Monday, June 16, 2008

Texas Fred and the Banality of Racism

This post is an update to my earlier entries, "Texas Fred's Bigotry," and "Texas Fred's No Holds Barred Anti-Immigrant Racism."

Readers will recall that
Texas Fred is the bullying online megalomaniac who spouts some of the most reprehensible anti-immigrant racism to found in the conservative blogosphere.

I first came into contact with Texas Fred in 2006, in the comment thread of conservative milblogger, where the issue under discussion was victory in Iraq (and recall that this was pre-surge, and things weren't going well).
Texas Fred's a Bush-basher, and he was spouting the extreme antiwar line, and I called him out for his advocacy of all the Murtha/Pelosi talking points. It got a bit nasty, and things now have been rekindled.

For further background on the reemergence of the debate, check
Saber Point.

In any case, there's been an interesting (or disturbing) number of developments over the weekend in response to my rebuttals of
Texas Fred's anti-immigrant ideology.

I've received a lot of support from readers, in the comments and in private e-mails, and I'm grateful. Texas Fred apparently has been reaching out by e-mail to other conservative bloggers in an effort to find validation for his hated. Samantha West,
in the comments to my last post, reported:

Well, he emailed me and asked if I thought he was advocating murder. My response: yes he is.

The problem with such kinds of hatred is that it is easily transferred to any group: bigots need a group to hate, and they will fill that need with anyone who comes along and doesn't act like them.
There's more at the comment, but note that Samantha was so turned off by all of this she wrote her own elegant post repudiating anti-immigrant eliminationism: "Why Do You Hate Them So Much?"

I communicated with another blogging buddy by e-mail as well, and he indicated to me that he'd requested that he be taken off the
Texas Fred blogroll. I clicked on the link to Texas Fred's blog in my buddy's note, and it turns out my ISP had been blocked by a plug-in filter system Texas Fred uses to ban critics of his racism, preventing them from monitoring his hatred. When I spoke to my buddy by e-mail later he wrote back:

I'm laughing. I've been banned from Texas Fred's site. When I attempt access it diverts me to the ACLU. The measure of a man...
That's right: Texas Fred's filter-block redirects his critics to the home page of the American Civil Liberties Union!

There's an unbeatable combination of irony and hypocrisy in this feat, by a far right-wing bigot, who bans his critics by redirecting them to the far-left wing homepage of the defenders of open-borders illegal-immigrant sanctuary radicals. You can't make this stuff up!!

But follow along, because it all makes sense: It turns our Texas Fred both sought out validation AND banned his critics while putting up a Father's Day post bragging about his patriotic right to demonize illegals:
To ALL of My Low Class Redneck Friends:

We have been called REDNECK, BEER DRINKING, NASCAR LOVING, BACK WOODS, HILLBILLY, PORCH SITTING, GUN TOTING, CRACKERS, DAMNED-FOOL, CRACKER AIRHEAD, FAT-ASSED MURDERING NAZIS and RACISTS simply because WE want to stand up for America while there is still an America to stand up FOR.

And to those accusations I say: IF my standing up for America makes me all of that, then I wear the title of REDNECK proudly, and I hope all my FRIENDS enjoy this little musical thank you!!

We may not be PhD’s, we’re not FAUX Intellectuals, we don’t live in Ivory Towers and we’re NOT hypocrites, we KNOW what we are, we love our families, our homes and our nation, we’re REAL Conservatives, not RINO posers and we’re proud of it too!!

God Bless America, God Bless Texas and God Bless each and every one of you wonderful AMERICAN REDNECKS!!
Now, while there are no links to my page, the references to Ph.D.'s, "faux" intellectuals, RINOs, and so forth, represent outright libelous attacks on my reputation. Here's Texas Fred in his comment over at American and Proud, where had responded to the blog's host, Robert (who had commented on my page):

Damn Donnie Dickless, your superiority complex is enormous…

I hope you realize that not everyone is as impressed with your faux intellect as you are, that was what got your ass run off from Jarheads place the last time…

And because you were pretty much told off, you have taken issue with me in nearly every format that has followed since, troll much Donnie??
Aside from the vulgarity, this quote immediately links Texas Fred at American Proud to his latest slurs on my reputation on his home page. So readers can see why I find it just mindboggling that these "real" conservatives, who pound their chests and announce their martial superiority, and who display tremendously patriotic images on their blogs, actually claim to represent the mainstream of the traditional American right:

American and Proud

Now, in my previous entries (here and here) I went too far in suggesting that maybe Texas Fred's page should be taken down for advocating racist hatred and eliminationism. Constitutionally, extremist hate speech is protected, as long as there is no explicit incitement to violence.

