Sunday, January 09, 2011

Tuscon terrorist attack: vague platitudes of regret aren't enough

After Saturday's Tucson terrorist attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords took us a bit closer to becoming the Weimar Republic, the Chicago Sun-Times decided to break with one of the brain-dead clichees of recent years and say what is plainly true: that the incitement to violence and the venomous hate rhetoric in American politics is coming almost exclusively from the right (We can't say we weren't warned about Arizona shooting tragedy 01/09/2011):

Only in time will we know if the killer was among those who threatened Giffords with physical harm last year when she voted in favor of President Obama’s health-care reforms. We may never know whether he was the one who shattered the windows of her Tucson office. And it’s entirely possible that he was not among those — the many — who threatened her with death after she spoke out against Arizona’s harsh new immigration law.

But would any intelligent person be surprised to learn otherwise?

The safe observation for us to make now — you will hear it from others all week — is that the angry and irresponsible talk that might lead an unhinged person to pick up a gun is common across the political landscape, from right to left.

But that simply is not true.

Overwhelmingly today, the fear-mongering and demonizing flow from the right, aided and abetted by cable TV and talk-radio hosts.
They may represent only the irresponsible fringe of conservatism in America, but they are drowning out the thoughtful voices of the vast majority of conservatives. [my emphasis]
Only in that last bit would I have to disagree with that statement. Today's Republican Party is not "thoughtful".

Its leading spokespeople include people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Its Party TV channel is FOX News, which cranks out fabrications, distortions and shameless fear-mongering constantly. If the Republican Party represents what passes for conservatism in the US today, then conservatism in the US is not speaking with "thoughtful voices."

Presuming there are such "thoughtful voices" in the Republican Party, now would be the time for them to come out publicly and unambiguously against the hate-mongering generated by their own Party and its de facto ideologists like the junkie bigot Rush Limbaugh. Denouncing the shooting itself and not addressing the larger context doesn't cut it. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik gave an example on Saturday of how it can be done.

But if Republican leaders are serious about dialing this back, they will have to do more than talk in general terms. They will have to name names, including Rush Limbaugh's and Glenn Beck's. And they will have to be specific about condemning things like Sarah Palin's crosshairs map that identified Gabrielle Giffords' district as a target, and which she promoted with slogans like "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" McCain biographer Danny Schechter provides screen captures in Breaking: Targeted by Palin, AZ Congresswoman Shot The News Dissector 01/08/2011.

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"It is the logic of our times
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