Sunday, April 04, 2010

Racism, political violence and false equivalencies (3)

Bob Somerby, aka, The Daily Howler

Bob "The Daily Howler" Somerby has been having an online dialogue with Digby over the last week. In his March 29 column, he chided Dibgy for quoting with approval from this column by Frank Rich, Word from Hullabaloo 03/28/10. Somerby's comment was:

Yesterday, Digby praised Rich’s wonderful thinking; she highlighted the very part of his column we ourselves found to be most pathetic. But matters of race drive white liberals mad. Every IQ point flies from their heads until they have suitably rendered.
Rich is certainly not as careful as he might be, as Somerby himself as ably pointed out on more than one occasion. But Rich in that column cited a number of instances of extremist rhetoric from the Tea Party movement, including ones he took to be evidence of white racism. He posed the question:

Are these [Republican] politicians so frightened of offending anyone in the Tea Party-Glenn Beck base that they would rather fall silent than call out its extremist elements and their enablers? Seemingly so, and if G.O.P. leaders of all stripes, from Romney to Mitch McConnell to Olympia Snowe to Lindsey Graham, are afraid of these forces, that’s the strongest possible indicator that the rest of us have reason to fear them too.
Although Digby's indicated that she was in general agreement with what she quoted from Rich, including that paragraph, and that she thought his column as a whole was good,her comment was:

It's more likely that they don't but fear them but find them useful, which is even more irresponsible.

In 1965 there was a common perception of reality. There isn't anymore. The tea baggers live in a FOX and hate radio drenched world of a different dimension. The most sane among them believe liberals are fomenting the violence by passing legislation they don't like. Most of them, however, literally believe that liberals are violently threatening them and they need to protect themselves. Bizarroworld.
Just what is it that Somerby doesn't agree with about what Rich and Digby have said?

The Democrats and regular citizens can't just ignore what the Republicans are saying, either those in Congress, those on the (unofficial by actual) Party network FOX News, or those in the Tea Party to which major Party leaders like Sarah Palin is catering and which the Republicans are heavily supporting backdoor through groups like Dick Armey's Freedom Works front group.

And, what the bleep? The FBI just arrested an aspiring far-right Christian terrorist group for plotting a mass murder of cops. This after a year of increasingly hysterical and unhinged extremist talk and agitation from many of those Republican sources. And a year of multiple killings by far-right extremists. Are we just supposed to disregard all this?

From some of the comments he's made, Somerby would likely respond that he just wants liberals to be smart and accurate in the way they address it. But, as I said in the first post in this series, I'm beginning to wonder if there is any way liberals can criticize white racism, point to Republicans promoting demonstrable falsehoods, and warn of the dangers of far-right extremism and violence, that would meet Somerby's approval.

Obviously, people need to be savvy and careful in how they approach it. But it would be foolish for Democrats or any serious political analysts to ignore what's happening in front of our faces.

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