Sunday, January 16, 2011

How to create a climate of hate

Frank Rich weighs in on the effect of hate speech on crazy people and notes that Gabrielle Gifford's prescient interview with Chuck Todd was ignored at the time and hasn't been understood in context in the aftermath of her shooting. Rich recalls the atmosphere that surrounded the creation of Palin's crosshairs map and her companion tweet to "reload." He goes on to say:
Have politicians stoked the pre-Loughner violence by advocating that citizens pursue “Second Amendment remedies” or be “armed and dangerous”? We don’t know. What’s more disturbing is what Republican and conservative leaders have not said. Their continuing silence during two years of simmering violence has been chilling.
Well I spent the last few hours reviewing the archives and they had plenty to say in that week. Watching the GOPers rally the Tea Party protesters with outright lies on the steps of the Capitol was still just as horrifying as it was in the moment. The repeated claims of a government takeover of health care. Michele Bachmann's claims that she kept upping to the point where she claimed 100% of of our economy was private before Obama became president and he had already taken over 51% of it with a tyrannical power grab. And the featuring of far right opinion makers like Mark Levin to issue dire warnings about the loss of freedom.

Then came the actual vote the next day where the Republicans incited the protesters from the balcony of the Capitol. They waved signs saying "Kill the Bill" but most notable was Iowa GOPer Steve King holding up a Pelosi poster and really played to the angry mob:
He first gave a "thumbs down" sign. Then, King wiped his hand across her face. That was followed by a slapping motion in front of Pelosi's picture. [Truncated video here]
This is the same Rep. Steve King who later suggested that the guy who flew a plane into an IRS building in Austin was essentially justified. Meanwhile, inside the chambers, the Republicans cheered drunken hecklers who were disrupting the proceedings. In the days that followed, there were many calls for violence and incidents of vandalism. The leading voices of the far right made excuses, as did their media arm and their internet apologists.

And just as in the wake of the assassination attempt on Rep. Giffords, the Tucson Tea Party chair blamed her for the shooting, back then the Republicans countered claims that were fomenting violence by claiming it was the Democrats talking about the GOP's irresponsible rhetoric that was actually the cause.

Even if we'll never be able to draw a straight line between any one of these instances, and these are just from one week, it's difficult to argue that the cumulative effect of this sort of rhetoric over months on end didn't create a climate of hate in which violent ideation thrives. Nonetheless, that's exactly what I expect them to do.

The far right is one trick pony. They've followed Hannah Giles advice for years. "Attack. Attack. Attack. Never defend." Sadly, considering their current response to the tragedy in Tucson, it appears they don't feel the need to learn a new one. Which doesn't bode well for any kind of new honesty in DC. If a the massacre in Tucson didn't shake them into introspection or engender even a modicum of self-awareness, there is little hope anything will.

[Thanks Mike]

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share


Anonymous ian said...

Whether Loughner was inspired to his shooting spree by the climate of hate promoted by the Republicans during the campaign is debatable and certainly should be looked into, but what is not debatable is the fact that Loughner's shooting spree is the reality of the "second amendment remedies" which they claimed to advocate. This is what they said they wanted, what they riled their base up with. If you wade into the fetid swamp of the rightwing blogosphere you will find dozens of Loughner wannabes fantasizing about how they would take out liberals and Democrats, (oh, but do it much better than Loughner, more accurately, one shot, one kill) and no one is calling them out on it.

9:16:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

"and no one is calling them out on it."

I hope we are at least, but very well said. Irresponsible language is not only coming from the land of blogs, but from the billion dollar corporate owned media as well - because it sells - and somehow we need to rub their corporate noses in it.

9:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Plan 9 said...

Ignoring the argument of what causes what (which honestly, we cannot win), we look to our leaders for level-headed voices of reason. Our leaders should be smarter than us, unflappable, calm, and the source of solutions. When the bigotry, anger and riots begin to swell up, they should be the voice of calm and assurance. I can count politicians that fit that description on one hand.

10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Causation is a different argument from the cumulative effect of dishonest and destructive discourse. Thinking there's a good argument to be made that many of our politicians are the root cause of that. The corporate media is certainly culpable but they amplify it more than generate it.

10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I'm not sure I agree.

Obama's positive ratings improved noticeably after his speech. I wonder how much of it was the calm, reassuring, compassionate voice and how much was the fact that Roger Ailes told the little foxes to tone it down for a day or so. Sometimes the media is like those dust particles that cause rain droplets to form when otherwise it would be too dry.

It's interesting though, that Maid Malkin, having nothing really substantive to say and having been cautioned to play down the call to violence, still managed to pull that moldy old "but I have to question his timing" piece of carrion out and air it.

