For a while I thought it was just me. But in the final days leading up to the national election, I began to notice it on both local and national talk shows around the country.
And now that we are a few days past Mr. Obama’s election night victory, it seems quite clear: things have gotten more intense, not less.
I’m writing here about the attacks that are being telephoned-in to conservative talk radio hosts around the country. I’ve noticed a consistent increase of people that I’ll call “Obama enthusiasts” popping-up as callers on conservative talk shows, and no matter what the topic on the show may be, the assertions from the callers follow a predictable pattern.
The precise choice of words that the caller uses in their line of attack may vary, but the pattern essentially goes like this: A) The caller asserts to the host that “all you ever do is attack Barack Obama;” B) The caller then comes around to asserting to the host that “you are obviously a “racist” (or “you are a bigot,” or “you think Black people are inferior to White people,” or something of that sort); and then the caller concludes with C) “you should be removed from the ‘public airwaves’” (or some variation of the general sentiment that “you should just be silenced” or “you should shut-up”).
Now let me be clear: I’m not complaining about this, not at all. In fact, I welcome it on my talk show at 630 WMAL radio in Washington, D.C. It’s no secret that talk radio thrives in controversy, and conversely, a talk show can become boring if everyone is “in agreement” with the host.
But entertaining talk show content is one thing. And the broader implications of people’s words outside of a talk show can be something different (I’m reminded here of the many times over the years that I’ve heard Rush say “words mean things”). And the implications, the “meaning,” of the pattern that I’ve identified above, seems to be this: If you so much as question the President-elect, you are necessarily a “racist,” and your voice should, therefore, be removed from the public square.
I must also add that, while the hostility I’m hearing on conservative talk radio is mostly directed at white, male hosts, it’s not necessarily a “black against white” phenomena. For example, on my show last Friday while I was discussing Mr. Obama’s remarks about the economy at his recent press conference, I received a call from “Roberto,” a man with a Hispanic sounding accent in Arlington, VA. Roberto’s opening salvo was to say that I was being “patronizing” by pronouncing his name with the traditional, Spanish “rolling R” sound.
Now, I grew up in Southern California surrounded by Spanish speakers, and I was taught by my “white Mom” that, as a matter of respect, I should speak Spanish as it was intended to be spoken, and NOT like a “gringo.”
But never mind that “respect” thing. As far as Roberto was concerned, I was simply offensive. And then, of course, the pattern kicked-in - - I was questioning the President-elect’s remarks because I’m a racist, and therefore I should be silenced.
I’ve heard this rhetoric enough times, and on so many different talk shows in addition to my own, that I believe there is some organizational effort behind it. I’m not insinuating that the finger prints of our President-elect are on this, and the participants in this might be quite loosely organized, at best.
But there is a certain mindset, a certain philosophy that underlies this rhetoric, and it is becoming more widespread. It is the belief if you are not in lock-step with the President-elect’s agenda, or if you merely dare to question it, you are obviously motivated by your hatred of ethnic minorities, and you have no place in the broad national debate. And it is an anathema to our freedoms under the First Amendment.
Conservative Americans in particular need to understand that in this new era, the rules have changed. And to understand this change, conservatives need to begin by reading “Rules For Radicals,” a book published in 1971 by noted “community organizer” (and a man who is said to have influenced Mr. Obama) Saul Alinsky.
Column space is limited here, so you’ll have to get a copy of the book for yourself. But consider this notion from Alinksy’s rule #5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.”
And consider this language from rule #11, wherein Alinsky suggests that the main job of a “community organizer” is to bait his opponent into reacting in a certain way: “The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength.”
Welcome to the new era.