Living in America at a time when the terms of virtually every political debate are set by the right-wing noise machine is like living in a science fiction dystopia in which malign forces try to enslave the population by deliberately causing mass brain damage. If evil alien overlords were attempting to infest all of our minds with toxins that made us all significantly stupider, and thus made us increasingly fearful of things that couldn't possibly harm us, it would be exactly like living with widespread conservative propaganda.
In today's example (via PJ Media), we're told that a teaser video for the Olympics "praises" Soviet communism by calling it "one of modern history's pivotal experiments." This is being said all over the wingnuttosphere -- at Fox News and Fox Nation and Hot Air and Twitchy. Marco Rubio is demagoguing this on Twitter. Glenn Beck's Blaze joins the pile-on even while (unwittingly?) explaining why the entire hissyfit is preposterous:
According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, pivotal is defined as "of, relating to, or constituting a pivot" or "vitally important."Yes! Exactly! "Pivotal" doesn't mean "super-awesome." It means "important." It's as acceptable to say that the Soviet era was a pivotal historical event just as it's acceptable to say that Hurricane Katrina was a pivotal event in the history of New Orleans.
Here's a fuller version of the voiceover, along with a video that shows most of what was said. (A non-embeddable video showing all the images that match the text is at PJ Media.) Please notice what's going on: Peter Dinklage, the narrator, is praising Russia, not the Soviet Union. He's praising Russians for turning their country into an important nation in the pre-Revolution era. And after the shout-out to the communist period -- with "pivotal" clearly used in lieu of a word of praise, to make the point that the Russians certainly made their presence felt, for good or evil -- the ensuing praise is (as the fuller video makes clear) for Russian ballet and symphonic music and nesting dolls and vodka and so on. The Soviet-era space program gets cited, but that's science.
"The towering presence, the empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint. The revolution that birthed one of modern history's pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped our sense of who they are, it's passion that endures. As a more reliable right to their collective heart. What they build in aspirations lifted by imagination. What they craft, through the wonder of every last detail. How magical the fusion of sound and movement can be. How much a glass of distilled perfection and an overflowing table can matter. Discover the Russian people through these indelible signatures. Discover what we share with them through the games that open here tonight."Are nesting dolls communist? Is Tchaikovsky communist? Is vodka communist? No. So stop complaining.
At the beginning of this post, I compared the right to evil aliens. Let me try another comparison: Sharing America with movement conservatives is like living with one of those bullying neighbors who sues people incessantly, over the tiniest slights, and then gets taken seriously in court. It's exhausting.