The (Belated) Education of John Avlon
John Avlon, CNN contributor and Villager extraordinaire, has made a veritable career out of pushing false equivalencies; he literally wrote the book on the subject, in which he touted, among other things, the risible notion that Alan Grayson was exactly the same as Glenn Beck. Entitled “Wingnuts,” the thesis of this discount-bin tome was that left and right are equally responsible for the dreaded “partisanship” that goes down so disagreeably with cocktail weinies in the perfumed salons of Washington. Never mind that Grayson’s inflammatory statements had the notable advantage of being true, while Becks’ were invariably pulled directly from his ass, it was their tone that sent Avlon to the fainting couch.
For months after its publication, Avlon’s relentless book-whoring forced him to shoehorn every current event into a further example of his hackneyed and counterfactual little idea; no Republican pronouncement was too outrageous or horrifying to not have an offhand comment from a Democrat that, to Avlon’s addled mind, matched it perfectly. Leaving aside the rank idiocy of so many people like Avlon whose lives are dedicated to politics finding actual politics so distasteful, real-world events continued to make him a laughingstock, whether he realized it or not.
Well, the scales seem to have fallen from Avlon’s eyes, finally, and he took to CNN’s website to announce that someone had pumped some oxygen to his brain. More in sorrow than anger, the teenaged “Senior Political Columnist” set to typing:
When asked by a constituent at a town hall, “What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists?”
“That’s a fair question,” West replied. “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party.”
Pass the smelling salts, Miss Mellie, someone’s corset’s laced too tight. Even though Avlon carefully added “ic” to the end of West’s McCarthyite “Democrat,” he surely did so just to be agreeable, if a bit deceptive. When he eventually came to, he went on:
And not only did West not apologize — or receive significant criticism from his fellow Republicans — his revealing response was to raise funds off it.
Oh, the humanity! Imagine, Republicans trolling for the filthy lucre from their own absurd allegations. Fortunately, Avlon was able to dredge up just a teensy false equivalency, perhaps out of sheer force of habit:
To equate liberals in Congress with communists is like equating conservatives in Congress with fascists — something only the most brain-dead Occupy protester would attempt.
As one of those brain-dead Occupiers myself, I would point out for Avlon’s much-needed edification that quite a few conservatives in Congress are fascists; Allen West is merely one of the more egregious ones. The 1956 Thorndike American College Dictionary upon which I rely for, well, looking up words Villagers have trouble understanding, defines fascism thusly: A governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism…. emphasizing aggressive nationalism, militarism, and (often) racism. Sounds a lot like the Republican party to me, but I guess I’m just one of Avlon’s “wingnuts.”
Warming to his subject, apparently having given up on anyone buying his crappy book at this late date, Avlon goes so far as to admit that both sides don’t, if fact do what he’s been saying they both do, ad nauseam:
But the asymmetric polarization of our politics has made such accusations within the easy reach of politically successful ideologues at unguarded moments.
West’s comments were simply extensions of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s infamous statement in 2008 about how then-candidate Barack Obama — and many Democratic members of Congress — held “anti-American views.”
They really believe this stuff: Anyone who is not avowedly conservative is considered liberal — and therefore anyone who is avowedly liberal is considered communist. This is not a little insane.
I’m thinking that when a Republican audience heartily cheered for someone without health insurance being allowed to die, Avlon realized Alan Grayson had a point. Better late than never, I guess. Most deliciously, Avlon then aims his fire at, well, himself, when he writes:
And when a member of your “team” says something extreme, it is either ignored or excused by invoking extreme statements from the other side of the ideological gulf — therefore the conservative response to Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut was to try and make the debate about Bill Maher’s past statements about Sarah Palin.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall….. But kidding aside, Avlon deserves some small measure of credit for reluctantly setting aside his bone-headed centrism, noticing that one party is nuts, and saying so publicly. Sadly, he then spoils it by lapsing into that most annoying Village excuse for being loudly and repeatedly wrong about everything, “everyone does it.”
But the ratcheting up of rhetoric has been occurring for so long that we almost don’t notice it anymore. This feeds the cycle of incitement that is polarizing our politics. It will only stop when members of the two parties start condemning extreme comments made by members of their own team. And if elected officials start to equate liberals with communists, it is time to break the glass in case of emergency, because we are losing any sense of perspective in American politics.
We? No John, just you. But welcome, at last, to the reality-based community; you might like it here.