Skip to content

Into the Warroom; a barely noticed source of Right Wing Rhetoric

May 30, 2022

1994, the middle of the 90’s, and the height of anti-government and economic rhetoric on the Right, with Newt Gingrich shutting the government down, and conservatives placing a steady focus on “big government spending” (of our too high “taxes”), with the loudest decried expense being “social programs”. (This as two brand spanking new federal courthouses featuring amenities such as bronze doorknobs are built in lower Manhattan, over historical sites: one, the colonial era African Burial Ground, and the other, the notorious 19th century Five Points, right next to the state courthouse I worked in. All of this on top of stuff you occasionally heard on the news throughout the previous decade, such as $400 screwdrivers, huge airports in the middle of nowhere, etc. But the biggest concern is “welfare“, which was about 2-4% of the spending! The majority going to the military, which the same conservatives were in favor of).

In some radical Right Christian paper from upstate, I see a retelling of Aesop’s fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper”:

The Original Version:

The ant busts his ass in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

The New Liberal Version:

It starts out the same but when winter comes the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving. CBS, NBC, and ABC show up and show pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to film of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can it be, in a country of such wealth that this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so? Then a representative of the NAAGB (The National Association of Green Bugs) shows up on Night Line and charges the ant with “Green Bias” and makes the case that the grasshopper is the victim of 30 million years of greenism. Kermit the frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when he sings “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”

Bill and Hillary Clinton make a special guest appearance on the CBS evening news and tell a concerned Dan Rather That they will do everything they can for the grasshopper who has been denied the prosperity he deserves by those who benefited unfairly during the summer, or as Bill refers to it, the “Temperatures Of The 80’s”.

Finally the EEOC drafts the “Economic Equity and Anti-Greenism Act” RECTRO-ACTIVE to the beginning of the summer. The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and having nothing left to pay his Retro-Active taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant’s food while the government house he’s in….which just happens to be the ant’s old house…. crumbles around him since he doesn’t know how to maintain it. The ant has disappeared in the snow. And on the TV; which the grasshopper bought by selling most of the ant’s food, Bill Clinton is standing before a wildly applauding group of Democrats announcing that a new era of “Fairness” has dawned in America.

There was no source attributed to it.
Ten years later, I see the same thing pasted in a discussion on a Christian board I frequented, only with “NAAGB” replaced by “ACORN” (and, IIRC, a couple of other small changes). It seemed people realized “NAAGB” was too “obvious”, and so tried to cover up the implications a bit more. Meanwhile, all the tax complaining had actually been heard, and something was actually for once done; some changes had actually been made! Welfare had by that time been replaced by “workfare” (where recipients had to get little menial jobs to be eligible for the benefits), and at the same time, tax breaks began to be given to the middle class (making it look like “welfare” really was the problem after all), and this did quell the conservatives’ complaining for a bit, but around the 2004 election, it quickly resumed, as if nothing had changed at all! (This is the one where they were so disgusted with the Republican party as not conservative enough, that the radical Constitution Party was all the rage!)
So a decade after that, liberals are finally beginning to rise up and respond more to conservative rhetoric (after the deafening silence I witnessed at the time of the original meme and decades before), including naming things, and the common conservative tactic of using “code language” to imply blacks as the cause of the nation’s problems, has been dubbed “dog whistling”. Only, “NAAGB”, wasn’t really even a dog whistle, but I’d say, pretty audible!

Forward to recent years, the source of the meme is revealed to be Jim Quinn of the radio show “The Warroom”, and who was a close associate to the main conservative mouthpiece of the generation, Rush Limbaugh; —himself a master dog whistler, who then tries to gaslight us all by portraying himself as basically more of a “comedian”. One radio ad on TV had him with a smile, ask “You decide whether I’m ‘the most dangerous man in America’, or ‘just a sensitive guy’“! Yet, he’s always taking the clear conservative talking points, deemed deadly serious when pitched by others, including on the race issue. His followers then become what were dubbed “dittoheads“, as they all ate up and agreed with all of it! The most infamous statement on the subject, being addressing blacks, and saying “THEY’RE ANGRY…!” This, to a white fanbase that already thinks we’re fearsome animals! Meanwhile, look at the anger and utter CONTEMPT and even hatred on his own face right as he’s saying this (or ANY time he addresses the race issue. It BEGS the question “What the hell did we ever do to you?” Rudolph Giuliani, the NYC mayor who dismissed us with “They’re alive, aren’t they?” and claimed Amadou Diallo brought on his own death by “not doing what the officers said”; —and they were plain clothes and jumped out at him, mind you— had this same sort of hostile look on his face when addressing race as well!)

