dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)
[personal profile] dagoski
Pundits and officials on the ground alike have blamed violent political speech as contributing factor in Gabrielle Gifford's assassination.  I know, she's not dead, for the assassin still took her out.  The fact that she's not completely vegetative from the wound she received is a miracle, but let's not fool ourselves.  She won't being going back to congress.  Someone else will take her place.  And it's a good bet that someone will be Republican given Arizona.  I'm not merely indulging in partisanship here, I'm observing a pretty simple fact.  Demographics point in that direction.  Moreover, only one faction in politics uses the sort violent speech being blamed.  A lot of people are asking themselves how this situation came to be.  They're acting as if it came out of nowhere.  Unfortunately, this sort of rhetoric has been used on the Right side of political spectrum for a good long time and it has motivated lone wolf actors to murder as well as organized movements to less than lethal violence.  Anyone who 's worked in Women's Health for the past twenty and more years has lived under constant threat of attack.  The violent speech we now condemn in politics can trace its lineage to Pro Life movement.  At first such speech was confined to the fringes, but, gradually, the mainstream adopted the tone as well.  That's when the bombings and murders began.  From there, the word began to spread.  Things have been getting paranoid on the Right for some time now.  Threats have been pouring out of that side for decades now.  The two biggest vendors of intimidation have been the Pro-Life movement and the various racist movements that collect on the far side of the spectrum.  We've become accustomed to small bombs and individual murders centered around both.  Those of who have had our ears to the ground have noticed the rumblings spreading further.  A few years back when I was in Library School, I became aware of increasingly violent rhetoric from the religious groups aimed at Librarians.  In fact there were a couple of 'hit lists' on websites that implored men of action to take out American Library Association officers.  The crimes our association was accused of were imaginary; removing the Bible from shelves, promoting the occult and pushing pornography on kids.  Crazy stuff, but nonetheless, a lot of people believed it.  Thankfully, no violence happened, but people in quite a few communities leveled sincere accusations at library staff based on what they had read on these websites.  While the volume of violent speech has certainly picked up since the election of Barrack Obama and the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the speech has been there.  More importantly, the speech has been adopted by the political establishment of a major party and media outlets friendly to it.  I'm sure they only meant to fire up their demographically nervous, pro 2nd Amendment base, but they have glossed over the consequences of embracing the crazy.  People who are unbalanced seldom listen to calm level headed voices.  If you've ever tried to talk a crazy person down form doing something insane, you know how futile it is use reason.  You have to find the river of their insanity and hope you channel it in a safe direction. Talking crazy talk means embracing the crazy in your midst.  The talk encourages them, validates their beliefs and moves them to action.  The speech now commonplace on the Right if not officially endorsed by the Republican party falls just short of incitement.  It's sad because the one thing that was true during the Civil Rights Movement is still true today:  It's dangerous to be progressive in this country even when you're just to the right of FDR. 
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dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)

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