Our friends in Berkeley have managed to embarrass themselves and the UC system by continuing to employ as a professor of law John Yoo, who as a member of the Office of Legal Counsel advocated a legal theory that gave President Bush the power to wiretap without a warrant and indefinitely detain and torture any person he wished. UCSB has yet to hire anyone threatened with prosecution for their crimes against humanity, but the College Republicans have done their best to ensure that such poor excuses for human beings make their presence known on campus. In 2008 they invited David Horowitz, a fanatically anti-Muslim activist with nightmares about “liberal indoctrination” in universities, to speak following his rabidly prejudiced ad campaign that ran in the Daily Nexus. He ended up calling a Muslim student’s keffiyeh a “terrorist’s headscarf.” This Thursday our campus will again play host to a vile icon of the right, someone perhaps not as unhinged as Horowitz but no less of a monster: Karl Rove.
The damage Karl Rove has done to this country stems from his long association with George W. Bush. There is little need to remind everyone of the accomplishments achieved by the worst president ever to lead this country. From Iraq to Katrina to the collapse of the economy, the destruction wrought by Bush in the last decade affected almost all Americans. But Bush did not become president arbitrarily. He had to win two elections, in 2000 and 2004, to have the power required to wreak such havoc, and behind those two campaigns that bitterly divided the country into “red states” and “blue states” was the turd blossom himself, Karl Rove. Rove’s 50+1 strategy to achieve the bare minimum necessary to win the elections through a combination of wedge issues, outright lying in negative campaigning and voter suppression both exploited and perpetuated a political atmosphere of fear and paranoia that is infamously remembered. In 2000, there was the push poll in the South Carolina Republican Primary that all but stated that John McCain had a black child. In 2004, coordinated efforts to ban gay marriage in states across the country drove millions of evangelicals to the polls that November. This ruthless exploitation of racial and homophobic politics is the electoral legacy Rove left behind on his way to power, an appeal to the very worst of America.
Rove didn’t rest once his boss was in power. As chair of the White House Iraq Group, Rove was responsible for selling to the public the invasion of Iraq, painting a war that was unnecessary and unjust as vital to American security. Once again, Rove relied on fear to motivate the American public, scaring them with the completely false idea that Iraq threatened the United States with nuclear destruction. Who can forget Condoleezza Rice’s words that “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”?
Rove’s role as propaganda minister cost the lives of thousands of Americans and as many as a million Iraqis. But fear is an emotion on the wane in this country. Rove can say what he pleases when visits us this week, but we all know the power of his words has long ago faded.