Diary by Audiegrl
From Tim Wise written @ DKos—At first it seemed little more than a bizarre rant, only slightly worse than those to which we’ve grown accustomed, given the source. To wit, Rush Limbaugh, who on September 11 condemned President Obama for speaking that day about community service, and encouraging young people to become involved in service projects as a way to help make America a better place. Far from seeing such a call as a positive request to take personal responsibility for improving one’s nation, to Limbaugh, it was little more than the “first step toward fascism,” intended to conscript the young into a volunteer army, bent on helping to carry out the President’s political agenda.
Community service, Limbaugh explained, was something that should be done by convicts. Specifically, he offered: “Let prisoners do it, let prisoners pick up the trash. Let prisoners mow some highway grass. This — this community service, folks, it’s insidious. It is nothing more than a well-sounding compassionate label. But it means something entirely different. It means turning you into a robot.” Yes, of course. That’s not insane at all.
The anti-social nature of the diatribe was stunning. Service, according to the gospel of Limbaugh, is for suckers, for society’s “losers,” for people who have committed crimes. In other words, it should be viewed as punishment rather than as something to be applauded and encouraged. To do for community is a fool’s errand.
Yet as bizarre as his words may seem at first blush, they actually illustrate with bold clarity the fundamental (and increasingly common) core of the conservative belief system. They speak to the sociopathy that is at the heart of the far-right worldview. It is a worldview that holds, quite simply, that doing for others is contemptible; that doing for self is the purpose of human life; that altruism and service are somehow pathologies pushed by collectivists and should be subordinated to selfishness and greed.
Sound too extreme? Well if so, consider this. Among the most interesting phenomena of the past year–and especially since the inauguration of Barack Obama–has been the explosion of interest in (and sales of) books by the late author, Ayn Rand: most prominently her classic novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Indeed, the latter had an all-time record year in 2008, and 2009 sales are on a pace to shatter even last year’s numbers.
If you haven’t picked up a copy of Tim Wise’s great book “Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama“ please do. I highly recommend it. You probably have seen Tim on your favorite political cable programs. This is a man who ‘speaks truth to power‘, and continues to do so, even after he received threats after his appearance on Fox News. His is an important voice, that we need to make sure is heard.