7 Things To Do When Right-Wingers Attack

Politics is a dirty business. Its history contains some of the most unsavory and slanderous conduct imaginable. In recent years there seems to have been an escalation by conservative activists who were never able to accept the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States.

[This is a re-post of an article I wrote for Alternet]

From Inauguration Day, when Fox News immediately began speculating that Obama was illegitimate because Supreme Court Justice John Roberts flubbed the oath of office, to the present where we see the president still shirking off allegations of treasonous sympathies for Muslim terrorists, America’s right-wingers have orchestrated an aggressive assault on those they consider to be their enemies. Well, we don’t have to lie down and take it. Here are some of the ways we can fight back:

1. Trust, No. Verify, Yes: The easiest way to smack down a conservative is to do some cursory research. In all likelihood whatever they are using against you is filled with errors or is entirely made up. It shouldn’t be too difficult to expose their attacks as vacant smear tactics. Mike Huckabee’s recent assertion that President Obama holds views that are different than the average American due to his “upbringing in Kenya” is a perfect example of right-wing disinformation. It was quickly debunked, which led Huckabee to offer even more ludicrous falsehoods to cover his original deceit. We are fortunate to be blessed with opponents who are, more often than not, idiots. Let’s exploit that good fortune.

Sean Hannity

2. Mock Treatment: When you’re dealing with the sort of people who vote for former witches for the senate there is sometimes little you can do other than laugh. And while the antics of right-wingers are often indistinguishable from satire, it is still an effective response to their attacks. The latest inanity from Sarah Palin can be addressed at length in a point-by-point rebuttal or a brief skit by Tiny Fey. Which do you think has a more enduring impact?

3. Talk Back: The purpose of most attacks from the right is to influence public opinion, and eventually, social behavior and legislation. They must not be left alone on that field of battle. A concerted effort should be made to inform the media that the attacks are baseless. That means letters to the editor, op-eds, call-ins to radio shows, and speaking out at public forums. The PR response is critical. The latest, loudest assertion is often the one most remembered. Don’t let it be a Tea Partier.

4. Consider the Source: Attacks from the right often emanate from notoriously disreputable characters whose grousing is better ignored. Their hypocrisy is legendary. Why should we care when the corpulent Rush Limbaugh calls Michael Moore fat? And the next time Ann Coulter proposes that the way to deal with violent extremism (or in her view, with anyone of the Muslim faith) is to “invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity,” we ought not to pay attention to the violent extremism she espouses. This isn’t giving up. It’s tactical disregard, but it should only be employed against irrelevant figures whose opinions are widely ignored anyway. I know, that’s a pretty big chunk of the rightosphere.

5. Hit the Streets: Nothing has been more illustrative of the power ordinary people have to effect change than the determined and courageous example set by the people of Wisconsin. They have been relentless in asserting their rights to speak, assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. Sadly, their governor and his GOP minions have resisted the will of the people — so far. But this battle is far from over. And the example set by Wisconsin Democrats, unions and citizens, has inspired a national movement in support of working families and the notion that tough economic times require sacrifices from everyone, including wealthy individuals and corporations. This movement has flourished despite scant attention from the conventional media. That’s the power of numbers and a public presence.

6. Sue the Bastards: This action can only be undertaken by actual victims of right-wing attacks, but it is effective and underutilized. Recently lawsuits have been been filed by Shirley Sherrod (against Andrew Breitbart) and Juan Carlos Vera (against James O’Keefe). These suits can serve as notice that people will not tolerate being slandered or otherwise harmed by spurious attacks. They can also preoccupy conservative evildoers who will have to spend both time and money on their defense. The publicity from these suits can help to advance progressive activism, particularly if they are successful. But just keeping their dastardly exploits in the news has a beneficial effect all its own. It would be great to see more of this from aggrieved parties like Van Jones and George Soros.

