Dumb and Dumber

Yesterday I came across this video on You Tube of a young man named Robert Erickson giving a speech at a Minnesota Tea Party Against Amnesty. Erickson is introduced as a resident concerned about illegal immigration. He says the usual litany of complaints about immigrants: they steal our jobs, they stress our infrastructure, they tax our overburdened system.  As he rails against immigrants, though, you begin to see that he’s not talking about the usual suspects here. He mentions the murderous spread of small pox which led to the deaths of “millions of Americans.” He then asks the crowd if they are with him. They enthusiastically shout, “Yes!” And Erickson follows it up by yelling, “Let’s send these European immigrants back where they came from!”  The crowd goes right along with it, enthusiastically chanting “Columbus go home!”

If were good little Leftists were supposed to see this as an affirmation of just how stupid right-wingers are.

But then there’s this video by Penn and Teller in which they get Leftists to sign a petition banning water. And if you’re a good little right-winger you’ll see that as an affirmation of just how stupid people on the Left are.

With all the problems were are facing I think it’s time to move beyond such infantile discourse. It’s not hard to make people look stupid. These two videos prove that. But it is hard to find common ground and build real grass roots movements that will affect real and lasting change. We need to start taking each other seriously.


  1. Here’s the difference: The right-wing groups are fighting against immigration, when their own ancestry is that of immigrants. I doubt many of them are native americans or ancestors there-of. When looked at in that light, it’s not an argument of “intelligence”, but rather one of hypocrisy. You see a group belittling immigrants, when they themselves are descendants of immigrants. It’s an issue of recognizing heritage and history.

    The Penn and Teller spot is a test of general intelligence, not of left-ness or right-ness. Namely it points out that some people don’t know the chemical name for water, and that when told the effects of water in a scary and exaggerated way, people are reactionary. This would work just as well (in fact I bet it would work BETTER) on right-wingers, and is a gauge of intelligence and reactivity in our society as a whole.

    While I agree with your overall point, I disagree with how you’re trying to prove it. Yes, we do need to stop sniping at each other in the left vs right camps. The problem is though that in many cases the left has put out the olive branch only to see it torched by the right. Many in the right are of the poisoned well variety. If they can’t have it their way, they’ll poison the well so that nobody can have it. The left, which vicious in its ways at times, generally doesn’t employ scorched earth tactics.

    A good example: Recent bills and legislation. In the Bush era for over 6 years the Republicans had both houses and the executive branch. How often were there changes made to “try to gain Democratic votes”, or promote “bi-partisanship”? I recall none. How many times in the past 10 months though have bills been changed and negotiated to appease the right, even with a democratic majority in both houses? And how many times, even after being changed to appease the right, have they turned around and still fought, blocked, and voted against the legislation after negotiations to include their ideas? Every time so far that I’ve seen.

    Even now you have Republicans trying to block passage of the health care bill, asking for the whole 2,000 page document to be read aloud before discussion on it can begin. They threaten as a block, to filibusterer every bill presented for a vote, after nearly abolishing the practice when Democrats threatened to use it a few dozen times in the decade long reign of the Republicans. They’re doing things that they screamed was killing America when the Democrats did it 3 years ago. And don’t even get me started on how speaking ill of our president (Bush) made you “unpatriotic”, while speaking ill of our president (Obama) makes you a national hero.

    The issue at hand isn’t intelligence, it’s hypocrisy. And while I know both sides have plenty of examples to show through the ages, I can’t help but see the glaring beacon that is right wing conservative hypocrisy brightly shining from our capital right now. And I can’t help but also note that the beacon was not nearly as bright in the last decade (or even the last few decades for that matter.)

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