Well, at least you can enjoy the flicker of panic in Hannity’s eyes

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, February 10, 2011 15:28 EDT
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Via Digby, this video is just so awesome:

I think my favorite is how some conservatives have decided that a “clever” dodge when challenged about their beliefs on Obama’s religion is to say that his religion is “liberalism”. Which is a way of saying, “Look, I think he’s a Muslim, but I’m smart enough to know that I can’t say that in certain company, so I’m going to elide the issue.” Sean Hannity is really perturbed by the base’s unwillingness to stick to what he considers a safer way to use religion as a cover to float racist attacks, which is to drop the words “Reverend Wright” a lot. Any way you slice it, however, the Muslim/radical Christian/religion is “liberalism” thing is basically a way to express the belief that black Americans aren’t Real Americans®, though there’s a cultural equivalent of a green card offered for black conservatives.

But I think the panic in Hannity’s eyes is probably about more than just his concerns that his audience is visibly stupid (and therefore not really so great at launching suitably subtle racist attacks on the President) and that makes Republicans look bad. It’s also that this focus group demonstrates that Glenn Beck has hijacked the entire narrative, and the results are that it works to keep pushing the envelope further and further into conspiracy theory direction. Particularly with this Egypt stuff, Beck has decided the most fruitful way to exploit this is to ratchet up hysteria about Muslims. He basically decided, correctly I think, that conservative viewers don’t give a shit about the nuances of this situation. They want to hear that crazy Muslims are rising up and demanding that the world be turned into a Muslim theocracy and that Obama is in on it, and that the main reason this is alarming is that it’s a threat not to secularism (which vast swaths of conservatives, including Beck, object to), but to Christian dominance. And even Hannity can probably grasp that if there’s no limits on the conspiracy theory nuttiness, then that’s genuinely dangerous. And not just to liberals or Democrats anymore, but even to folks like him who have even just 5% of them that says, “Hey, there should be some kind of limit on this stuff.”

Luckily for him and for the rest of us, the one limit is that most Americans are lazy slobs. (I include myself in this.) The chance that people whipped up into a frenzy of paranoia are going to hit the streets in large numbers is pretty low. They’re mostly just going to stew at home, going down their rabbit hole of nuttiness. The real threat here is that the nuts are taking over the Republican party. Teh traditional business interests who control the party and simply exploit the nuts for votes are going to have an harder time keeping a lid on this shit. Paranoia is like The Blob; it just keeps growing and feeding on everything in sight until it completely takes over.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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