Back when spy movies were all the rage, James Bond was still played by Sean Connery, and the villains were always faceless underground organizations with names such as SPECTRE, SMERSH, and THRUSH, someone I forget who made a parody spy flick in which the bad guys represented a shadowy outfit called THEM. As I recall, the film’s silliness made anything by the Three Stooges look like high art (unfortunately, I can’t remember enough of it to find a citation).
Leonard Pitts, Jr., reminds me that the film may not have been as much parody as I thought at the time:
Us versus them.
As in, an implicit promise to defend the former against the latter. This was its mission when it pushed for immigration quotas in the 1920s, when it animated the Red Scare of the 1950s, when it defined civil rights as a clear and present danger in the 1960s, when hardhats rioted against hippies in 1970. It is its organizing principle even today, as red states pass legislation to protect themselves from Sharia law and some of us define religious persecution as baking a cake for a same-sex couple.
Us versus them.
Always, social conservatism defined “them” as something faceless and frightening against which the rest of “us” must struggle with everything we had, or else be overrun. It is an ideology that has contributed virtually nothing of value to the life of the nation — unless you count mindless panic as a good thing.
He goes on to wonder whether the appeal of such tactics may be waning.
I fear that he is wrong. Fear sells, and hate always finds buyers.