So far, while the noxious sentiment expressed by Texas Fred and his commenters is extreme, I've yet to see Texas Fred, by definition, urge his readers to commit violence on his behalf.

I don't read Texas Fred 's page, of course, and I've never trawled through his archives, so perhaps that's the motivation for setting up the plug-in ISP filter-system.

The issue, in any case, is larger, in that the right of free speech should not be moral license to bigotry and hatred, but that's exactly what's happening in Texas Fred's echo-chamber. I mean, this type of advocacy is not just "venting." We're seeing the extreme glorification of martial eliminationism, which goes just so far before its hedged as constitutionally protected or as plausibly deniable.

Look over at
Texas Fred's later comment at American and Proud:

I wouldn’t be terribly upset if the POTUS decided to put me on the border with a 50 cal with shoot to kill orders, I would miss a few at first but eventually I’d get the hang of it.
Read that whole thread, as well as some of the others at these blogs - it's just more of the same.

In fact, this is what I call the "banality of racism," which draws on the concept of the "
banality of evil," from Hannah Arendt. Arendt's thesis is controversial, but it does have application.

For our purposes, we're seeing the essential banality of racism in Texas Fred's blog rings.
Banality refers the commonplace, the ordinary, the unquestioned. When old Freddie writes up all his bigoted posts, and all of the commenters engage in mutually congratulatory flagellation, it's just establishing racist immigrant-bashing ("shoot-to-kill" or "starve the bastard babies") as commonplace and correctly ordinary.

Contemplation of the horrific becomes operationalized in terms of "normalization." With reference to Arendt, normalization in the Nazi context refered to the process in which noxious, inhumane, murderous, and unspeakable acts become routine and standard. The justification is found in statements like, "I was just following orders," which is similar to Texas Fred's assertion that "if the POTUS decided to put me on the border with a cal" he might miss a few at first, but would soon be mowing down the "wetbacks." All of this would be just fine, because it's seen as structually mechanical, ordered from above. No need to think about ultimate moral or human agency. Just kill the "bastards," and be done with it.

More recently,
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen has gone much further than straightforward "normalization" of mass murder in his book, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. He argued that everyday Germans acted on the basis of eliminationist anti-Semitism, and thus the origins and progression of Nazi Germany's extermination of the Jews bubbled from the bottom-up, rather than having been coerced by totalitarian elites.

Adolp Hitler

Now, while I don't want to take such analogies too far, it's certainly the case that those of the Texas Fred blog rings reflect a banality of racism in the commonplace sense used here. Also, recall from above that old Freddie argues that this is what "REAL conservatives" do, not "RINO posers," and that's the problem.

Clear-thinking people know that this level of racial intolerance and anti-immigrant bigotry simply is
not mainstream thinking in America.

Texas Fred knows this, deep down, which is why he bans by plug-in filter (and ACLU redirection) those who would shine down the bright light of moral opprobium. It is why he seeks external validation by sending his e-mail probes to potentially sympathetic conservatives, like Samantha above, who he might then recruit into his hate syndicate. It is why he seeks further justfication by lurking around the web to find examples that might validate his views, for example, in his post today, "
Michael Reagan Advocates the Mass Murder of 9/11 Truthers."

If there's no psychology at work here, then we're substantiating the "banality of racism" thesis, and we can see where things might logically go. If there's some true mental derangement at work, on the other hand, then the man needs help (as some of my readers have suggested).

Whatever the case, this kind of hate makes it harder for the rest of us conservatives, who respect the rule of law, and who practice some level of divine tolerance, even when we're outraged at our government.

This hate makes it more difficult, because the true extremists - the
nihilist left whose anti-Semitism and racism I'd rather be exposing - can point to folks like Texas Fred, who claims to be the "true GOP," and then extrapolate to smear all conservatives as "fascist."

This simply will not do.

Now before concluding, let me disabuse those readers who might think I'm becoming obsessed with Texas Fred.

Frankly, I'll be really glad if I never write another post on the issue. But for anyone who spends serious time on the web, it's a matter of principle to rebut hateful slurs against one's integrity, morals, and reputation. For example, recall Peter Wehner's devastating take-down of Joe Klein's misrepresentions, "
The Klein and the Fury."

Finally, I'm no William F. Buckley. I just want to be on record as defending my integrity in a way that promotes a respectable model of how a morally right conservative should act, First Amendment guarantees or not.

Texas Fred and his webrings of hate do not constitute that model.