That's what they said about Clarke, as you'll recall, after he revealed that Bush had shut down the anti-terrorism squad as soon as he entered office.

I guess he should have waited a few years and Obama should have waited for Gingrich and Limbaugh and of course Michelle had their say. Shows he's a Kenyan Kommunist for sure.

10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I see your point Fogg and don't disagree. Just thinking that Fox mainly serves to promote the GOP talking points. Although they do embellish them I suppose, seems to me they all take their marching orders from Luntz.

I'd also note that the Wingnutosphere has lost a lot of influence since Leftopia stopped parsing their every insane utterance. Not that they've lost all of it, Erick son of Erick on CNN for instance, but you look at Memeorandum and they're mostly just linking to each other and they capture the cycle like they used to. I could be wrong since I don't really read them anymore, but it feels like their circle of true believers is shrinking.

11:16:00 AM  
Blogger DavidEhrenstein said...

Of course he was inspired by Sarah Palin. But the media is far too invested in publicizing her to so much as dare to mention it.

11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

As I've been saying it's hard to draw a straight line between any one thing or person and the massacre unless the shooter specifically makes the connection himself. But surely she's had a big effect on the general toxicity and think you're right that the media has too much invested in her to make her a villian.

1:18:00 PM  
Blogger Green Eagle said...

The history of terrorist violence, since at least Russian Nihilism in the nineteenth century, has been that public agitators incite violence, which eventually induces (generally mentally unbalanced) people to take them at their word and perpetrate violent acts, at which point the agitators deny any connection to the terrorism and escape Scot free to continue their incitement. We've seen this with the IRA, the creators of "leaderless revolution," and the PLO, and are now seeing it throughout the middle east, where numerous groups have acted on the program of Al Qaida without any direct connection to its leaders.

This is exactly what we are seeing among right wingers in this country today. It is classic terrorism, and the Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins of this world are as responsible for it as Osama Bin Laden, Yasir Arafat or Gerry Adams are for the violence carried out in their names.

2:10:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Hey Green Eagle. Don't think that people like Palin or Beck think it through to the point of wanting to incite violence. They're too narcisstic to see past their own benefit from throwing out incendiary rhetoric for ratings. Not surprising though that even with such graphic evidence of their toxicity that they continue to deny any responsibility.

3:51:00 PM  
Blogger Green Eagle said...

I'm not sure that Charlie Manson really thought through the whole Helter Skelter thing, either. That didn't make him any less guilty.

Not thinking through the consequences of your actions is not really an excuse.

4:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:39:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I agree with you Eagle. The hate is always there, but the people who exploit it have the power to focus it to their advantage without getting too much blood on their hands. Most of the haters wouldn't know who the devil du jour was unless told.

9:15:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I think the difference between Manson and opportunists like Palin and Beck is Manson was really crazy and he actually directed the violence. Pretty easy to draw a straight line on that. But I do agree that whatever their motives, the Palins and Becks of the world shouldn't get a pass for polluting the discourse and creating the environment that breeds craziness.

10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

It's getting to the point where even such folks as David Frum think she should take the opportunity to shut up; that the air is so full of paranoid delusion and misinformation that it's impossible to level valid criticism at the government and be noticed.

Legitimate conservatives may be getting tired of having to put on a clown suit to be heard over the roar of demented idiocy.

11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Green Eagle said...

"Legitimate conservatives"...

The last time one of those was spotted was during the Eisenhower administration.

3:51:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

LOL Green Eagle.

5:57:00 PM  
Blogger Green Eagle said...

Just curious, Anonymous...when you say "the uneducated moron who bloviates the most." who exactly are you referring to?

8:28:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Sorry to interupt Green Eagle. My little anon stalker is on the delete list. You can assume he was talking about me.

8:41:00 PM  
Blogger Green Eagle said...

I've been troubled lately also with a commenter who calls himself "anonymous" and who answers my comments with comparisons of Obama to Hitler and things like that. I just wondered if it was the same person.

10:39:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I think it is. A very narcissistic, very sorry for himself, very angry man with a deep sense of humiliation and the attendant delusion of importance who, since no one helped him, thinks anyone else who needs help is a lazy malingerer who doesn't deserve it.

He demands respect and gives none, thinks he has qualifications to expound on any subject, to regurgitate his pre-packaged prejudices and calumnies and sorry propaganda about insurance reform and public education without contradiction. He insists that anyone who knows more is an "elitist" and anyone who doesn't make his little salary is a loser. He doesn't see the irony. He thinks I'm plotting to kill him. He has no sense of humor.

On such men are founded terrible things and if he talks about Hitler, it's creepier than you may realize.

9:35:00 AM  
Blogger Green Eagle said...

Well, thanks for that, Captain.

I just wish that there were only one of them, instead of a quarter of the electorate.

2:56:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home