement, and yet they defend her! How did she do harm? Here’s how. When she spewed out her unsupported and unsubstantiated theory that the federal government with full blessing of the President and Congress is waging a bloody civil war on its citizens, she alienated ordinary people, because it doesn’t pass the smell test for those people. People who get their Social Security checks every month and find that their Medicare cards still work at the doctor and who receive unemployment checks and food stamps are not necessarily inclined to believe the issuers of those benefits have declared war on them.
Naomi Wolf did harm to the progressive movement with that screed, because she aligned with the extreme right wing in the name of the Occupy movement. It isn’t the first time she pretends to be progressive while echoing right wing tropes. She called the President Hitler’s equal.She demanded rape victims expose their identities in order to level an accusation of rape, all for the sake of defending Julian Assange. This, from a woman who has the gall and temerity to call herself a feminist.
Both of those ideas are enormously popular on the right. Move far enough left, and I suppose that’s where you land. But in the process, she and others who insist on this kind of rhetoric alienate people who are not extreme ideologues on either side and do harm to the movements they claim to support.
AngryBlackLady has rounded up all of the pieces to this story and put them in once place, while tying a great big red ribbon around it called “truthless”. I highly recommend you read it in its entirety, but I will quote her here because she sums up the insanity of this whole episode well:
This is what Fox News does. This is what the right-wing does. This is not what liberals are supposed to do. We live in a reality-based world. In a world where Hawaii is a state, Africa is a continent, President Obama is not a secret Muslim, and anchor babies aren’t real.
We don’t live in a Teabilly Fox-infected world that thrives on fear of the unknown boogeyman hiding in the closet. We don’t live in a world where “journalists” spew bullshit designed to manipulate and play upon the fears of their readers. We don’t live in a world where “Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Naomi Wolf’s made-up claims are true” constitutes critical thinking.
And if I’m wrong — if we do live in a world fraught with feverished paranoia? If this is what progressivism and liberalism has become, then we’re fucked. If we cannot rely on progressive and liberal journalists and bloggers to tell the truth and do their jobs, then we’re no better than the wingnuts. Should we take credible sources and concerns about potential federal involvement and investigate them? Absolutely. Should we draw conclusions from unsourced claims and tout them as The Truth. Absolutely not.
We can’t call out Fox News for this kind of crap while engaging in it ourselves.
This is just not who we are.
Finally, I’m going to address the accusation that because I support President Obama, I can’t possibly be right about Wolf. This is some of the weirdest logic leaping I’ve ever seen. Again, I reiterate. Facts are facts. When you write a piece alleging an undeclared civil war by the President and Congress with no truth or facts under it, I have the right to call bullshit. Whether I support the President or not has nothing to do with it. Lies are lies; hysteria is hysteria; paranoia is paranoia, and it’s absurd to suggest that they should go unchallenged because I support the President. If there were a shred of truth to Wolf’s assertions, that would be the argument to make. Trying to marginalize mine because of who I support politically is nothing more than an effort to spin away the truth of this matter: Wolf has invented a civil war that isn’t there.
For those who insist on making this a partisan issue despite the fact that it’s really a truth issue, consider this: Who benefits from paranoia and hysterical factless accusations? I assure you it is not progressives. Or liberals. Think on that before feeling like they must be right.
Bonus link: PoliticusUSA
- How Bullshit Magically Turns Into Fact
- Wind couldn’t chase the moon away