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No Lesser Stereotype?

February 28th, 2008

My brother gave me a book some time ago, one called No Lesser Plea, recommending it as one to read. It is, from what I can tell, a story about a ruthless killer who slips through the cracks of the justice system, and must be dealt with accordingly. The problem is, I couldn’t finish it. It was just too ridiculously a right-wing fantasy. It was bad enough that the author had a cold-blooded murderer which the police had dead to rights get off scot-free by erupting in court and yelling “You hurt my momma!” (Um, yeah, right. Like that’s all it takes.) But I really had to put the book down after reading this description of the court-appointed psychiatrist:

Dr. Stone was not prejudiced. He considered himself a liberal, in that he believed that when black people were violent and committed crimes it was not really their fault.

All of this struck me as so ludicrous as to be beyond belief, except maybe by Ann-Coulter-level wingnuts who spout that kind of crap. But when I looked up the book in reviews on the web, nobody seemed to realize this. One review called the legal action “realistic,” and others praised the book in similar fashion. I mean, really? If I read a story where the author wrote, “He considered himself a conservative, in that he believed all black people were violent and committed crimes,” I would have a similar reaction; when the bias is so stark and unbelievable, the story loses its realism and becomes unpalatable.

I have to wonder, though, how many people believe this stuff. There seems to be a wide acceptance of the kinds of ideas this author, Tanenbaum, is shoveling forth. Maybe this is just colored by my own bias, but it seems that radical liberals are much more talked about as being out there, but radical conservative myths seem to be far more widely accepted and believed. Criminals being let off by liberal bleeding hearts, welfare queens bleeding the system dry, illegal immigrants stealing jobs and leeching off social welfare, Democrats guilty of taxing and spending us out of house and home… these untenable stereotypes nonetheless seem to get the greatest attention and the most widespread belief.

Is it just my imagination? Or is there far more outrageous right-wing myth circulating out there than there is liberal myth? If the reverse is true, then what are the liberal myths that have such strong a hold on the imagination and the fears of the American people?

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