Matt Taibbi, a writer at The Rolling Stone, writes at his Substack page: “We laughed at the Republican busybody who couldn’t joke, declared war on dirty paintings, and peered through your bedroom window. Now that person has switched sides, and nobody’s laughing.” Here is a taste of his piece, “The Left is Now the Right“:
The saving grace of the right used to be that it was too stupid to rule. Politically defeated liberals secretly believed that in a moment of crisis, the country would have to be turned over to people who didn’t think hurricanes were punishment for gay sex and weren’t frightened to enter a room with a topless statue. In an effort to console such readers, reporters like me were sent to mock every Dover-style cultural stooge-fest and assigned strings of features about dunces like Michelle Bachmann, who believed energy-saving light bulbs were a “very real threat to children, disabled people, pets, senior citizens.”
The right still has more than its share of wing-nuts, the president being the most famous, and we’re allowed to laugh about them (in fact, it’s practically mandatory). Unfortunately, a growing quantity of opposite-number lunacies – from a chess site temporarily shut down by YouTube because of its “white against black” rhetoric, to an art gallery director forced to resign for saying he would still “collect white artists” – is mostly off-limits. If we can’t laugh at time is a white supremacist construct, what can we laugh at?
Republicans were once despised because they were anti-intellectuals and hopeless neurotics. Trained to disbelieve in peaceful coexistence with the liberal enemy, the average Rush Limbaugh fan couldn’t make it through a dinner without interrogating you about your political inclinations.
If you tried to laugh it off, that didn’t work; if you tried to engage, what came back was a list of talking points. When all else failed and you offered what you thought would be an olive branch of blunt truth, i.e. “Honestly, I just don’t give that much of a shit,” that was the worst insult of all, because they thought you were being condescending. (You were, but that’s beside the point). The defining quality of this personality was the inability to let things go. Families broke apart over these situations. It was a serious and tragic thing.
Now that same inconsolable paranoiac comes at you with left politics, and isn’t content with ruining the odd holiday dinner, blind date, or shared cab. He or she does this infuriating interrogating at the office, in school, and in government agencies, in places where you can’t fake a headache and quietly leave the table.
This is all taking place at a time when the only organized opposition to such thinking also supports federal troops rounding up protesters for open-ended detention, going maskless to own the libs, and other equivalent madnesses. If you’re not a Trump fan and can’t reason with the other thing either, what’s left?
Read the entire piece here.
For those of us in the heat of the battle against Trumpism, the kind of stuff Taibbi talks about in this piece (including a controversy in the Classics department at Princeton), doesn’t help. It actually makes some court evangelicals and Fox News sound sensible. When Trump won in 2016 I blamed the Christian Right. If Trump wins in 2020, the Left will need to take some of the blame. Stay tuned.