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The right wing isn’t going to stop violent rhetoric

2011 January 10
by Ian Welsh

In light of the attempted murder of Representative Giffords, in which others did die, many on the left have been saying that Republicans need to stop violent rhetoric, because some people take it seriously.  Crazies in some cases. (Note that it’s not clear that Loughner was necessarily one of them, mind you.)

But let’s assume the constant atmosphere of violent rhetoric did have some effect.  Why would the right stop it?  The press I’m reading and seeing is mostly of the “pox on both sides violent rhetoric” variety.   Yes, Palin is running from her crosshairs, but at the end of the day she was never viable and the people who support her, which is to say, give her money, aren’t going to stop doing so.  They’ll believe he was “just a crazy” or that Jared Loughner was really a left winger, of whatever it takes to believe it had nothing to do with her: or with them.  Two months from now this won’t be shown to have moved the needle on the polls, and it won’t have destroyed the career of anyone who mattered.

Moreover, the fact is that violence often does work.  For example, when Doctor Tiller, one of only three late term abortion providers in the entire country, was killed, his family chose to shut down his clinic.  His assassin got what he wanted, and said he was perfectly happy to go to jail.  And why not?  If you believe that Dr. Tiller was a mass murderer, then killing him is just.

As long as politicians who aren’t Republicans (I won’t say left wingers, Giffords isn’t particularly left wing) are constantly called traitors, some people will take that seriously.  And if they are traitors, well, they deserve death, don’t they?

Right wing talk of violence is acceptable in American society.  And it will continue because violence and the threat of violence works in American society.

Now let’s be clear, one reason it works is because politicians have, in fact, repeatedly and consistently, as a class, acted against the interests of Americans.  Americans have spent the past 35 odd years with a stagnant or declining standard of living.  The life expectancy of Americans recently dropped (which should tell you that all the numbers that say Americans aren’t getting slagged are BS), something which happened in Russia not long before their collapse.

Ordinary Americans work longer and harder and get a smaller proportion of the societies benefits every year.

Of course, right wing solutions aren’t, they’ll just make things worse. But Americans live in a complete propaganda state, and don’t know up from down.  The right controls every major media organ, and is able to get pluralities or majorities of Americans to believe things which simply aren’t true, like that Iraq had something to do with 9/11 (70% of Americans believed that.  That didn’t happen by mistake, since there’s no evidence of it.)

Confused, lied to, living in a world which doesn’t make any sense, because it isn’t intended to make sense, and in a situation where even if they aren’t personally in financial trouble, they are only one bad bounce away from winding up on the street, being bankrupted by health care bills and then dying anyway, what is amazing about American political violence isn’t that there is so much of it, but that there is as little as there is.

The pattern is clear enough.  Major corporate interests have bled the country white.  Whether these are financial interests, the military industrial complex, the telecom companies or the various medical interests, the result is the same: the rich are filthy rich, corporations making record profits and ordinary people taking it in the neck.  They have then bought up the major media, which they use for propaganda purposes.  Fox is the major offender, but no major outlet is immune.

The political class works for the corporate class, not the other way around. It doesn’t have to be that way, all the levers are available to crush the corporate class any time the political class wants to, but the fact remains that the corporate class calls the shots, not the other way around.  During the debate over TARP calls against ran from 100:1 against to 1200:1 against.  It still passed.  The public option was more popular than the health care bill that passed by a huge margin, but it was traded away early and never seriously considered.

It is useful to the corporate class for the political class to live in fear, however.  What I am hearing is that many politicians and their staff do draw a line between violent right wing rhetoric and what happened to Giffords.

But most members at the very top of the corporate class, like the Koch brothers, live in such rarified circumstances that they hardly ever see an ordinary person.  They fly in private jets, they stay in $50,000/night hotel rooms or private estates and so on.  Politicians, on the other hand, have to glad hand.  It is their job to handle ordinary people.  They are, and always will be, exposed to violence.

If that violence is inspired by the right, if the right are the people showing up with guns, well, what’s the problem, exactly, for the corporate class?  If politicians are scared to do anything non-right wing, how does that hurt the very rich?  Oh sure, violence might get out of control, but it’s pretty clear they don’t really believe that, or they wouldn’t have spent hundreds of millions on the Republican side of the last election, would they have?

No, Giffords is a sign post on the road.  That sign post may say stop, but this intersection will at most be a slight pause in the trip.

50 Responses
  1. guest permalink
    January 10, 2011

    If politicians are scared to do anything right wing, how does that hurt the very rich?

    Is that what your meant? Don’t you mean anything non-right wing?

