Lately, life has felt like the tail end of a zombie movie. As the sun rises over the tattered scene, bloodied protagonists let out a collective sigh of relief that finally, almost unbelievably, the nightmare is over. But before the credits roll, one last demon pops up where they least expect it, for that final scare.
Except this isn’t a movie. No, it’s more like the never-ending Friday the 13th series (the twelfth in the series to be released in 2009), with enemies that keep coming back and almost winning with the same old attacks. After the collective sigh of relief that followed the election of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), liberals have already started the infighting and self-criticism. But the boogeyman is still out there, and he’s amassing an army.
One phalanx in the fight belongs to Grassfire.org. Just like the name suggests, Grassfire imagines itself as a grassroots effort, but is largely on the surface. And just like the image it provokes, its members are planning a blitzkrieg of fear mongering and misinformation.
Grassfire sent out an e-mail designed to scare people into joining its “army that is ready to take on Obama’s agenda.” But are the issues of most importance to this new “resistance” group really part of Obama’s plan for the nation?
The e-mail lists nine “threats to our liberties” presented by the incoming administration. The common thread through all of these threats is alarmism. You’d think groups such as this would have learned from McCain’s campaign blunder and not try to paint Obama as a socialist, but that’s number one on the list of threats (another page warns of Obama’s “‘brave new world’ of collectivism,” which would be funny if it wasn’t so sad). The group also warns the “end of marriage” is on the horizon and that liberals, of all people, want to restrict free speech.
These warnings rely chiefly on misdirection. Take, for example, Grassfire’s warning of “open border anarchy.” On its Web site, Grassfire claims their “award-winning ‘Where’s The Fence?’ TV spots — featuring three old ladies looking for the border fence — became the catch-phrase for opponents of D.C.’s amnesty plan.”
Though the border fence and immigration reform are related, asking “Where is the fence?” (which Obama voted in favor of when he was in the Senate) obscures the issue. The narrator of the ad says “Now Congress and the president want to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens instead of securing the border.” The truth is, it’s not an either/or situation. The so-called amnesty bill, penned by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), didn’t pass. The border fence did. We’re building a border fence, not offering amnesty.
In reality, Obama’s immigration agenda emphasizes a secure border before anything else. With the looming problems of the economy, energy, and foreign wars, most immigration experts believe Obama and Congress will hold off on any new reforms until late in his term, if then.
Another creative turn of phrase translates Obama’s post-partisan politics into his “post-American agenda.” This is more than just clever linguistics; they clearly see partisanship as elemental to being American. Grassfire began as a staunch supporter of George W. Bush in 2000. In fact, some of its first petitions were merely vehicles for people to voice support for the president. They maintained that Congress and the American people should support their president in wartime, and that those who criticize the president are unpatriotic and mean to do harm to the country. Now that the president is a member of another party, there is no need to give him even a second to prove his ability to lead this nation, especially if he wants to do it in a non-partisan way. Coalition building is just not American!
According to the Center for Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch site, Grassfire is anything but grassroots. The 501(c)4 is listed as a “front group” on the site, and SourceWatch notes that public relations for Grassfire are handled by Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, whose president, Craig Shirley, was part of the team that created the infamous Willie Horton ad. Shirley and Banister represent like-minded clients such as Ann Coulter, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, and the National Rifle Association.
Grassfire is one of many groups amassing armies to fight everything Obama tries to do, no matter where it falls on the political spectrum. Despite Obama’s promise to reach across the aisle and to be everyone’s president, no matter if they voted for him or not, some people will never learn to work together. In order to make the most out of a Democratic-led government (much as Bush & Co. did for conservative aims during their time in office), we don’t need to stoop to marginalization and fear mongering like the radical right does. But we do need to be prepared for the fact that there really are monsters under the bed.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
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