So “anger” is pitched like it’s wrong; but that is, when we’re doing it. It’s actually OK and perfectly justified, when you do it! —being angry about our anger! Why? Because it’s all part of a plot to take something away from you, as you claim was already being done! The same with incessantly leveling terms such as “whining” during that time, when conservatives have been the loudest and most effective complainers; claiming to be no less than “persecuted”, often!

In other words, only you have the RIGHT to be angry; others don’t. We’re told we should only be “thankful”. (But the conservatives certainly don’t sound thankful, except for some past ideal they are steady complaining of losing! And these people would fiercely deny thinking they were “superior”, but then what do you call this?) We do end up managing to elect a black president, and when his first lady mentions now being able to be “proud” of America, she’s excoriated as “anti-America”. But Rush then shortly after goes the opposite direction, in saying he’s no longer proud of the nation, and this is basically the sentiment of all his followers! She goes from “not proud” to “proud” (positive direction). He goes from “proud” to “not proud” (negative). But she’s “Anti-America”, and he’s “pro-America”! Conservatives often spoke as if to be critical of America is to “hate” America, but both of these speakers have periods where they were not proud of it. One was in the past, with all the racial conflict and other issues (involving oppressive control by one demographic). The other was the loosening of that control. America was only “good” (and worth being proud of) in the past, up until the 1960s. This is what the Christian Right had been saying ever since that decade! “Make America Great Again” (MAGA), we associate with the next president, Trump, but he only half-heartedly copied the line (didn’t even sound genuine when he first uttered it; it sounded like he was just spouting something he knew his listeners wanted to hear); it was Reagan and the Christian Right who had been saying this (and similar lines, such as “take back America”) up to four decades before!

Today, the focus of the left’s criticism of the right is Tucker Carlson and Marjorie Taylor-Greene. Previously, it was Donald Trump (of course; him being the president, and fully embodying the mindet of the right), and FOX News hosts such as Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck. Limbaugh had all along been the central figure of the conservative media, until beginning to wane in the decade or so before his death last year (and I feel he could have stood more criticism by the Left!) But Quinn is someone who deserves more exposure; being such a “behind the scenes” source of a meme that perfectly embodies the Right’s beliefs about the race issue, and what drives all of their rhetoric and behavior today, from “Great Replacement Theory” to the Jan. 6 2021 insurrection attempt (which both Limbaugh [in his last two months of life] and Quinn seemed to be rather silent on!)

Liberal writers such as Tim Wise and Ian Haney Lopez began speaking in terms of “narratives“; that the conservatives had created narratives they drive their views off of, and liberals needed to create narratives as well, to counter them.

So the conservative narrative (put together):

•We did the blacks a favor by rescuing them from their tribal life and bringing them into our “exceptional” advanced civilization
•They were really well off and happy under slavery and segregation. (We did so well in creating this “exceptional” society!)
•The “godless” white Marxists wanted to destroy the nation, and so decided to “use” the blacks in their scheme
•They took all the money of the hard working “makers” and gave it to the undeserving black “takers”, who no matter how many opportunities and good things they had here, only wanted more “free stuff” and refused to pull themselves up like others.
•This created all the urban decay, crime and financial scarcity of the late 20th century, as the makers withdrew their wealth and jobs.
-i.e. all those horrible violent cities like Chicago were run by “northern Democrats”.
-(The “makers” deserve all the billions they have [stop ‘coveting’, you liberal snowflakes!], but the government has taken it and given it all to the blacks, who have squandered it; so now everyone struggles!)
•So don’t call us racist; we’re actually looking out for the blacks and know what’s best for them; it’s the liberals who did all of this, and are the real racists!
-(The “colorblind” tactic. But it always points right back to colorism, as the blacks were too stupid and greedy for “free stuff” to avoid getting caught in this liberal scheme. The “alt-right” will then conveniently step in to fill in the blank; the problem is really genetic! The “dog whistle” becomes a giant foghorn, and the mainstream conservatives relievedly didn’t have to blow it!)

