Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Did violent right wing rhetoric motivate Loughner? It doesn't matter if it didnt.

The hollow, empty argument we are hearing now from the right, including Sarah Palin and many in the news media who want to duck responsibility for the toxic political atmosphere that surrounded the Arizona shooting, is that "there is no evidence that violent rhetoric and imagery had anything to do with Loughner's shooting spree."

The problem with that argument is that if there was nothing wrong with Palin's cross hairs targeting Democrats, or death threats to Bart Stupak, or swastikas displayed at healthcare reform town halls,or schmucks with guns strapped to their hips at anti-healthcare reform rallies ( no doubt carried by those who whose insurance wont cover a penile enlargement), if there were no consequences to Democratic congressional offices being shot at, no one would be talking about it now in the wake of the Arizona shootings. In other words, even if there is no actual connection between the violent rhetoric and Loughner's act, it shouldn't matter.Because the Arizona shootings have created an opportunity to deal with the right wing's violent imagery and rhetoric which should have been done a year ago.

The simple fact that everyone is talking about it, and that conservatives are spending so much time defending it, shows there is a collective guilty conscience that is rampant on the right for its imagery and violent behavior. There is also guilt in the news media and cable outlets like CNN who carried images of the most freakish right wing behavior during the town hall meetings as if it represented a legitimate point of view and was "just politics" which had the effect of legitimizing it. Obama himself said nothing about violent atmosphere created by conservatives including saying nothing about the shooting of the offices of congressional Democrats over healthcare and simply hid from the problem. Democrats in congress are also to blame for not being forceful enough in denouncing those actions, and holding those responsible for the reckless and irresponsible way these incidents were instigated, handled and portrayed. In other words, even if there is no direct connection between Loughner and the violent rhetoric of conservatives like Palin, the atmosphere created by them is still poisonous and needs to be dealth with more forcefully.

Even Giffords herself, who previously had publicly said she was "uncomfortable" with Palins cross hairs imagery "taregeting" her on her website didn't seem to protest  it with the outrage it deserved.

So it really doesn't matter whether Loughner was motivated by any of this or not. If it wasn't a real issue, if there was not a sense of collective guilt, if it wasn't a real problem no one would be talking about it.

The Arizona shooting has spurred the debate about inciting violence politically, because people have known for long time that the violent right wing rhetoric and behavior has been wrong from the beginning. Its no secret that many right wingers in congress were doing their best to stir up red faced hatred against healthcare reform making it an issue of anti-Americanism, fascism, trashing the constitution, and comparing those who supported healthcare reform to Nazi Germany.And the news media let them get away with it without comment treating it as "just politics".

Obama himself said nothing during all of this and instead gave the crazies every indication that their lunacy was working and it did, since he eventually cut a back room deal to kill the public option which was the biggest target of those opposed to healthcare reform.

 At the very least a politically violent atmosphere was created by Republicans and the right that certainly motivated those who shot at the congressional offices of Democrats and left death threats at the offices of Bart Stupak. And no one can say that Loughner wasn't a virus growing in a Petrie dish of toxic politics which, if not the cause, acted as a muliplier. So even if Loughner was not directly motivated to do what he did by Palin, Bachman, Angle, Bohener or Tea Party activists who toted guns to town hall meetings, if the behavior and lunacy of those on the right wasn't a real problem before Loughner opened fire, no one would be talking about it now.

Look at this way; suppose you got a call one day that your 10 year old daughter had been in a bad accident and was in intensive care. You drop what you're doing and race to the hospital. And on the way you experience a flood of remorse and regret for every time she asked you to see her in a school play, or a dance recital, or to help her pick out a Halloween costume and you didn't do it because you were too busy with your work, or a football game or going shopping or something else. You get to the hospital and find out it was just a case of mistaken identity,it was another little girl who was in the accident and your daughter is fine and at home. So what do you? Dismiss all the thoughts you had about how you could have done things better, things you regretted having done because you knew it was wrong, and just forget about it and go back to your old ways? Or do you take it as a wake up call and change the way you do things? That's what this is all about, not Loughner.


Alessandro Machi said...

I don't agree.

There is no point in condemning conservatives now without first condemning progressives from 2008 and their defiling of the 2008 democratic nomination process.

To move on from what the democratic progressives did in 2008 without their apologizing and acknowledging the evil they perpetrated on their own party is not on my to do list.

And I certainly don't want to hear or listen to the progressives freaks like Olbermann or Huffington try to own the shooting when what they did in 2008 to the democratic nomination process was actually worse.

Anonymous said...

the democrats used the exact type of map in take over the house during the bush adm.
the cranky lefties ha a feeble mind

tamerlane said...

Machi argues that "two wrongs make a right." So, certain Democrats did something wrong, (an entirely different thing than what we're talking about, btw), and that means we're not allowed to criticize what the TP does? Garbage logic.

Anonymous is incorrect: the Dems did not use the "exact" imagery. The map she obviously refers to featured dart boards, not gunsights. Nor were the dem roundels accompanied by phrases like "Don't Retreat, string your bows!" and "If you don't like what Congress is doing, resort to Pub Game remedies!"

No matter how they twist and squirm, the TP cannot escape from the fact that they told their followers: 1) the government is your enemy; 2) the govt is illegitimate; and 3) if you don't like the laws the govt passes, just get out your gun.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Whether the toxic rhetoric had a causal impact or not is beside the point. The hysterical protests and over-the-top outrage has become "the" story. Much of it sounds petty and hollow. Personally, I think we should be concerned with the cumulative affect of hate speech and imagery in the public arena. It's counterproductive and is merely a distraction, a way of putting off any serious debate on real issues. But there's also a dehumanizing factor that's downright dangerous, offering up the sense that anything goes, everything is justified as long as we win and keep the "monsters" at bay. We have examples in history to reference. We ignore those examples at our own peril.

Alessandro Machi said...

tamerlane, I did not say "two wrongs make a right", so please don't say that I did.

More accurate would be..."let they who have not sinned cast the first stone".