The hyperbolic are not inclined to hide their lights under a bushel basket.

So thank goodness for the glaring brightness of Facebook and all the rest.

Without these universal bathroom stalls, how would we know, in real time, that our pithy observations are those of a genius, or that we’ve verged into personal and institutional embarrassment?

It’s the latter that brings me to state Rep. Brenda Barton. She’s the latest in a steady stream of Arizona elected officials and wanna-be-elected-officials who have taken to the Internet to highlight their own special brands of insight. Barton calls National Park Service rangers “thugs” who are carrying out “the order of Der Fuhrer.”

Then she asks: “Where are our Constitutional Sheriffs who can revoke the Park Service Rangers authority to arrest??? Do we have any Sheriffs with a pair?”

(I am hoping that last question was rhetorical.)

Comparing President Obama to Hitler is by now a golden oldie. Nazi references are so last week.

To be fair, I should mention that Barton sent out a press release yesterday explaining she was not saying Obama is Hitler. She writes: “What I did suggest, rather directly, was that the National Park Service enforcement personnel (referring to them as ‘thugs’ for their reported behavior) were simply following orders of ‘their leader’ – and I used the German phrase for emphasis, Der Fuhrer. I am referencing the Presidents behavior as indicated by his actions. The Merriam-Webster New Collegiate Dictionary defines ‘Fuhrer’ as ‘(2) a leader exercising tyrannical authority.’

Using the German word that is universally associated with Hitler, the German tyrant, was not intended to bring to mind Hitler, the German tyrant. Uh-huh.

Barton is rooted on by posters on her Facebook page, urging her to stay strong, fight, make Arizona proud. Yadda yadda.

Then this:

“We’re proud of you, Brenda. We The People must escalate until our liberty is secure.” That’s from Ernest Huber, a would-be politician from Washington state. He ran for Congress as a Republican in 2012, and lost in the primary.

It didn’t take long to find what Huber means by “escalate.” From his Facebook page, posted this week: “The primary goal in one sentence: We The People must do whatever is within our individual opportunities, abilities, courage, aggressiveness, and faith to secure our God-given unalienable rights, and preserve our Constitutional Republic by any means necessary, beginning by the enforcement of our US Criminal Code through the immediate arrests, neutralization, imprisonment, trial, conviction and sentencing of the enemy Obama and thousands of his insurgents, while simultaneously maintaining a strong national defense and continuity of government.”

Rah-rah support, talk of a bloody civil war, never doubting one’s righteousness and lots of references to the “enemy” is rife on these threads. No surprise there.

The key to fiction is the willing suspension of disbelief that allows a particular set of unrealistic circumstances to operate within a constructed framework. It allows the creation of an alternate reality that is boosted by supposition, interpreted webs of conspiracy and the very human need for positive reinforcement.

We all seek out that which gives us something we need, that brings us comfort. Some find it in macaroni and cheese, and others find it in role-playing and showing how tough they are by playing Soldier of Fortune or suiting up and stalking through the desert on civilian “patrols.”

Every person seeks, in one way or another, what she is missing. A sense of fulfillment, a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. In a positive sense that enemy can be poverty, child abuse, hunger — entrenched, shared problems that demand a shared response to undo.

But that concept of “enemy” devolves into those who don’t think, look, believe or act the right way. The sense of superiority in all ways that matter — perception, intelligence, survival. It’s the self-aggrandizing nature of human insecurity. This is the province of Barton, Huber and company.

A person’s declaration of an enemy doesn’t touch the person being vilified. The transaction at work isn’t concerned with the object of unaffection — it’s about the energy spent by the person who needs the enemy to exist.


What do you need?

Sarah Garrecht Gassen writes opinion for the Arizona Daily Star. Email her at and follow her on Facebook.