A BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
Where Have All the Black Helicopters Gone?
Clinton Conspiracies vs. Bush Realities
June 18, 2002
by Dwayne Eutsey
As alarmist as conservatives were during eight years of Bill Clinton's presidency, when nothing more dangerous than oral sex in the Oval Office posed a threat to American democracy, it puzzles me that they are so silent now that our civil liberties are actually being stripped away daily by the Bush administration.
With the exception of a few conservatives like Alan Keyes, few on the right today seem as hot and bothered by the apparent dictatorial nature of their unelected president as they were by those paranoid fantasies they had about Clinton throughout the 1990s.
I know it's like trying to recall a psychotic episode, but I'm sure you can recall the delusional conspiracy theories that fueled the vast right-wing propaganda machine during the last decade. Remember when Clinton was about to declare martial law in America after instigating a false national emergency? Remember when his legions of blue-helmeted minions from the UN were flying the skies in their sinister black helicopters?
Sure you do. It was right after Clinton established his secret Marxist government. You know, the one funded by all that money he made as governor of Arkansas when he smuggled tons of cocaine into the United States and murdered all those people "who knew too much."
Unfortunately, I'm familiar with many of these far-right conspiracy theories because I used to live in western Maryland during the Clinton years. That part of the state is rather conservative and some people there still wax nostalgic for the time when Confederate troops briefly occupied the region. Every Saturday night the local TV station in Hagerstown aired two hours of ultraconservative politics, old-time religion, and conspiracy theories that was truly hysterical, in both senses of the word.
The fun began with televangelist Jack van Impe, who, along with his wife Rexella, have been warning us for over twenty years that the end is indeed at hand. They were followed by a live talk show that just loved to scare the bejeezus out of viewers about the impending worldwide Y2K disaster. Then the evening's entertainment culminated with a burly minister from Texas who was certain that UN troops were right outside the studio waiting for Clinton's command to burst through the door and drag him off to a gulag somewhere in Idaho.
I imagine a lot of viewers were pretty tired the next morning in church after sitting up all night with ol' Bessie in hand, just a-waitin' fer them dang liberals to start settin' up their one-world gov'ment.
Aside from their paranoid worldview, the one thing these shows had in common was good old American capitalism. Jack Van Impe sold videos about the coming one-world dictatorship or how UFOs were flown by demons (seriously). The talk show sold freeze-dried food supplies so viewers would have something nutritious and delicious to eat when Y2K ushered in the End Times. And the guy from Texas sold videos with footage of black helicopters and UN military equipment that somehow proved an invasion of the US was imminent.
They were all cashing in on the lucrative cottage industry that developed among the far-right wing after Clinton's election in 1992. You may remember Jerry Falwell's paranoid classic, "The Clinton Chronicles," the magnum opus of that genre in which the dastardly man from Hope was exposed as a murderous, sex-crazed drug smuggler.
Plenty of other bizarre propaganda was produced as well. One video, "Global Governance: The Quiet War Against American Independence," featured none other than John Ashcroft (before he lost his Senate seat to a dead man) and a host of other conservative luminaries (or should that be "lunatics"?) who thought America was in danger from the New World Order Clinton was allegedly establishing.
According to the program, produced by Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, feminism, gay rights, multiculturalism, environmentalism, and a host of other liberal bogeymen were all apparently part of a secret plot to weaken American sovereignty and create a socialist One World Government.
Of course, what all of these shows lacked in evidence they more than made up for in half-truths, innuendo, speculation, hearsay, and outright falsehoods. Despite years of unrelenting investigations, both congressional and independent, and millions and millions of taxpayer money squandered, not one of the allegations by these right-wing cranks panned out.
It was all fantasy. But that didn't seem to bother the large audience of conservatives who watched the programs every week and bought the videos and read the books. It also didn't seem to factor into the battle plans drawn up by all those militias that sprang up in reaction to the notion that Clinton was scheming to implement a dictatorship in America.
With the Bush administration coming very close to accomplishing exactly what these conservatives feared Clinton was doing, I have to wonder where are they all now? In less than two years, Bush has done more to imperil civil rights and basic democratic principles in this country than Clinton could even do in the fevered imaginations of right-wing conspiracists. And yet, the silence on the right, as they say, is deafening.
Here's a brief compilation of the all-too-real ways (all reported in the mainstream media) that the Bush regime is creating what increasingly resembles a police state in the United States.
These are genuine examples from here and now. Not ludicrous speculations about black helicopters or socialist plots, but hard facts about the ongoing erosion of our Bill of Rights under the Bush administration.
I know there are actual external threats to our country that warrant cautious exercise of our freedoms and rights. But, as Bill Moyers pointed out during the Iran/contra scandals, the Framers of our Constitution were all too aware of the dangerous world beyond American borders. Yet, they put their faith in the principles of democracy rather than the rule of despotism.
They also put their faith in our ability as a nation to remain rooted in the real world as we actively fought to maintain and nurture America's idealistic assumptions about personal liberty amid the threats and messy complexities of reality.
Perhaps that explains the silence coming from most conservatives today. While those of us fighting to resist the very real threat posed by the Bush administration to our liberties are desperately trying to live up to our Founders' faith, right-wingers are popping the "Clinton Chronicles" one more time into the VCR and quietly reliving the good ol' days when the only threat to our democracy was all safely in their head.
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