This is what has been cleverly summed up by Quinn’s “Ant and Grasshopper” story! It’s what they have been telling an already “angry white middle class” that had already long blamed minorities and their issues for the downfall of the country, since the Civil War; all the while the billionaires skate off scott free as the middle class “punch downward” in blaming the poor. (And the financial aspect of it, where the rich benefitting from the status quo get the middle class to look down on the blacks, was the name of the game since slavery as well!)
They also manage to get even black figures to agree with this stuff. Allan West once posted a video spoofing the stereotypical “welfare queen”, which boldly proclaimed “This is where ALL the money goes!”. Larry Elder similarly once had a video claiming that these “handouts” “brought the country to its knees”. The “angry white middle class” continued to eat it all up.
(The likes of these two are just making money for themselves by attacking their own race, and along with the entire Right, are just serving the interests of the super rich by portraying them as “overtaxed” for the sake of the lazy poor, when they in fact already have many loopholes and bypasses where some of them in actuality pay almost no taxes. But this isn’t enough! So keep blaming poor minorities! Keep telling the angry middle class that this is the source of all their problems! No wonder, many of them would justify police shootings of blacks, and fall to such desperation as to elect Donald Trump as president, have rallies such as at Charlottesville, and then attempt an actual overthrow of the US Capitol, and individuals holding these views continue to produce mass shootings).

Questions this raises:
•WHERE is all the money given the blacks, then, since they don’t still have it themselves; hence being “stuck” in poverty and government “dependency” where they need more? If they’re wasting it on expensive sneakers and electronics and such, even if they don’t maintain these things, they just go and get more, putting the money back into the economy. (It’s never seen this way!) They’re not the ones sitting on it, or taking it out of the country like the rich. Oh, but then they’re only doing that because of the oppressive tax system! That still doesn’t change the fact of who has the money; aside from the question of who “deserved” it or not!
Do the rich have all their deserved money, or has it been taken from them too? If they’re the productive “ants”, then all of the ants are portrayed as falling in the end. The meme doesn’t have any characters escaping this unscathed in the end (except perhaps the “Democrat” leaders). If you admit they’ve simply taken it elsewhere because of taxes spent on the ‘unproductive’, then why do we accept them (the “Queen Ants”, basically)
punishing all of us because of what some others do?

The real source of this narrative is the old Puritan-derived notion of the “chosen nation”. That’s what drove the colonizers and slavers. Here is their line of reasoning.

•The World is a mess
•There is inequality; some people (including cultures) are on top
•God is in control
•Therefore, God must have placed those on top in that position
•[appeal to the Fall or even nature, then start over]

When these institutions were challenged and brought down, the people losing power, instead of realizing the systems of control handed down to them were wrong, then had to justify them. They began speaking of the “godly founding” of the nation, and that all problems were “ungodly” people, not only bringing down Christian “morality”, but also forcing the inferior subhuman race on them as “equals”; bringing it down even faster. And this is what passed down all the way to the present, with more and more code and innuendo piled on top of it as each layer of racism was stripped away (i.e. first, slavery, then Jim Crow, then poverty, now “institutional” racism, etc.) and more and more racist expressions became censored.
Rather than a “northern Democrat” plot to use blacks to destroy the nation; the most obvious cause of all the urban decay was “white flight” (which occurred in the South as well!); where because blacks could no longer be isolated from them, they ran (citing “lowering proprty vaues”, in addition to “rising crime”), yet still owned the property, which they allowed to run down, and often abandon. Services and most importantly, education were cut, rather than the “Democrats” pumping all of this money into the urban minority communities and they letting it decay, as Quinn’s story insinuates. This was just patently ignored; so as much as the blacks were the ones suffering all that blight and crime of those cities, conservatives callously fit this into their phony “colorblind” narrative against the blacks via the liberals!

