Sunday, January 09, 2011

The rhetoric of violence - "Nothing better than a dead liberal"

After a political season marked by the rhetoric of violence, why is anyone surprised that we see violence?

I filmed this in 2009 at a local "tea party" protest in Michigan. At the time I found the casualness with which this woman started chanting "Nothing better than a dead liberal!" and the nonplussed reaction of the other protesters around her, chilling.

This was after we had already seen politically motivated assassination attempts against liberals, like Jim D Attkinson in 2008. In the killer's home they found books by right-wing provocateurs like Michael Savage, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly.

Tea Party darling Sarah Palin recently put a target on Rep. Gifford's head and told her followers to "reload".

The shooting yesterday took place in Arizona, right next door to Nevada, where just a few months ago Sharon Angle proposed "second amendment remedies" to her "Harry Reid problem".

Not to mention all the rhetoric of the Bush era where people like Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity called liberals "traitors" for not supporting the president, called for the death sentence for liberals and said that liberals should be "physically intimidated" and reminded that we can be killed.

Yes, obviously the shooter was insane. Isn't that a given? But does that excuse everyone in the public sphere from all responsibility for what influence they may have had on sick minds like that within the public?

That kind of rhetoric in the public sphere has real consequences.

As we are seeing for what seems like the millionth time.

And once again we see those who espouse the ideology of "personal responsibility" refusing to take ANY responsibility for their own use of violent rhetoric. For now, the Radical Right is feigning surprise and sympathy for the victims but they will be back out fomenting anti-liberal, anti-Democratic hate and violence again Monday morning.

The best way for the center/left to fight against this is to shine a huge spotlight on those doing it and expose the hate mongers for what they are. Shine a light the real effects their violent rhetoric has on society. Shine a light on the mindset that spawns these people who mistakenly think they have "second amendment remedies" to their electoral losses in a civil democratic society.