Monday, January 10, 2011


I like Tom Knighton's columns and typically look at them first on the editorial page of The Albany Journal. Tom disagrees with my post below on right wing rhetoric inciting threats and violence up to and including murder. The usual response of the right wing when caught in some abysmal behavior- usually corruption, but in this case, over the top comments akin to shouting "kill the *?!@##" when standing at the back of a potential lynch mob, is to say "yeah, but the other side does it, too." And the main stream media always buys it, in their heroic efforts to appear "fair and balanced," even when to do so make them wildly unbalanced and extremely unfair.

It's as if a reporter walks up to a man lying in a pool of blood in an alley, almost senseless, with a much larger man standing over him with a baseball bat in one hand and the victim's wallet in other hand, counting the crash and going through the credit cards. The reporter asks the guy on the ground, "so what happened?" They guy says, "he mugged me, dragged me here, then stole my wallet." The mugger turns and says- yeah but he's just as bad." Next day, story runs in paper: "Two men fight in alley."

Congresswoman Giffords and the six dead were victims of far worse than a mugging. Sarah Palin didn't put out a list of Democrats to target for defeat. She sent out a poster with rifle cross hairs over the Congresswoman's district in Arizona, along with 19 others similarly targeted, and she put the Congresswoman's name on the poster. That's a mind set far, far beyond the "we want to defeat our opponents because we disagree with their policy proposals."

The other examples I cited in my column were people who literally committed murder or attempted to commit murder, and who were inspired by a constant right wing attack machine which spews forth lies and hate. For example: the myth that President Obama was going to take away their guns didn't just incite the murders noted in the column; it also spawned an incredible run on guns and ammunition shortly after the 2008 election. Has any of that rhetoric been matched by reality, even in the slightest? Not for a moment. There hasn't been an overt public reaction to the anticipated future acts of a newly elected president to match this since the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

In response to Mr. Knighton's comment that I view events through ideological glasses- I don't. If I did, I would not be aware of and frequently criticize the spectacular shortcomings of the spineless crapweasels that Democrats have managed to elect to and put in charge of Congress and the White House.

But the recent violence inspiring rhetoric has come from particular sources. They are prominent nationally (unlike the obscure groups that Mr. Knighton claims are the left-wing equivalent), they are echoed by the highest national leadership (see the John Boehner quotes below which spawned death threats against a fellow Congressman), and they aren't shy about leaving public footprints- because there are no consequences, even when specific threats and acts of violence are linked to specific incitement. I doubt that Sarah Palin will be hauled on the carpet at FOX News or in the other media forums which publish her opinions (Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today to name three- ironically, she could not name any of those papers- or any others, for that matter- in 2008 when Katie Couric asked her what newspapers were her sources of infomration) to defend her rifle target poster aimed at Congresswoman Giffords.

Mr. Knighton might want to explain why death threats against President Obama are exponentially higher than they were against his predecessor, even with the incredible antipathy inspired by Mr. Bush.

He might want to explain how the acts of murder of human beings (not someone throwing paint somewhere or spiking a tree) can be directly traced in many instances I cited in my column to specific rhetoric by specific nationally prominent Republicans and their right wing media attack machines on LImbaugh and Fox news.

Here's one more example, the Boehner quote and aftermath, not in my original column, quoted from Digby's blog (see end for link):

"Another Ohio Democrat, Steve Driehaus, clashed repeatedly with Boehner before losing his seat in the midterm elections. After Boehner suggested that by voting for Obamacare, Driehaus "may be a dead man" and "can't go home to the west side of Cincinnati" because "the Catholics will run him out of town," Driehaus began receiving death threats, and a right-wing website published directions to his house. Driehaus says he approached Boehner on the floor and confronted him.

"I didn't think it was funny at all," Driehaus says. "I've got three little kids and a wife. I said to him, 'John, this is bullshit, and way out of bounds. For you to say something like that is wildly irresponsible.'"

Driehaus is quick to point out that he doesn't think Boehner meant to urge anyone to violence. "But it's not about what he intended — it's about how the least rational person in my district takes it. We run into some crazy people in this line of work."

Driehaus says Boehner was "taken aback" when confronted on the floor, but never actually said he was sorry: "He said something along the lines of, 'You know that's not what I meant.' But he didn't apologize." "

And the granddaddy of Republican hate speech was ignited by Newt Gingrich, who, in 1994, had his political action committee, GOPAC, issue a memorandum which Mr. Gingrich sent to aspiring Republican candidates. It was titled "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control."

Here are excerpts from the memo in which he provided sample adjectives that Republicans should utilize in describing their opponents- regardless of reality or truth:

"These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party... destructive... sick... pathetic... lie... betray... threaten... devour... bizarre... cheat... traitors...."

That memo defines the bright line difference between the modern day Republican Party and its origins under Lincoln. The national Republican Party has become the party of hate and divisiveness. Non-Christians, gays, immigrants, Muslims, liberals-- you name the group, and Republicans' campaigns have exploited and incited hatred and fear of them.

And the Democrats are spineless for failing to respond to these attacks.


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