Everybody knows the game our self-proclaimed "patriots" are playing with "Obama's a Muslim" and the self-righteous faux outrage over "the Ground Zero terror mosque."
Everybody except, of course, the willing dupes who comprise the intended target of the GOP brass, Glenn Beck, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and all those who define themselves through their rage.
It's all about hate; it's all about fear; it's all about paranoia. It also is all about politics and the upcoming midterm elections.
What it's also about is playing with fire. It's about ginning up a mob to demand that the federal government . . . New York city government . . . hell, anybody tear down the whole edifice of our constitutional rule in the name of saving the republic from The Other.
The cynical right wants us all to become a lynch mob to save ourselves from terrorism, which is related -- somehow -- to America's first black, socialist, Nazi Muslim president. Or something like that.
It's not exactly a credit to our cultural and democratic bona fides that the vast majority of Americans fail to see the deep and toxic irony of this.
INSTEAD, every time I log on to Facebook, I am confronted with the sidebar list of how many family members, friends and old classmates "like" Glenn Beck.
Like Glenn Beck, like his message. Unfortunately, Beck's message is both bats*** crazy and racially incendiary.
As you know, I grew up in the Deep South -- south Louisiana to be exact. I know what that was all about 40 and 50 years ago, and what it is still too much about now.
I can't judge anybody's heart today -- especially folks I haven't seen in years, decades even -- but I know how a lot of them were raised. I know how I was raised.
I know what was in the cultural air we breathed. How we never gave our assumptions, or those of the society around us, a second thought as we took spiritual Corexit into our hearts and minds. I know that such enculturation can be nearly inexorable, because when you're raised that way from birth, the poison gets into that space between visceral reaction and engagement of the conscience and the mind.
SCRATCH THE SURFACE of my home state, Louisiana, and you'll quickly get to a very bad place. Do the same in any part of America, and you're likely to find varying states of the same collective id.
They say the devil's greatest trick is to convince us he doesn't exist. He just hides in our crooked hearts as our overconfidence congratulates itself on what good, moral, patriotic and God-fearing works of art we have become.
Yet the lynch mob sings "Onward Christian Soldiers" as "the better angels of our nature" twist in the wind, strange fruit of a demagogue's tree.