Just think; fathers had told their sons “When you grow up, all of this will be yours”, but by the time they did grow up, large chunks of the power had been taken, and they were increasingly demanded to share what was left. So instead of realizing their fathers promised them something ill gained, and which couldn’t be kept, they blamed the forces making them share, as well as the recipients. This is why they began praising the nation’s past, and demanding it be given “back” to them.

This is the basis of Quinn’s “Grasshopper” story. It is one of the most insidious, boldface, hardly attempted to be disguised attacks on blacks, painting us as both stupid (can’t maintain all the stuff we’ve “taken”) on top of destroying the entire society. (Even if one tries the “colorblind” deflection and claim the “takers” are really anyone of any race, gaming the system. But all the “green bugs” references make it clear it is about color; you’re still using color; just substituting a different one! —But I guess we’re supposed to be too stupid to see right through that; right? “ACORN” did little better in covering it up!)
This is why I would focus on this one person here. It is not even a feeble attempt at covering up the racial blaming. This man has been a classic “snake”; lying in the background supplying propaganda like this, as his friend Rush and others get the spotlight. (And yet, they’re the ones who fire back at “the race card” being played on them!) You can easily see it borne of the same seething anger that appeared on Rush’s face whenever talking about race. You despise these people so much; all you want to do is sling muck and blame at them, and can barely hide it. People like this and their clever rhetorical tactics need to be exposed more.

Quinn was once supposedy a liberal, but then got in trouble for some remark he made on his show about women, and then turned to conservativism in revolt. Today, on his website https://www.warroom.com the first things you see is a section, “Worth dying for”, with links to the texts of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. Of course, to show that they are the “true” Americans, but we see how quickly on this “wing” of politics that loyalty goes right out the window when they don’t get everything they want. Starting with Trump, liberals are the ones who have been defending the Constitution more against the antics of him and his followers! (Of course, each side interprets it in their own ways).

You would think the “Grasshopper” story would be some past embarrassment hidden, and maybe even disowned now (after first trying to change “NAAGB” into “ACORN”). When you click on “about us”, you see first, a restricted Youtube imbed about D-Day, and then three article links, and look; the middle one is the Ant and the Grasshopper! And not only that, but the original version, with the “NAAGB”!
(And elsewhere, there’s a meme that goes something like “My show is still on the air; deal with it!”. Liberals’ tactics had been what’s now dubbed as “cancel culture”; just banishing the person, and this has only played right into their narrative that the liberals are the true oppressors, and the conservatives are only valiantly standing up for “freedom”).

This is still the way these people believe (and wrapped up in the cause of the “Constitution”), and this sort of subtle, partially hidden source material to Right Wing mindsets needs to be recognized as a big source of the rest of the Right’s belief systems. And pundits on both sides are pointing out how divided the nation has become, and we seem to be headed to a new Civil War. It’s rhetoric like this that is keeping the racial resentment going. It’s recent events that all are what kept reminding me of Quinn’s meme! But conservatives will counter; no, it’s the incessant “race baiting” for the purpose of getting “free stuff” (and the liberals using this to “buy votes”) that is causing these tensions —thus yet again reiterating the classic (and untrue) racist stereotype, and all the more proving my point!
“Grasshopper”-like narratives are just a tactic of deflection, so that those riding off into the sunset with all of the wealth and power will have us too busy fighting each other to see what they are doing; if not outright justifying them (as “deserving” it), as they continue to blame the other side, including those with less power than them. It plays upon racial resentment, from the “equality” that had to be forced on them for nearly 200 years. This is why these things must be called out and challenged, wherever and in whatever form they are seen!

(Here, BTW, is another side of the story. https://www.amazon.com/Grasshopper-Narrated-Fanciful-Truthful-Other/dp/1515828727 Haven’t read the whole thing, but it right away looks like it applies!)

From → Politics

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: