Friday, May 15, 2009

Book Review: The Eliminationists

The Eliminationists - How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right by David Neiwert

The author of this book, David Neiwert, is a well-respected blogger, who blogs at Orcinus. In my opinion, he is one of the best writers in the blogsphere. His blogposts are well written and well researched, building on top of his great knowledge of the topics he blog about. On top of that, he is one of the few genuine experts in the blogsphere - he is your go-to man, if you want to know something about the far-right movement(s) in the US; a subject he has written books about in the past.

His newest book also relates to the far-right movement(s), and this time he focuses on how pundits, especially talk radio hosts, transmits extremist ideas into the mainstream conservative movement, by either transmitting these ideas as facts, or by allowing right-winged extremist access to their microphones, presenting them as mainstream voices and/or experts on the subject being discussed.

If you've read Neiwert's blog, Orcinus, you'll recognize the theme, and in many ways, the book can be considered a collection of his blogposts on the subject, distilled down to the core ideas and concepts, and fleshed out a bit.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed by the book, since it was neither as scholarly nor as journalistic as I had expected, based upon his earlier books. This time Neiwert's own opinions come to the fore much more, though still backed up with research and references. Even so, I would still consider this an important book, showing both how extremist ideas can spread and become mainstream, and how there are some real worrisome tendencies towards fascism among these extremists and their broadcasters.

This should not be misunderstood to mean that Neiwert thinks that the conservative movement is fascists, but he thinks the tendencies towards fascism are there, and he explains why he reaches this conclusion.

If you live in the US, or are interested in US politics, I recommend this book. It's not pleasant reading, but it's important, and even if you end up disagreeing with Neiwert's conclusions, you will have some things to think about.

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Blogger prohb said...

I agree with most of the book. Another book that argues much the same theme is Shock Doctrine. I am convinced more than ever that to not become sheep that are easily swayed by jingoistic right-wingers and to just give power to them to keep us safe we must become a resilient people. Resilient People:
A Resilient People:
* would be a frugal and energy conservation minded not because it's the latest green fad but because it’s wise and efficient and part of their lifestyle. Then the profits from our energy use would not go to the terrorists.
* would be strong and courageous in the face of crises....... terrorists or a natural disaster. For the latter, they will prepare intelligently. Start, for example, by taking a Red Cross first aid course. Police and fire officials stated that if more of the people in New Orleans knew basic first aid procedures a lot less problems would have ensued. For the former we must develop a belief so strong in our way of life that no evil can kowtow us. To do that we must get back to the basics of why our country is here and what our responsibility is. We must instill this in our youth and give them the protocols and skills necessary to survive and excel in an increasingly dangerous world. Let’s make our MESSAGE to the world as powerful as our muscle.
* Even though these resilient people respect and honor a military, and its prudent use, they will not cower behind it or expect it to solve all the problems in the world.
* answer the call for SERVICE rather than just shopping. They participate in their community. Have a local system in place to help people thru these tough times. Yes, we have to spend something or no one would have a job…but lets spend on things we need and that are good for our economy/environment not on frivolous items.
* to get through these hard times we must all pull together with community service and a partial "time-banking" economy. Check this out - it is a great idea that goes beyond just bartering. Many communities and countries are starting to do it!
* Grow more of our own food. Maybe some of the stimulus money should go to this .....especially in inner cities where community and windowsill gardens could be promoted.

* will stay in shape so as not to jack up health care and energy costs. (The federal government could help by making Wellness a priority....and help promote it with information dissemiunation.)
* know and understand their civic responsibility. They have an understanding of what our Constitution is all about and they VOTE!
* have a can-do attitude, they problem solve and they don't shy away from tough decisions.

June 09, 2009 3:34 PM  

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