  2. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 10, 2011

    Ian;
    “Confused, lied to, living in a world which doesn’t make any sense, because it isn’t intended to make sense, and in a situation where even if they aren’t personally in financial trouble, they are only one bad bounce away from winding up on the street, being bankrupted by health care bills and then dying anyway, what is amazing about American political violence isn’t that there is so much of it, but that there is as little as there is.”
    ===============================================
    Ah-men.
    The willful ignorance; the willful dumbing down and the fear of “difference”, rampant across the U.S. and it’s citizens, defeats any hope of a continuance of a meaningful democracy in the U.S.A.; not to beg the obvious.
    Last one out turn out the lights please.

  3. Ian Welsh permalink*
    January 10, 2011

    Woops, thanks guest.

  4. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 10, 2011

    Excellent post, Ian. Very fair and balanced, and you avoided the predisposed knee jerk response so many on the so-called “left” have exhibited in regards to this Giffords shooting incident. This shooting spectacle has become somewhat of a Rorschach test for the Masses and the responses to it have been perfectly predictable……as intended, really. The Right Wing violent rhetoric is a perfectly logical manifestation of a violently competitive system that objectifies everything in its path, including the living, and determines its usefulness in its strategy of transforming magnificent nature into toxic waste.

    But it’s not just the so-called “right wingers” who engage in violent terminology and innuendo. Take a gander at this. Everything’s a “target” in this diabolical system. You’re either with it, or you’re against it, “left” and “right” alike.

    http://hillbuzz.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/screen-shot-2011-01-08-at-3-05-33-pm.png

    I had to laugh out loud when I saw a typical card-carrying, mindless reactionary “Liberal” post a petition to indict Sarah Palin over this latest incident….even before all the evidence about the perpetrator(s) is in. No mention of indicting Obama for carrying on the murderous policies of his predecessor, though. Talk about ignoring the 20,000 lb elephant in the room, or the hand right in front of one’s face.

    http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2011/01/08/petition-to-indict-sarah-palin/

    What a hoot. This isn’t Kabuki…it’s a Minstrel Show.

  5. January 10, 2011

    Ian,

    Sadly, I fear you are right.

  6. January 10, 2011

    I agree. I also think this is going to be used to justify further repressive police measures. In the long term, it is likely that the violence will collapse the credibility of the radical right–the public knows intuitively that violence is the tool of people with no political arguments–, but it could be decades before that long term arrives.

  7. jawbone permalink
    January 10, 2011

    Raven, anything can be used to justify “further repressive police measures.” And that goes even more so for “repressive police state measures.” which this nominally Democratic administration in rushing to achieve.

  8. January 10, 2011

    Jawbone wrote:

    Raven, anything can be used to justify “further repressive police measures.” And that goes even more so for “repressive police state measures.” which this nominally Democratic administration in rushing to achieve.

    I think this is inarguable (though every time I say it at the Cogblog, god knows I get plenty of argument). I can only think that if the gunman were named El-Jared al-Loughner, we’d already be hearing endless exhortations to “do something” about “all these Muslim extremists.” In any case, I’m afraid the government is going to “do something” — lots of things. But not the right things, such as curbing gun ownership. Or increasing mental health care.

  9. Blitzen permalink
    January 10, 2011

    Great post — but the truth here is even worse than you think. Violent right-wing rhetoric is basically a marketing campaign, and it works just like the marketing of any other product. It gets ratings with otherwise-regular people because it it lurid, and it dog-whistles the hard-core fringe because that’s what it’s designed to do.

    The “whocouldanode?” response is bullshit for two reasons: 1) Violence works. Even after so horrific an event as Saturday’s the needle still creeps right because it gets scarier and scarier to be left. 2) It IS PREDICTABLE. Markov chains can reasonably predict the transition to a “sale”, given the number of touches (e.g. Michelle Bachman calling out the “armed and dangerous”) and the estimated size of the target audience. CSVG.org’s “Insurrectionist Timeline” gives a high-level summary of the touches — how could Saturday NOT be the result!?

    The Fairness Doctrine is the answer. It was created after WWII specifically to stop the rise of fascism and to ensure that the far-right wasn’t the only side marketing its message on the airwaves. Tucson Sheriff Dupnik called it correctly — if the only voices out there are violent voices, then they are bound to elicit a violent response.

    A “moment of silence” in response to Saturday’s tragedy? That’ll do as much good as a moment of silence would have done following the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. We needed building codes — not silence — then, and we need the Fairness Doctrine now. Otherwise the fire’s not going to go out.

