>> Friday, November 06, 2009
I was stuck in a traffic jam yesterday afternoon and I happened onto the local right-wing talk radio station. Out of morbid curiosity I ended up spending about half an hour listening to Michael Savage, who advertises himself as the nation's third most-popular radio talk show host.
It's difficult to describe the flavor of the broadcast -- I suppose it's one of those things you have to experience yourself in order to appreciate. It's true that many of Savage's individual claims, such as that the leadership of the "Democrat" party is to Democratic voters as the leadership of Al Qaeda is to Islam, were laughably unhinged. But the really notable aspect of the thing was the air of apparently genuine paranoia that enveloped both Savage himself and his callers.
To listen to Savage is to enter a world in which the enemies of America are everywhere, and most especially at the center of our governmental, educational, and media institutions, which they control almost completely. These "mandarins" as Savage called them, are destroying the country by imposing their "psychotic" ideology on the American people, and implementing a program that is in the process of dismantling capitalism, disarming the populace, and eliminating America as we know it.
Yesterday Savage was obsessing on how nobody was going to be allowed to say that the army base shooter, Nidal Hasan, was an Islamic terrorist. He was particularly enraged with Fox News's Shepard Smith, who had just reported that Hasan's cousin had said that Hasan had been teased as a child for being of Middle Eastern ancestry. To Savage (and a couple of his callers), such a report was a typical exercise in PC rationalization, which requires blaming America for being a racist country that drives people like Hasan to commit terrorist acts.
The upshot of Hasan's attack, Savage predicted, would be more required sensitivity training courses for Army personnel, more pressure for diversity hiring throughout the military in particular and the country in general, and more calls for "understanding" the terrorists' perspective.
Again it's hard to capture the flavor of this stuff, but it was the political equivalent of hardcore pornography -- a kind of shameless wallowing in hatred, fear, and resentment. It was disgusting, and if you haven't listened to anything like this lately (I hadn't) I recommend doing so. Savage has by his own account a couple of million daily listeners -- this isn't some guy in a basement in Idaho with a web site that gets 12 visitors a week.
An interesting sidelight of the experience was listening to the ads run during the broadcast. A significant portion were for bankruptcy and other debt relief services. (There were also a couple for tattoo removal). The current outburst of right-wing populist rage is being channeled away from the Lords of Capital and towards all the usual suspects -- the minorities and the illegals and the feminazis who took your job and don't want to fight The Terrorists even assuming they don't actually sympathize with them which of course they do because they think America is a racist nation. (Savage had a long riff about how our cities are now full of firefighters who can't lift a hose, and San Francisco has a girl police chief who has destroyed the department's morale etc etc.)
Anyway if you want to dip a toe in this cesspool you can listen to Dr. Savage here.