‘titillating their audiences with hints of justified violence’

Jacob Weisberg (Slate): There’s something offensive, as well as pointless, about the politically charged inquiry into what might have been swirling inside the head of Jared Loughner …. it is appropriate, however, to consider what was swirling outside Loughner’s head.

…the context was the anti-government, pro-gun, xenophobic populism that flourishes in the dry and angry climate of Arizona. Extremist shouters didn’t program Loughner…. but the Tea Party movement did make it appreciably more likely that a disturbed person like Loughner would react … in the crazy way he did.

At the core of the far right’s culpability is its ongoing attack on the legitimacy of U.S. government — a venomous campaign not so different from the backdrop to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 … it is this, rather than violent rhetoric per se, that is the most dangerous aspect of right-wing extremism.

…Conservative entertainers like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin like to titillate their audiences with hints of justified violence, including frequent reminders that they are armed and dangerous. Palin went so far as to put a target on someone who subsequently got shot. Whether or not the man who fired the gun was inspired by Palin isn’t the point. The point is that you shouldn’t paint targets on people, even in metaphor, or jest.

Guns are also at the heart of how the right’s ideology enabled Loughner. Tea Partiers often frame the right to bear arms as a necessary check on federal despotism … First you rile up psychotics with inflammatory language about tyranny, betrayal, and taking back the country. Then you make easy for them to get guns.

But if you really want trouble, you should also make it hard for them to get treatment for mental illness …. if Republicans succeed in repealing the Obama health care bill, that’s how it will remain.

Again, none of this says that Tea Party caused the Tucson tragedy, only that its politics increased the odds of something like it happening … it is the right that amuses itself with violent chat and proclaims an injured innocence when its flammable words blow up.

Read the full article here

11 Responses to “‘titillating their audiences with hints of justified violence’”

  1. 1 Hachikō
    January 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I thought this was perfectly articulated as well:

    Aren’t Both Sides Guilty of Inflamed Rhetoric?
    George Packer: “In fact, there is no balance — none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side’s activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can’t stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.” http://politicalwire.com/archives/2011/01/11/arent_both_sides_guilty_of_inflamed_rhetoric.html

  2. 2 Theo67
    January 11, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Very accurate. The far left, as frustrating as they may be, only threaten to primary a candidate whose actions they dislike – they don’t threaten to kill them.

  3. 4 Obaman
    January 11, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    I couldn’t agree more to the article! Why would some crazy guy from a tea-party dominating district/state would fire at a congress woman from the party that the tea-party works against so hard and violent? If he was just crazy and had no mind, he would have been just turning the gun against himself or someone random than targeting this congress woman!

    It is very much clear that the political environment in that district or state worked as a catalyst towards the already crazy thoughts and ideals of this man and eventually he acted on it. He planned this very well and very much intended to kill the representative. Probably the previous threats and attacks against her must have justified his thoughts that government is evil and someone who represented it is evil too. When he looked at the political environment in his place, he saw a bunch of like minded people (T-Party) attacking and threatening this official whom they painted as a Marxist and what not! He just went ahead and did what he ‘thought’ all these people out there have been threatening about.

    Bottom line — Sarah Palin and her T-party express successfully painted this democratic member as some one who is not good for the district and for a man without much emotional quotient, this was enough to justify his actions. So indirectly, they are responsible and they must be ashamed.

    Why are they now saying this linking is ‘outrageous’? They were doing more than this to the President! How many such ‘outrageous’ comments they made against this president so far? That too without any relevant data supporting their arguments?

    You know what? “What goes around, comes around…” Now take it!

    In my opinion, Sarah Palin can remain to be a Fox News commentator for rest of her life. Look at her now! Why should she take down that website after these attacks? Why should she remain silent if she thinks she is not to be blamed? Why she is not making her case strongly, if she believes she has not the feeling of being indirectly responsible for such a hate environment? Fact is, she knows she is responsible and she is just clueless (not surprisingly!) what to do now.

    To all you T-Party friends out there. Just stop this non-sense and get on with your lives. If you love your country, then engage in common sense debate than going in to extremism. America deserves better than this!

  4. 6 Sue in Minnesota
    January 12, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Spot on! Excellent points refuting the protestations and distortions of the far right.

  5. 7 Sue in Minnesota
    January 12, 2011 at 12:17 am

    I just want to add how incongruent, conceptually I find the gun imagery to either Pro Life or Pro God.

    • 8 avpmom
      January 12, 2011 at 6:22 am

      So true Sue, but they still insist they are “pro” life even as they incite and then applaud the killing of Dr. Tiller and tout the “bravery” and “patriotism” of the sickest muderers that happen to share their warped points of view~

  6. 10 Asher in Boston
    January 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Jeeez, when will the RW ever be held accountable for all their violent, threatening rhetoric by the LAME MSM??? They always find a way to equate the two. Unbelievable.

    • 11 majii
      January 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm

      IMHO, Asher, they do it because they can, they do it because they have no enduring principles by which they live, and they have been allowed to get away with it for over 30 years. The leaders of the GOP and corporatists like the Koch Bros. and Dick Armey know that they can get their base stirred up, and that if anything bad happens, they’ll be far away in their homes in gated communities protected by their hired security forces. They have no principles, and they do not care for the average American. If they did, they’d never use violent rhetoric and violent images to win elections.

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