  10. David Kowalski permalink
    January 10, 2011

    The crocodile tears of John Boehner who vaguely but consistently incites violence against his Democratic colleagues is not only contemptible but a further piece in the puzzle. Democrats need to take the low hanging fruit here: Jesse Kelly and some of the other Arizona GOP politicians. Forget Sarah Palin. There are reasons that this happened in Arizona and in this district rather than say Ohio or Nevada or Florida.

    We have problems here at lots of levels. The killer, mass killer really, was turned down by the Army (and they are desperate these days) and thrown out of junior college. At some point the man should have gotten treatment before the likely explosion. The culture of blame where Republicans freely toss out words like treason is not being addressed except by the local sherriff. The false equality of this situation is corrupt, corrupt, corrupt. As you point out thew role of big bucks and corporations in destroying the state and destroying the country for short term benefit is astounding. I’d like to see some lawyer take a few billions out of the Koch family fortune. They’s never feel the loss. Maybe a few billion and a prison term.

    We are reaching a stage where something and many things can be done but doing them is getting harder and harder.

  11. January 10, 2011

    Blitzen’s references to the Fairness Doctrine and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire are apt. Problem with the Fairness Doctrine, even if it were to come back, is that the world has changed. You can clean up talk radio all you want, but there’s still the internet. And I’m too much a proponent of free speech to want to limit that in any way. These nutcases have a much easier time getting together nowadays thanks to technology.

  12. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    January 10, 2011

    Madame de Pompadour – Apre nous le déluge

    This particular attempted assassination has all the earmarks of a social tipping point into a descent into political Armageddon. The common language has been destroyed, words no longer build bridges but erect barriers, calling daemons upon who-ever or what-ever is not us. The will for political accommodation and compromise have been uprooted from infertile untended soils as so many undesired weeds, their fruits desiccated from prolonged drouth of comity.

    There is no compromise with the politically and purposely ignorant. There is no compromise with political fantasy and mythological delusions. There is no accommodation with any that refuse to accommodate, they must be expelled from the body politic as a cancer is excised. There is no ability to give shelter to lies, to propaganda, to misdirection, to false and misleading speech or those who spread such speech. There must be no tolerance for any who claim power through these methods and the price for violating the public trust for gain must be the ultimate price, this, without exception, otherwise corruption becomes unstoppable.

    Politics, defined as the art of gaining power, influence or persuasion over another, no longer exists in the public forum; ideology has made the skill obsolete and provides the drum beat to march to for the believing zealots. Meaningless babble is the currency of communication; words are defrauded of their meaning and import and become useless tools to meet the exigency of the day to salvage whatever is possible.

    The country will not stop to contemplate their peril, to give consideration to the very real danger to the body politic that the present climate holds to seeing the future as a democratic nation. Already the ability and power of government is totally compromised into a state of failure to meet the country’s needs. Survival requires a consensus to meet the challenges but consensus is a political hostage being held and ransomed for complete ultimate power.

    There is every reason to fear this will not end well.

  13. Ian Welsh permalink*
    January 10, 2011

    During the 70s in Britain there was a great deal of real terrorism, and it didn’t lead to much in the way of repression. In the 90s there was little and Britain set up a surveillance state.

    The decision to repress or not has little do with real threats to the general population, to put it mildly.

  14. tBoy permalink
    January 10, 2011

    ===
    “There is no compromise with the politically and purposely ignorant.” Formerly T-Bear
    ===

    The only individual action that we can and must take is to never allow a conversation/discussion/argument to drift into minutia-land.

    On issues such as this – the technique of using threats of physical violence and intimidation in trying to influence a sub-set of activists and voters in a democracy – we must call out the guilty and their enablers.

    And we need to call them out without equivocation. Relentlessly.

    Regardless of what fancy footwork, diversions, and justifications are offered, we need to simply return to the same question without wavering and demand an answer to this simple question: “does using threats of physical violence and intimidation have a place in a democracy?”.

    The person spewing and supporting and enabling the hateful rhetoric will not change. But others listening, watching, and reading will be forced to make the conscious decision to either support evil or reject evil. And by extension those who are evil.

    Imagine a Sunday morning talking-head show where a single guest forces the host and the other guests to answer the question. Never allowing anything, including the commercial breaks, to stop him/her from insisting on one of the only two possible answers. The other members of the panel would either have to answer the question or the show’s producers would have to forcibly remove the inquiring guest.

    The same effect can be had at the water cooler.

