[media id=9289] Bill O'Reilly spent his Talking Points Memo segment last night lambasting Republicans for letting themselves get carried away by the
August 4, 2009

Bill O'Reilly spent his Talking Points Memo segment last night lambasting Republicans for letting themselves get carried away by the "Birther" controversy. But then later, he continued his defense of the Birthers' chief mainstream promoter, Lou Dobbs -- mostly because the main entity attacking Dobbs is also a familiar enemy for O'Reilly:

O'Reilly: Check 6. The far-left group Media Matters is after Lou Dobbs. [Ad plays.] ... Now, check sees nothing racial in the birth-certificate controversy. It's all about far-right politics.

But Media Matters traffics in alleged racism. It's one of their favorite attack tactics.

Sorry, Bill, but if you really had any clue about the nature of far-right politics, you'd be aware that race is their primary motivator. If it's all about far-right politics, then more than likely it's all about race.

Moreover, it's obvious that race is the major subtext of the Birther conspiracy theory. The purpose of the entire meme is to underscore for Americans the idea that Obama is foreign, an outsider, not a "real American." Obama's mixed-race heritage is the central feature of this -- and reminding everyone that Obama's mother was a white woman who married a black African is all about touching on the more reptilian portion of the American psyche.

Conspiracy theories are all about creating scapegoats and delegitimizing enemies. There's a long history in this country of successful African Americans being attacked in this fashion by similar whisper campaigns that gradually migrate to the general public gossip. As Ana Marie Cox said yesterday on MSNBC, the Birther controversy is directly out of a history of "attempts to de-person black people and to treat them as something than full people, less than full humans".

Not that Bill O'Reilly -- himself a frequent practitioner of such enterprises -- would be likely to recognize this.

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