When tea party types are asked to explain their placards comparing President Obama to Adolph Hitler, their answers are often - well - unsophisticated. That makes it pretty easy for us to then see those protesters as morons, or worse.
Moreover, if we were to probe their belief systems, we would likely find some hidden - or not so hidden - racist, anti-semitic and homophobic tendencies. Then we could comfortably conclude that it’s actually the attitudes and behaviors of the Obama- accusers that are, in fact, “Hitlerian”.
But I don’t think we should do this.
We know that demonization sometimes takes place on the left. In particularly bitter union organizing, contract and political battles, for example, worker hostility toward employers, business leaders and political foes can be acute. Stirring up militant emotions is important in building union power. But the level of rage among certain workers in these campaigns can often seem over the top.
I’m not offering a direct equivalence between worker anger in a labor dispute and fanatic right wing hysteria. But organizers across ideologies know that creating an “us versus them” dynamic is usually essential in motivating people for action.
The common denominator is, I think, a sense of helplessness among many struggling Americans. With the reach of the American Labor Movement drastically reduced over the years, wage-earners are isolated and susceptible to extremist views.
Am I suggesting that under different circumstances, some or many of the Obama-haters would be on our side, fighting for good wages and a more equitable economy? I suppose I am.