And now for something completely different…

Rather than linking you to any excellent information put up in the past few days, today’s let-me-link-you will be shockingly textual in nature. I’m going to beg you to go to your nearest library and check out Rachel Maddow’s Drift. Or buy it. Or borrow it from a friend. Really, exactly how you do it isn’t important.

I say this not only because I’m reading it, of course, but because it contains passages like:

“In a nationally televised interview in March of 1981, when CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite suggested that Reagan might be laying it on a little thick about the Soviet leaders being ‘liars and thieves,’ the president stuck by his assessment, paraphrasing another hysterical Bircher trope: ‘We’re naïve if we don’t remember their ideology is without God, without our idea of morality in the religious sense – their statement about morality is that nothing is immoral if it furthers their cause, which means that they can resort to lying or stealing or cheating or even murder if it furthers their cause… If we’re going to deal with them, then we have to keep that in mind.'”

If you’re at all familiar with islamophobic arguments about “taqiyya” there’s something uneasy about the same idea of how the US’s enemies operated so quickly reappearing in spite of the threats being unimaginably different from each other. It must be noted, of course, that taqiyya doesn’t work as commonly thought and is essentially confined to Shia theological positions, which Al Qaeda and the associated network of Sunni extremists do not care about in the slightest. But whether based on some woefully misunderstood moral concept or fabricated wholesale, twice in the past few decades the United States has largely become convinced that there exists an enemy against it that is incomprehensibly good at misleading everyone around it. That’s why America is so exceptional – we’re the one scientist who realizes what’s gone wrong in the disaster movie. Unless of course, we’re the less cinematic paranoid nut who can’t put together what’s actually happening…

(Oh god, we’re not that country are we? Originally from here.)

So read Rachel Maddow’s Drift, please! No, not because it will inform you about all sorts of things you had no idea about (although that’s bound to happen as well), but because it will terrify you with how little things have changed, how the scripts of the US’s national narrative has only been modestly updated in nearly thirty years, and how we’re still fighting the same fantasy battles (just with different names substituted, mad-lib style).


2 thoughts on “And now for something completely different…

  1. […] I’ll appreciate a point by Andrew Sullivan but still call it erasive. I’ll quote Rachel Maddow at length, but I don’t think that means refusing to criticize her. So now it’s Dan […]

  2. […] congressional approval for the conflict before acting (at least, so far). This builds on her book, Drift, which in turn is a more publicly palatable version of her earlier academic work. In short, […]

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