What Americans Know II

My earlier post was obliterated by Blogger after being up for a few days. The post started with the news that most Americans STILL think Iraq was behind 9/11. Among other things I said it’s crucial for us to listen to Limbaugh in order to understand what Republicans are thinking and what so many Americans think is reality. Today a Washington Post story covers this territory.

Some people get their information from the TV networks or the paper. Stein starts with the Drudge Report Web site, where he scans the headlines and clicks on one that says, “Rallying Cry For Dems: Vote Bush Out of Rove’s Office.” “This is the kind of stuff that pisses me off,” he says. “They don’t give Bush the respect he deserves. Not only because he’s president, but because he’s a helluva good man.”

Next he goes to a Web site called WorldNetDaily.com. He clicks on an article that says, “Poll: Bush’s Approval Sinking,” but dismisses it as untrustworthy when he sees the poll was done by CBS. “Of course I have a suspicion of CBS,” he says. “Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw — they don’t have any credibility with me.”

Next he goes through a site called FreeRepublic.com, which calls itself “the premier conservative news forum,” and then moves on to a site called sftt.org. “Soldiers for the Truth,” he says, scrolling through another list of articles and watching a video of what the site says is a U.S. Apache helicopter targeting and obliterating three Iraqis. “Another guy moving right there,” one voice on the video says, all business. “Good. Fire. Hit him,” another voice says.

“It’s amazing, the military, the men and women who are serving us,” Stein says. “You think about the sacrifices, the idea of spending Christmas in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in West Africa, in these hellholes. In the civilian world, they get some injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, and they want to go sue their employers, and these guys . . . I’m so proud of them. I’m so glad they’re on our side.”

Next he goes to Military.com, where there’s a photograph of an American soldier holding a wild-haired Saddam Hussein on the ground moments after his capture. “Look at the contrast,” Stein says. “There’s the American soldier coming to liberate the country, and there’s the tyrant who ran the rape rooms and the children’s prisons. That inspires me.”

Next he goes to AmericanRhetoric.com, where he has listened to an “awesome” speech by Bush, an “amazing” speech by Reagan, and a “great” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. from a time before “things got so distorted,” and then he goes to townhall.com, which calls itself a “conservative news and information” site, where he begins hopscotching from Pat Buchanan to Robert D. Novak to Ann Coulter.

This is how Stein gets his information, along with watching Fox News and skimming the local paper, to which he once canceled his subscription because he was so offended by an opinion column about Bush that began, “The Boy Emperor picked up the morning paper and, stunned, dropped his Juicy Juice box with the little straw attached.” He recognizes that the information he seeks out reinforces his beliefs rather than challenges them, but “I feel I’m more informed than most people,” he says. “Most people don’t read all of this.”

There’s so much more in this article. Read it. Start listening to Limbaugh. Start in small, 5-minute doses. Don’t break your radio. Work up to a full half hour. It is CRUCIAL to understand what Americans are being told. You will not BELIEVE what they’re telling people! But this is the core of Republican thought. What you hear here is repeated in various forms and dilutions on the mainstream news. It sets the agenda. People BELIEVE that cutting taxes or the rich increases government revenue! People BELIEVE that Christians are persecuted in America. People BELIEVE that “the government” is some separate entity that takes money from regular working people and just keeps it for “themselves.” They are told that Republicans are “people like us” and Democrats drive “limousines” and “drink wine and eat French cheeses” and that they hate Christians. Over and over they are told these things.

And they are told, over and over again, not to listen to mainstream media, not to trust anything “Liberals” say, not to trust their facts, not to believe anything they hear except from the far right. And it works.

Republicans understand how people get their information, and they take advantage of it. They spread little (untrue) stories about ridiculous lawsuits on music radio stations, they send out (untrue) chain e-mail stories about Kerry insulting people, they call talk shows with (untrue) stories about Kerry pushing his way to the front of lines in drug stores saying, “Do you know who I am?” They plant (untrue) stories about people (meaning Jews) persecuting Christians. Fox News reports Iraq stories under the banner “War on Terrorism” as if Iraq had anything to do with Terrorism…