On the right today, there are many talented minds working to roll back government, fight for liberty, enact conservative policies, and preserve the cultural legacy of Western civilization for our children’s children.
Most of their audience are regular people, like you and me, who derive satisfaction from reading fine well-argued ideas There are the partisans too, the hacks, and the flacks. Perhaps some of us are interested in finding common ground. Perhaps some of us enjoy the thrill of watching our boldest treat liberal narratives the way a Bolton treats a Stark at a wedding.
Then there are the kooks and the mental patients who listen to them.
World Net Daily. Alex Jones. Michael Savage. Donald Trump. Ron Paul (but not his son!). These are a few of the people who have managed to attract an audience by spewing gross, indelicate, semi-articulate, and somewhat mad theories onto the airwaves and the Internet. Not only have they managed to entice people to listen to them by appealing to the seductive gnosis of conspiracy, they show no compunction about fleecing them of their money in exchange for “prepper” equipment, gold coins, secret knowledge, and tedious bumper stickers.
At the very least, they are coarse peddlers of half-baked outrage.
They are not serious representatives of the Right and if gathering an audience of dupes was as far as that, I’d be inclined to let fools and their money be parted. But that’s not where it stops. Unfortunately, these knobs have an incredible talent for swooping in at the most unhelpful of times and landing in front of the cameras. An all-too eager (or lazy, take your pick) media laps up the rambling about chem trails spelling out the coordinates of the Kenyan Bilderberg-staffed hospital where Obama was delivered by Illuminati high-priests in league with Satan… none of which “they” want you to know about.
These people damage our ability to talk to the average voter. When the Obama administration’s actual failures and scandals are so apparent, the attention-seeking conspiracists actually provide him and his merry band a measure of political cover. “We can’t be that bad — look who’s criticizing us!”
We live in a time when the musings of teen pop stars can be read by millions as quickly as the brat can type them into his smartphone. Similarly, political misinformation can spread across the country in moments infecting otherwise persuadable voters and inevitably wasting our time as we distance ourselves from the real wacko-birds.
When someone like Pete Santilli (I know, I know: “who?”) says that Hillary Clinton should be executed by being shot and left to die a slow death, it isn’t just the RealDoll in his basement who hears it. The left picks it up. This guy doesn’t even have an actual show, but what he said was reported and distributed. It is used to associate sane conservatives with the un-medicated slobs thriving on negative attention. It allows the left to remark, “Alex Jones? Joe Scarborough? What’s the difference?”
Anyone who reads critically would immediately see through this ploy. They’d recognize Santilli for an irrelevant troglodyte. How many people bother to give the context when they share something this sensational, though? Practically none — which is the entire point. The word is spread, and the entire right side of the spectrum is tainted in the mind of the casual consumer of political news.
It’s past time for the conservative movement to cast these miscreants back into the swamps from whence they slithered.
Repeated disavowal is not sufficient; they thrive on negative attention. Refutation of their “points” is a fool’s errand. Nothing can dissuade them that there is some devilry afoot, of which the aforementioned sinister “they” would prefer you remain incognizant. We must strip from them any hope of relevance.
They must be made not to matter.
This is much more difficult than it used to be. The days when a William F. Buckley could close the gates on conservative crazies are long past. The Internet knocked down the gates and sold them for scrap. Anyone can sidle up to a keyboard and put their ideas out there for public consumption. There simply isn’t a barrier to entry anymore.
Things may not be entirely hopeless. With the constant churn of people sharing ideas, pictures of cats, and this very blog post (yes?), it’s entirely possible that the nonsensical ramblings of the lunatic fringe are routinely drowned out. I suspect that there is no way to directly eject the conspiracy kooks. But if major organizations elect to blacklist contributors to wackadoo publications and individuals carefully manage their exposure to them to include only mockery, in time the morons will be consigned back to the margins where they will do the least damage.
Adjust your tin-foil hats and let us know your ideas for quarantining the crazy-pants brigade.