7. Get Up, Stand Up! Last, but not least, it is imperative that we coalesce into a culture of pride and conviction for the ideals we cherish. We must cease to buckle under pressure from rightist factions who will oppose us even after we make every concession they demand. Has the criticism of the White House declined since the departure of Van Jones? Did the opposition relent after we removed language from the health care bill that was falsely lambasted as “death panels?” Has there been any let-up on charges of over-taxation and socialism from Tea Partiers despite the extension of Bush-era tax relief for the rich? Of course not. So why on earth would we continue to try to appease an opponent who is insatiable and resistant to compromise?

Our side has to stop firing people just because they were subjects of criticism from the right. That just empowers the other side and highlights our weaknesses. It’s long past time for us to stand up for ourselves and our own. And when we get hit, as we will, we need to hit back. We have a moral obligation to stand up for the principles that we share with the majority of the American people. And now we must augment that with the will to advance those principles even in the face of dishonest, dirty dealing by our opponents.

One more thing: Have fun! There is no reason we can’t pursue our goals with a positive demeanor that reflects our hopes and aspirations for a country that cares about its people and the people of the world.


12 thoughts on “7 Things To Do When Right-Wingers Attack

  1. I recently engaged in a debate with right wingers who lamented “stupid regulations” forcing American businesses overseas (before changing it to “high corporate taxes” which I debunked with generally accepted accounting principles and a list of giant corporations who don’t pay income tax on the profits they DO report). I asked if we should eliminate the “stupid regulations” that would allow American companies to pay American workers $7/day in wages and dump toxic waste into our rivers and streams.

    I’m still awaiting a response. If there is one, it won’t address my statistics and facts; rather they’ll change the subject or use talking point generalities.

    • You’re right, they won’t reply. So keep putting to them.

  2. Bill Clinton’s policy was that any attack on him or his administration had to be answered that day. Worked pretty well for him.

    • I believe it was Clinton’s campaign that coined (or at least popularized) the “rapid response” team.

  3. “…speculating that Obama was illegitimate because Roberts flubbed the oath of office…”

    Lie on several counts. There was no serious contemplation by anybody from FNC about this point. Furthermore, if you bothered to pay attention to that oath. you would have noticed that BOTH Obama and Roberts flubbed the swearing-in. So they went back later and re-did the oath tocover the bases. End of story.

    “Mock treatment…”

    Insults from left-wingers merely reinforce the fact that they can’t win debates.

    “Sue the bastards…”

    Those lawsuits will fail.

    • Sherrod’s lawsuit will fail? She suffered actual financial damage at the hands of Breitbart. Now, if he settles out of court, will you call that a “fail”?

      And Drudge may not be FNC, but he did report no Bible was used at the swear-in, which was a lie.

      • Rather than discuss factual matters, Scott prefers to try his hand at predicting the future. And he also seems to think that right-wingers never insult or mock anyone. They do, they’re just really bad at it.

    • Do your ever bother to research the crap you spew?
      Fox coverage of oath.

      And it was Roberts who screwed up (he even admitted it). Obama tried to cover for him.

      • Scott forgets that right wingers who mock is a giant industry unto itself on Clear Channel radio stations across the nation. Has he ever listened to one minute of Limbaugh, Savage or Levin? That’s 27 hours a week right there of continual mocking.

        And no, I’m betting Scott never checks his facts because he can just watch FNC to back up his preconceived notions. To be the modern conservative is to never challenge any of your beliefs.

  4. Enjoyed your 7 tips, Mark. In keeping with the importance of satire, thought I’d share this nugget. I was arguing with this anti-union guy recently on FB and when the subject of a possible union strike came up, he wrote (completely seriously): “I don’t mind if unions want to strike as long as they do it during their free time.” That tickled me.

    • Oy. I’m not sure if that’s hilarious or depressing. A little of both I guess.

  5. “…(Sherrod) sufferd actuall financial damage at the hands of Breitbart…”

    Wrong again. She sufferd financial damage because somebody from the Dept. of Agriculture fired her (or forced her to quit). If she sued the Ag. Department (again), she would probably have a case. Look, if my boss fired me because he believed some lie about me posted on the internet, then I would sue my employer. Very simple.

    “And it was Roberts who screwed up…”

    I actually watched the ceremony, Mark. They both flubbed it.

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