From Pine View Farm

National Service 0

Dick Polman considers the wingnut response to the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Follow the link and check out the comments. Many of them are from Mars.

Not even this law gets a pass from the paranoid right.

The late Richard Hofstadter, one of our great political thinkers, wrote 45 years ago that our political discourse is often marred by what he called “the paranoid style,” typically employed by “dispossessed” people who feel marginalized by events, and who therefore traffic in “heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasies.” Case in point, the reaction to this national service initiative.

For weeks this spring, there was hysteria about Obama’s purported plans to “enslave” young people with compulsory national service. In some right-wing quarters, the measure was nicknamed the “National Enslavement Bill.” But, as Hofstadter might have put it, this was merely one of the fantasies, concocted and nurtured from long-discarded House language. When the bill was initially introduced in the House, it had a suggestion about studying “whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed.” But that suggestion was stripped out long before the House passed the bill, and it never surfaced in the Senate at all.

Meanwhile, the paranoids have never quite made up their minds whether the service initiative is fascist or communist, so they’ve invoked both. There has been blogosphere buzz about brownshits and “forced labor,” and it has been pointed out that the color scheme on the AmeriCorps home page (red, black, and white) is the same color scheme as the infamous Nazi flag. But we also have Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (she was bound to turn up) contending that the law is basically designed to brainwash the kids, by establishing what she calls “re-education camps for young people” – thus borrowing the terminology most closely associated with Vietnamese communists.

And these nuts were in charge of the country for the eight years.


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