WINGNUTS: How the Lunatic Fringe is Highjacking America, by John Avalon

I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did.  See the photos on the cover?  Glen Beck and Sarah Palin, and Keith Olbermann???  Beck and Palin are wingnuts, of course, but Olbermann?  I used to watch his show when it was on MSNBC, and enjoyed it, too.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this book is not saying that there are equal numbers of wingnuts on the far right and the far left, or even that they are equally dangerous.  Only that they exist.  And yeah, Olbermann was fired for going too far.  Too much into ad hominem attacks and not enough substance.

The thesis of the book is that we need to take our country back from the lunatic fringes and get close enough to the middle to where compromise or at least dialogue is possible.  Since I’ve been noticing that myself lately, although blaming it mostly on the far right fringe, I admitted that I’ve been ignoring the far left fringe simply because they have so little power.  It’s the violence that makes the far right so noticeable, and the left long ago realized that they can’t win that fight.

But noticeable is not the only issue.  What influence do the nuts have?  To what extent do they muddy the water, confuse the young and uneducated, use manipulative techniques to get their own way, much like the mean girls on the play ground?

Because ultimately, mature discussion and adult decision-making takes place closer to the center.  If the center-left and the center-right can get together on at least a few issues, perhaps we can drown out the voices of the wingnuts and set our country back on track.  Let’s try, shall we?

Statements in this review do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.