  15. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 10, 2011

    Good point, Ian. It’s all to do with the threat to the Plutocratic Oligarchy. Threats to the general population are seen as advantageous to the Elites if they don’t affect the Plutocratic Oligarchy and they can be exploited to enact measures to mitigate any potential threat from the general population. Indeed, a certain level of violence should be inculcated within the general population which allows the general population to police itself, thus taking some of the burden off the Elites and their Technocratic Minions.

  16. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    January 10, 2011

    @ Ian

    Don’t overlook the ’90′s Canary Wharf IRS bombing, 2 dead, massive damage to a major new financial district (IIRC) in London. Government (late Major or early Blair) promised “public security” and the world’s most ubiquitous surveillance system was developed, promising more public safety. Did precious little to stop 7/7 but did show a few of the alleged suspects after much searching the recorded files. It seems to miss as much crime as it catches.

  17. January 10, 2011

    Yep, blow up a government building, crash planes into one of America’s financial centers or shoot a politician and the government has all kinds of extreme measures to prevent it from happening in the future. Systematically shorten tens of thousands of people’s lives a year by not providing affordable health care … which would be most affordable and efficient thru a single payer system … and the only solution our government can come up is one that first further enriches and entrenches the power structure that created the problem.

    Z

  18. January 10, 2011

    This is an excellent essay by the way, Ian. My favorite line is this:

    “Confused, lied to, living in a world which doesn’t make any sense, because it isn’t intended to make sense, and in a situation where even if they aren’t personally in financial trouble, they are only one bad bounce away from winding up on the street, being bankrupted by health care bills and then dying anyway, what is amazing about American political violence isn’t that there is so much of it, but that there is as little as there is.”

    Z

  19. Bernard permalink
    January 10, 2011

    yes, this is all for show. all the innocents pay for the Rich. Obama’s one minute of silence is so indicative of the lack of morals.

    Okay, now the minute is over, we can go back to the fleecing of America.

    now, where were we?

  20. coachmcguirk permalink
    January 10, 2011

    Yet another spot on analysis by Mr. Welsh. I’m trying to save as much money as I can and then I’m leaving this shit hole. Have fun during the decline, SUCKERS.

  21. January 10, 2011

    many on the left have been saying that Republicans need to stop violent rhetoric, because some people take it seriously. Crazies in some cases. (Note that it’s not clear that Loughner was necessarily one of them, mind you.)

    That last sentence illustrates why it’s so difficult to convince the right on this issue, I think. Often, when these things happen, they’re the work of people who are unstable in one regard or another. There’s nearly always another way of looking at why the person did what he did, and it’s often the more personal reasons we all can understand. There’s not much reason to think that Loughner was interested in right wing philosophy. Even liking “Mein Kampf” doesn’t mean much when the person in question doesn’t think the way most of us do. Watch his videos – they’re stream of consciousness rants that don’t make any sense at all. Just like “Mein Kampf”, come to think of it. He may just have appreciated Hitler’s narrative style.

    The old Carl Sagan quote “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof” was really an observation on human nature. If you claim that aliens landed in your back yard and conducted experiments on you, there needs to be some physical evidence, or I’m just going to assume that you had a bad dream. In the case of the right wing, why would they believe that Jared Loughner represents bad judgement on their part? No one has connected those dots even to my satisfaction, and I have no reason to avoid seeing those lines. Anyone who isn’t inclined to see this, whether because of guilt or simply believing the opposite, certainly won’t be convinced.

  22. January 10, 2011

    Greenwald has the most relevant observation:

    “There has been much talk over the last several days, in the wake of the Arizona shooting, about attempts by some citizens to instill physical fear in elected officials. That’s a worthwhile and necessary topic, but the fear that government officials are attempting to instill in law-abiding, dissenting citizens is far more substantial and sustained, and deserves much more attention than it has received.”

    The Obama administration is – in word, deed and omission – no less involved in spreading threats of violence to instill fear than any hate radio agitator. Thugs R’ US is a national tradition, not a Saturday Right Special. It has also become the doctrine of a military with a 70+ year addiction to “terror from above”. It has poisoned the rule of law with pervasively lawless prisons and negligently capitalized punishment. Right makes Might – not just for the right. It is the bipartisan, centrist consensus. It’s Taser Nation. If it wasn’t, Obama would have been impeached already, and Bush before him.

  23. The King permalink
    January 10, 2011

    The right wing will stop the violent rhetoric just as soon as the left wing does.

  24. January 10, 2011

    What tBoy said.

