Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Right Wing Head Explosion

Greenwald has an interesting piece up about how the recent riots involving Uighurs in western China confuse the crap out of right-wingers. On the one hand, conservatives are (rightly) concerned with the spread of democracy and ending tyranny, and the Chinese government has not been kind to the Uighurs. On the other hand, the Uighurs are Muslim, and if the right wing just spent the last couple of months cowering in fear of 13 harmless Uighurs, how would they react to a city full of pissed-off Uighurs? As of now, at least one wingnut has chosen fear and loathing.

Here's what happened, best as I can tell: about a week ago, some Han Chinese people spread a rumor on the Internet that a Uighur had raped and killed two Han women. Two Uighurs were killed at a southern China factory because of the rumor. That, combined with the lack of equal rights for Uighurs in China, touched off protests - and later, riots - in Urumqi, the capital of China's Uighur region. The Han Chinese in the city began rioting themselves, and a lot of people were killed. Police began arresting Uighurs who participated in the protests, which touched off more protests, which started more riots. This Post article is pretty good.

This is a bit of a sticky wicket, but it's clear that the Uighurs aren't solely at fault here. They appear to have been provoked by the oppressive Chinese government and some Han race-baiters. Yes, they shouldn't have rioted, but that's hardly terrorism, as Mr. McCarthy (linked above) would have you believe. Greenwald says this is indicative of the Right's fear of Muslims. Mr. McCarthy is hardly representative of the entire Right - he's a somewhat minor contributor to the National Review. But if McCarthy's views are echoed by the more establishment figures on the Right, it says a lot about conservatism in general.

By listening to right-wing talking heads, one might conclude that conservatives are afraid of a lot - gay marriage, health care reform, terrorists, you name it. There are perhaps rational conservative arguments to be made on all these issues, but conservatives rarely make them. Instead, it's "protect marriage" (as if it's under attack); or "protect us from socialism" (as if health care reform will turn us into Soviet Russia). And when it comes to terrorism, the right-wing fear appeal gets ugly - they're willing to talk people into believing that anything less than giving the harshest treatment to people who may or may not be terrorists will be signing our own death warrant. And when conservatives see violence involving Muslims and non-Muslims, that only feeds their fear.

Funny thing about fear, though - people tend to get over it after a while. Conservatism needs to jettison that fear and go back to rational arguments if they want to win elections again.

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