With Friends Like These...

I have lately pulled back my activities on what used to be a progressive blog but has delved into a slugfest against President Obama, the Daily Kos.  But I was out there just out of curiosity earlier in the week, and maybe I should have just stayed away.  It's gotten worse.  We have everything from calling President Obama stupid and a dangerous Republican to admitted Naderites calling for left wing radicalism to a flat out race baiting ad against President Obama that belies its own premise (here's the post on kos), to the run of the mill attacks accusing the President of being "pushed around."

As I watched in pure disbelief these "diaries" take up spots on the "(w)rec(k) list," I really couldn't believe myself for a while.  I mean, this is a joke, right?  It has to be.  I checked the Calendar.  It wasn't April 1st.  No, this was no joke.  This was a chorus of chaos.  And it screamed out a single note, with the pitch of a cat clawing a chalkboard: this place, at least then, was more interested in bashing President Obama than making any substantive progress.  In fact, it wasn't even about substance.  It was about screaming and yelling.  Well, to be more precise, it was about screaming and yelling that the President Obama wasn't doing enough screaming and yelling.  And therefore he's a dangerous Republican push-over.

I could repeat here objective measures by which Barack Obama is a transformative progressive president.  I could talk about facts and figures and reforms and reasonable discourse.  But it would go right over the heads of these pinheads.  I have learned that to them, real world accomplishments do not matter.  Much like far Right wingers, they see the world in black and white, and Obama for them falls on the black side of things (yes, in that sense too).

It's a moment of truth.  A truth about where the establishment Left bloggers stand in this battle.  Do they stand with these people causing these firestorms and calling Obama stupid, dangerous and a Republican?  Do they stand with race baiting against the first African American president?  Do they stand with calls for radicalization?  Do they stand with calling the President a coward?  The old "I'm not responsible for what's prominently featured on my site" excuse will no longer do.  President Obama once said that free markets were a good idea but wild markets were not.  The same applies to free-wheeling discussions.  This is no longer about free-wheeling conversations but about ginning up a wild virtual mob to destroy Barack Obama, and thereby irreparably harm the modern progressive movement's ability to make progress.  This is hate speech being condoned, promoted and made money off of on the big blogs.

It's time for us to know.  The field of free speech is expansive, and I have always recognized hate speech as free speech.  But the biggest blog on the left has a decision to make.  Is it going to stick to its motto of being a Democratic site, or isn't it?  And a commitment to remain a faithful Democratic site will require the reining in of the virtual mob.  It will require sending a message that just because outrage sells, turning everything into an outrage and burning down the Democratic house will not be tolerated.

There's something to be said against making moral equivalences between President Obama's critics on the right and the left.  After all, the critics on the ideological left aren't questioning the President's birth certificate, or threatening him with firearms.  But the zeal of the left ideologues to constantly whack the President for not being perfect does no less damage than the seething anger of the far right to also constantly whack the President because he is president.  A democratic society cannot survive squeezed between ideologically rigid mountains, fueled by media fire squeezing it.  A progressive movement cannot flourish if it chooses to put rigidity of ideology over the fluidity of progress.

Perhaps it is also time for progressives to realize that the leadership of the blog establishment world, attempting to morph into a media establishment world, is either thoroughly negligent or willful accomplices of this detrimental vibe on the progressive movement.  Whichever it is, it needs to stop, or their mantles of leadership and representation need to be surrendered.


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