  25. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 10, 2011

    I always liked Uncle Fester. Not any more. This is not your father’s Uncle Fester. Far from it.

    http://msnbcmedia4.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/110110-loughner-hmed-230p.grid-4×2.jpg

    http://coacheshotseat.com/coacheshotseatblog/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/UncleFester.jpg

  26. dougR permalink
    January 10, 2011

    thanks, tBoy, for:

    “The only individual action that we can and must take is to never allow a conversation/discussion/argument to drift into minutia-land. On issues such as this – the technique of using threats of physical violence and intimidation in trying to influence a sub-set of activists and voters in a democracy – we must call out the guilty and their enablers.
    And we need to call them out without equivocation. Relentlessly.”

    I’m afraid the demagogues and tools we have in Washington will prove useless against the rising tide of hate speech and threats. But we individually have some say here, and for me, I’m tired of the specter of armed intimidation that occurs when supposed “men” prance around political events wearing their favorite dick-extenders. These guys are gutless terrorists, whose intention is to quash free speech rather than exercise it, and they deserve nothing but contempt, as do the politicians who deliberately incite them. Michelle Bachmann is too stupid (or opportunistic, but I’d go with stupid) to understand the tide of hatred she’s riding; hopefully some of the grownups on the right AND the squishy center are having second thoughts about their own personal responsibility for pushing impressionable loonies over the edge.

    I don’t personally know anyone who defines their “manhood” in terms of how many guns they own, but that’s a strain running through the militant right that somehow we need to speak to, individually, in our own lives. Our “responsible leaders” and particularly our gutless “if it bleeds it leads” media, are too busy pandering to the hard right for that.

    Finally, I think one thing that’s been entirely missing from all the media palaver about this incident in Arizona is any testimony or comment from staffers in either Cong. Grijalva’s or Giffords’ office, about what it feels like to try to do your job in a climate of terror. I wish our gutless media spent a little more time with them, as I wish the media had done with the staffers in Dr. Tiller’s offices. What must it feel like to be targeted by thugs with lethal intent? How does one live, and try to do one’s job, with Sarah Palin’s crosshairs fixed on them?

  27. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 10, 2011

    What must it feel like to be targeted by thugs with lethal intent? How does one live, and try to do one’s job, with Sarah Palin’s crosshairs fixed on them?

    I don’t think it bothers them too much. They have bigger fish to fry, or should I say asses to kiss? They’re so busy with their sycophantic heads up the boss’s ass, they wouldn’t know a crosshairs from a polyp.

  28. S Brennan permalink
    January 10, 2011

    As long as the Democratic party is led by elitist people who have never handled power tools, worked in a factory, or gone through basic training and threats like this will appear to work. Knowing which brand of caviar to mix ‘pair” with what wine might make you a star in DC, but it makes you come across as complete ass elswhere.

    Make enlisted Soldiers & Marines, blue-collar workers and athletes in tough sports…who know how to sneer at a threat and your problem will go away.

    Eeeeewwww, we can’t do that says the blogger boy squad because…

    1] We really need wimpy Democrats who can pound key boards

    2] We’ve always failed when we headline wimps…we have to keep trying.

    3] Manly dudes and chicks that swagger make blogger boys feel like they’re in High School again…they were so mean to me.

    Threaten this guy and see how it comes across:

    http://www.kendrickmeek.com/pages/12/

    Note: “blogger boy” does not apply Ian.

  29. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 10, 2011

    S. Brennan makes a great point. All Democrats, including wimpy Bloggers and Blog Commentators, should report immediately to the former School of The Americas for Basic Training in Counter-Insurgency Torture and Terror Tactics. It’s time to get tough.

    http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/father_roy_inside_the_school_of_assassins/

  30. polyorchnid octopunch permalink
    January 10, 2011

    Morocco Bama: Thank you very much for proving the point about you and the other people like you.

  31. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 10, 2011

    I’ll take this message over anything S. Brennan and his militaristic goons have to say or do, even if I am a strong agnostic.

    http://www.djpauledge.com/wewillnotbesilenced/index_secondmovie.html?tt=1.1

  32. January 10, 2011

    So wait…in order to have political success one must cater to fantasies of muscular masculinity? Oh, wait…

  33. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 10, 2011

    I didn’t realize that the following profile was the demographic at which the Palin pitch was aimed, and yet the knee jerks on the left are blaming it on the violent rhetoric of the right. Jesus, this whole left/right thing is a joke.

    5:34 he was a pot head & into rock like Hendrix,The Doors, Anti-Flag. I haven’t seen him in person since ’07 in a sign language class

    5:36 As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/weigel/archive/2011/01/08/the-twitter-life-of-caitie-parker.aspx

    By that definition, Giffords had as much to fear from her “left wing, quite liberal” staffers as she did from this Uncle Fester look alike.

