I think we as a people consistently underestimate how gullible the rest of us are. There has been a lot of press lately about all the violence and threats of violence aimed at Democrats for supporting healthcare reform. So far, no one has been hurt, but it’s only a matter of time.
People like Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and others have been using words like “tyranny”, “revolution”, and “reloading”. Tea Partiers talk about fascism, Hitler’s policies, and the beginning of Armageddon. And maybe they all truly believe this is hyperbole that their followers understand, but the survey says otherwise.
Harris Interactive surveyed adults nationwide to ask about what “facts” they believe about President Obama. Full results are here, but some interesting highlights include:
- He wants to take away Americans’ right to own guns (38% overall, 61% Republicans)
- He is a Muslim (32% overall, 57% of Republicans)
- He was not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president (25% overall, 45% of Republicans)
- He has done many things that are unconstitutional (29% overall, 55% of Republicans)
- He wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one world government (29% overall, 51% of Republicans)
You get the idea. These are demonstrably false statements, yet in all cases over a quarter of Americans and about half of all Republicans believe them. Taken as truth, these statements do in fact constitute tyranny, and might well justify and armed revolution to prevent the USA from being taken over by dangerous or foreign forces. So is it really any wonder there are people out there prepared to take action against this manufactured threat?
In the end, words do matter. If you sell your ideology on false pretenses, you can’t then distance yourself from the resultant actions of your minions. This is not justifiable politics. This is dangerous. And if and when someone gets hurt or killed as a result, I only hope we’re smart enough to blame the proper wingnuts, which likely aren’t the ones who will have acted, but those who incited them. But I probably overestimate us in that regard.