  34. S Brennan permalink
    January 10, 2011

    Instead of John Glenn we got Mondale in 1984:

    Oh but, Mondale was so much more…blah blah blah, so instead of man who was sure war was a bad idea, we got Draft Dodging Reagan and Bush [the 1st] who was labeled a coward by his fellow squad members and sent home for leaving his crewman to die when he bailed out…cowards like starting wars, it’s in their blood. That led to invading panama, starting the Iraq/Iran war, starting Gulf War I, pardoning those who sold weapons to our enemies…oh yeah, but thank goodness we didn’t get that jock war hero…cause you know, Draft dodging Reagan and cowardly Bush was so much more peaceful.

    Adn because our keyboard cadets like to smear those who serve:

    “Glenn was one of the five U. S. Senators caught up in the Keating Five…Glenn and Republican Senator John McCain were the only Senators exonerated.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Glenn

  35. January 11, 2011

    S Brennan that’s hilarious. What a dead-on parody of right-wing culture war foolishness.

  36. Guest permalink
    January 11, 2011

    So we’re dealing with a group of people who have all the money and all the power, plus the will and means to progandize their way to pluralities of falsehood, not to mention that they’re down with inciting violence (by the confused, against non-culprits).

    And we’re going to reason our way forward? I mean, really, what solution does anyone see that isn’t bloody? Since when, in the history of the world, has anyone willingly given up so much money and power? Point me the way forward, b/c as much of a pacifist as I am, it seems to me that the reasonable are going to get stomped.

  37. Guest permalink
    January 11, 2011

    progandize -> propagandize

  38. David H. permalink
    January 11, 2011

    It’s interesting to reflect (to simplify egregiously) that in response to the violence of communism, from Stalin & others who discredited violence as a tool for the left, the left felt obliged to forswear violence evermore, and attempt to become Gandhi-like in pursuit of its aims. The fear of people hoping for, or working toward, a real alternative to rapacious capitalism died with the demise of the “communist” countries, even if those countries were nothing like the idea of socialism many on the left want to believe possible.

    Meanwhile, the right has felt no such compunction because violence has, and continues to, serve its needs quite well. As the right controls the media, it’s violence is portrayed as patriotic, necessary, heroic, while the left’s violence has simply been terrorism, no matter how laudable the ends pursued (what is laudable can obviously be debated.) And the right’s use of violence has only increased as the western democracies have dumped even lip service to social democracy in the wake of its lost fears of communism or socialism.

    While not wanting to promote the use of violence by the left (and by left I don’t mean Democrats,) it’s hard to imagine how meaningful change is going to come via the ballot box or the peaceful protest. So yeah, I’m aware that I’m contradicting myself. Politicians may fear right-wing violence, and so hew the line, but what do they have to fear from the left? Too many choruses of We shall overcome?

    I don’t have the answers, no am I willing to put my life on the line, or kill to achieve the political ends necessary to radically change our society. I just think it’s useful we understand how the left has become the faction that nobody fears anymore, or even takes seriously in the US. There are no consequences to ignoring people’s hopes for a more just & equitable world. Just to be taken seriously should be the first goal. Fear doesn’t necessarily have to be a fear of violence, I hope. But debating the right & hoping they’ll see the error of their ways is not a viable strategy.

    Not a hell of a lot of radical change has ever come about peacefully. No matter where you look, you’ll find bodies. I sincerely hope there’s another way, but history seems to tell us that humanity hasn’t found it yet.

  39. David H. permalink
    January 11, 2011

    I’ll take this message over anything S. Brennan and his militaristic goons have to say or do.

    When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth & love has always won.

    I’d really like to believe this, but unfortunately it’s complete bullshit. Truth & love may have always won, but not w/o a lot of bombs dropping first (or whatever violent technology existed at various points in history.)

  40. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    January 11, 2011

    1)
    Not being a subject of US media, something that is reported does raise questions. Granting the likelihood of an unstable mind, it does seem curious that about the time the weapon was bought, it seems more than coincidental that a smokescreen of youTube videos was also being established to demonstrate the assassin’s deranged mental state almost in anticipation of escaping the consequences of the assassination(s) through the legal device of the insanity plea; taking full advantage of the violence provoking political rhetoric that is coin of the realm.

    2)
    Watching clips of Obama’s expressions of seemingly heartfelt dismay and grief at the senseless maiming and slaughter in Arizona, it is also mandatory to call to mind that he, in his executive position is also maiming and slaughtering the persona of a prisoner under his direct control, violence of the most unspeakable kind of torture against a helpless prisoner hidden in the depths of military incarceration, a prisoner held without charge or reason, held only by accusation without recourse to answer whatever ephemeral charges which can be imagined. The tears of the nobel laureate in the white house are crocodilian.

    3)
    Overseas a man is being incarcerated, his liberty removed upon a charge brought forth after the fact that has probable genesis in a lie told about a congress held in private. The basis in fact is this man is providing the discovery of fact which is the protected jurisdiction of the press but is being suborned by corporate powers controlling that press. Again there are no charges provided the accused to mount a defense upon. Whilst in detention there is a very real factor that he too will fall into the custody of the nobel laureate in the white house and his minions for a fate surely as gruesome as that being inflicted on the laureate’s other prisoner.

    Just as there has been no public outcry or outrage concerning the voicing of violence, there has been no public acknowledgement of the crimes being committed in the public’s name hidden in the fogs of fear and insecurity. There are few that raise their objection above the deafening stillness of public apathy. One is here, read it if you dare:

    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2010/11/201011375125752323.html

  41. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 11, 2011

    I’d really like to believe this, but unfortunately it’s complete bullshit. Truth & love may have always won, but not w/o a lot of bombs dropping first (or whatever violent technology existed at various points in history.)

    Agreed. However, I won’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The video, its message and the way it was done is inspiring and I agree with the majority of the message sans what you have just mentioned and the God, Faith and the Book bullshit.

  42. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 11, 2011

    But debating the right & hoping they’ll see the error of their ways is not a viable strategy.

    Amen to that. The so-called “Left,” because there really is no true “Left”, has allowed itself to be defined by the so-called “Right.” And, of course, all of it has been defined by the Technocratic Propaganda Ministers. It’s the show that never ends.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_zo0FiNheI

  43. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 11, 2011

    T-Bear, I agree that the impersonal, systematic cold evil is being ignored as the personal, one-off hot evil is being exploited as spectacle. The systematic cold evil is much more efficient and effective at its purpose, and it is the real threat, hence my 20,000 lb elephant in the room comment early in the thread comments. As this spectacle unfolds, Obama has ordered another “silent” surge in Afghanistan, and we all know another surge will mean the increased mass slaughter of innocents in that already decimated country. Chris Floyd covers it here.

    http://www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-latest-news/2074-silent-surge-a-shocking-act-of-political-violence.html

    For those who aren’t aware of the terms cold evil and hot evil, here is a link that explains.

    http://www.smallisbeautiful.org/publications/kimbrell_00.html

    When contemplating cold evil’s military incarnations we see not only the ethical consequences of distancing but also the critical role of scale. Kirkpatrick Sale has written eloquently in Human Scale about the crucial role scale plays in all aspects of contemporary life. It is also an essential problem of modern ethics. When technology allows us to deliver weapons (or energy, food, education, etc.) on a tremendous scale, personal contact and responsibility are lost. Imagine if one had to kill millions of people one at a time with a sword. Contrast this with allowing a computer to annihilate the same number of people with a few nuclear bombs. The sword, however destructive, is a human-scale weapon that has a very circumscribed ability to kill. By contrast, the nuclear bomb’s scale is almost unlimited and its consequences beyond individual or even social control.

    Ethical distancing and ethical problems of scale are not limited to high-impact military technology. The behavior and nature of modern technocracies, business, and government organizations are equally illustrative of this cold evil. Witness how corporations, now working on the global scale, routinely make calculated decisions about the risks of the products they manufacture. Typically, they weigh the cost of adding important safety features to their products against the potential liability to victims and the environment and then make the best “bottom line” decision for the company. More often than not, safety or environmental measures lose out in this calculation. As for people or nature, they have been “distanced” into numerical units relegated to profit-or-loss columns. The corporations then decide how many units they can afford to have harmed or killed by their products.

    We witness daily the way the modern corporation has become distanced in time and space from its actions. A pesticide company has moved to another country or even gone out of business by the time—years after it has abandoned its chemical plant—the local aquifer and river have become hopelessly polluted, fish and wildlife decimated, and there is a fatal cancer cluster among the families relying on the local water supply. The executives of a tire company are thousands of miles or even a continent away and do not hear the screech of wheels and the screams as their defective tires burst and result in fatal crashes.

  44. malcontent permalink
    January 11, 2011

    @t-boy “The person spewing and supporting and enabling the hateful rhetoric will not change. But others listening, watching, and reading will be forced to make the conscious decision to either support evil or reject evil. And by extension those who are evil.”

    I think it worth noting that the audiences have been damaged by the incessant rage they experience while listening to their favorite flavor of media tripe. Dogs may salivate but Americans fantasize about revenge on cue in Pavlovian rhythm and they will need to be weened with care. The constant barrage of disgust triggers in so much of our media has conditioned the “the politically and purposely ignorant”, a.k.a. the mouth-breathing zombies to consume metered rage daily. They need someone to hate, a demon to conquer.

    It’s a hard habit to self-recognize and even harder to have exercised, but that is the next challenge as I see it in America today if we are to rid ourselves of the voodoo spin doctors on our airwaves and internets. I’m less than optimistic that either will occur without more significant violence.

  45. anon2525 permalink
    January 11, 2011

    But let’s assume the constant atmosphere of violent rhetoric did have some effect. Why would the right stop it?

    Now, let’s assume that they did stop the constant atmosphere of violent rhetoric. The “obvious truth” is that it would not stop the endless series of homicides by guns in the U.S. The shooter used a gun, not a water pistol or a pea-shooter or a knife or a baseball bat. And people have access to guns in the U.S. because of a multi-decade campaign to prevent anything from restricting access, which, in turn, is because the republicans, primarily, have found this to be a useful wedge issue to use to get elected. People are getting murdered so that other people can get elected.

    Virginia Tech shooting: 32 people killed
    Columbine shooting: 12 people killed
    Westside Middle school shooting: 5 people killed (shooters aged 11 and 13)

    In 2004, the CDC reported that 11,624 people were shot to death*, or about 30 per day. In other words, there was a Virginia Tech massacre in the U.S. yesterday, there will be one today, and there will be one tomorrow.

    *The latest year that these statistics about gun fatalities are available. And that does not include the 16,750 suicides or 649 accidental deaths by shooting. link

  46. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 11, 2011

    Nearly 600,000 people die needlessly of cancer each year in the United States. Cancer manifests because of exposures to environmental toxins. Before we ban guns, let us first ban the manufacture, and use, of all known cancer causing toxic pollutants. For the record, I don’t own a gun, never have, and I have little to nothing in common with people who love their guns.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19474385

    How many of those gun homicides, by the way, are the result of poverty and the ridiculous War On Drugs? Until you acknowledge the defective structure of this diabolical system, any attempts to mitigate the symptoms of the disease will be nothing more than spitting into a head wind….in otherwords, futility.

  47. January 11, 2011

    S. Brennan may not have said it well, but his point stands. The Left/Democrats don’t have an answer to the Right/GOP’s violent rhetoric because the left doesn’t stand for anything. It most certainly does not stand for, represent, or even do a good job at pretending to give a shit about the working class.

    Never mind who gets nominated for what. The people of “real America” don’t consciously know how they’re being driven into the ground, but they know that it’s happening. The right lends a, seemingly neighborlike, hand of comfort. It explains, very simply, what the problem is. And it’s not unclear about what the solutions are either. Sure, it’s all bullshit.

    The problem is that without any other compelling narrative, lots of people are more than willing to take bullshit as the gospel truth. The left doesn’t offer a compelling narrative. So far as i can tell, the left doesn’t actually stand for any thing (broad principles not-withstanding). It certainly doesn’t stand for anything with enough conviction to fight for it…or even make the average rube believe that it will fight.

    For god’s sake, the working people of America need so much help it’s depressingly sad. Maybe the left/Democrats should start by fighting for them. The only thing the GOP has are words; fight those with action and see what happens.

  48. January 11, 2011

    If the left had coherence … and the left really should be represented by a party that unashamedly adheres to that evil ideology socialism to actually be taken seriously … then the left would be making a case for higher taxes on the rich and corporations to fund a true universal health care. And they’d particularly be illuminating the sorry state of this country’s mental health care. Becoz once you filter thru all the bullshit, the true core reason for the murders was that the shooter was an untreated mentally ill person. The stuff that the left is trying to make hay over now: the guns and the right wing rhetoric, are things that everyone has available to them and is exposed to. And yet the only person who did this was an untreated mentally ill person.

    Z

  49. January 11, 2011

    Here is some info about the state of AZ’s mental health care services:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/11/pima-county-mental-health-services_n_807522.html

    Z

  50. anon2525 permalink
    January 11, 2011

    Whether there is a lessening of violent rhetoric or not, there will be nothing done about the gun violence in the country. On the other hand, if there is continuing gun violence (one more shooting?) against a political figure, then I predict that the political class will act to protect itself in the form of laws and/or physical protection. It might not even take one more shooting.

    Unending decades of physical violence against the general population? “That’s a statistic, um, a tragedy. Let’s move on.” Physical violence against even a few political figures? “That’s a national emergency. We need to act to stop this now.”

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