Is this who we are?

Once again, I seem to have taken an unplanned break from the blog. Downtime will, I expect, become a recurring feature here. This time I think the reason is because of what happened on Saturday. It left me speechless.

The killings in Tuscon describe, on too many levels, the story of the tragedy that is us. America has produced too many assassins; some succeed, some fail, but still they discharge their weapons. Just in my own lifetime: Kennedy, King, Kennedy, Ford, Reagan, a few other Congress critters (and I am sorry I don’t remember the names) and now Rep. Gifford. The wife of an astronaut. And those are just the political ones.

Public figures of all kinds – journalists, entertainers, doctors, nurses, municipal officials – it is a list too far. Agencies of the government, the buildings that house them, the innocents who showed up for their jobs that day.

We fiercely defend our guns – even the weapons of war – in the hands of those who mean us ill.

We allow – some embrace – the language of incitement, the mindset that sees government as the enemy off all that is good. A mindset that has taken hold and is endlessly reinforced. We now think it’s okay to yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre.

We reward liars and fools – Limbaugh, Murdoch, Beck, Savage. Those who become obscenely wealthy toying with this nation and undermining  our national stability.

Rush Limbaugh changed the face of radio and invented today’s shabby genre of talk radio. He’s been on the air for 20 awful years, on thousands of stations around the country (even the military carries him on its stations). How big an impact has this one man had with his endless stream of nonsense-made-real?

He broadcasts three hours a day, five days a week (not counting reruns). Over 20 years that’s over 15,000 hours of vitriolic anti-Democratic rhetoric and, when the Dems are in power, anti-government rhetoric.

His audience is enormous – he claims 20 million. Plus, there are the Rush wanna-be’s who echo his script and take it even further. They number in the hundreds. They do this on airwaves owned by us and given over to them by the government they despise.

His voice is heard  in all time zones and can probably be found on air every hour of every day almost everywhere in the country.

He intentionally appeals to those among us who fear, who need enemies and who are naturally suspicious of the ‘other’. He reinforces the paranoia of the unstable who seek a target for their rage. He appeals to the deeply tribal, who already did, but now increasingly, exhibit behaviors that reject modernity.

Major American corporations support his program with advertising and he makes maybe $100 million a year. We buy their products. We allow this.

Did we allow Tuscon?

AN UPDATE: I should be clearer about this particular incident. The shooter was clearly disturbed and may not have had a political persuasion; in fact he seems to exhibit the thought disorder typical of post-adolescent onset schizophrenia. And as such, he is very susceptible to inflamatory rhetoric.

FURTHER: Then there’s Mr. Murdoch and his FOX News – friend Brian brought this to my attention: see here from the Globe & Mail:

“So while blaming Fox we have to admit that the Fox News channel’s success is rooted in Fox’s intuitive recognition of the inherent aggressiveness of the American political culture, an aggressiveness that is itself anchored in a public that’s fearful of change and hostile to opposing viewpoints . . . a few years ago, when I wrote mockingly about Fox News and O’Reilly, I felt the full, Fox-style backlash. O’Reilly called me names on the air, several times, and referred to The Globe and Mail as a “far-left” newspaper. In a matter of days I received thousands of abusive e-mails from Fox News viewers. The language of insult was extraordinarily intense.”

 

Note: re the graphic titled ‘Daily Rush’; inaccurate I know, but I’ve not yet gotten around to redoing it.

29 responses to “Is this who we are?

  1. scriptorobscura

    Right on, as always. You might be interested in my perspective about this:
    http://scriptorobscura.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/violence-has-no-place-in-democracy-the-arizona-massacre/

    Thanks for a great blog.

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  2. Violence has been the theme of the Republican since it began its transition to the New Confederate Party with Nixon’s “Southern Strategy.” After the Oklahoma City bombing, white supremacist, Christian Identity, and white separatist organizations scurried for cover like the cockroaches they are. The relative scale of this rampage, combined with the numbness we have developed to right wing calls to violence, will preclude a similar effect. Even as they crept, crawled, and clambered over each other in the rush to eradicate evidence of their violent language, the reaction from the current crop of hatemongers has been barely short of “Bitch had it comin’.”

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  3. It is all so predicable isn’t it. Fox was defending itself hours before it was attacked. I guess that says it all. Palin, the same. Nobody had to name a name…just saying “we need to tone down the violent rhetoric” and the violence speakers saw themselves, and in their guilt attacked. As usual they attack by making any outlandish claim. Ayers seems to be back in the news, somehow it’s his fault rather than theirs. Ironic. Black is white. Lies work. stupid people know no better. Instead of the neo Knownothings, we can call them the Knownobetters. Sigh.

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  4. I can’t be sure, but it sounds like you are calling out right-wing speech and talk radio as having something to do with Tucson.

    Is that really your point?

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    • I am saying that they despoil our public commentary. The talk radio guys and Beck are demogogues. I am saying the level of incitement in the speech these days can trigger actions in the unstable. (and even in the stable as in Tim McVeigh.) The common theme of the right wing is not just anti Democratic – it’s anti government, and some take it further than others.

      To me, what happened says ‘time to talk about the guns again”. Bob Herbert in the NY Times this morning wrote about this and about the fact that in htis new century there have already been 150,000 people murdered in the US and we seem not to care. He calls us ‘an insanely violent country.”

      So yeah pino, I guess I am saying they have something to do with it. Certainly they defend gun rights and decry any attempt to limit what guns people can have and in that instance I would even say they are partially complicit in enabling even the non political crazies.

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      • The talk radio guys and Beck are demogogues. I am saying the level of incitement in the speech these days can trigger actions in the unstable.

        To me, what happened says ‘time to talk about the guns again”.

        I find it interesting how quickly the Left is willing to restrict Liberty when it suits them. And how blind they are to the very same activity taking place within their own ranks.

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        • Ahhh, I am again ‘the Left’. I am multitudes as (Arthlur Clarke? Isaac Asimov?) would say.

          I don’t want to restrict their speech in any legal way. I deplore the way they use it. As for the airtime, there are already rules about how you can and can’t use it. I don’t think anyone has bothered to look at them recently.

          Give me an example of a candiate for vp of the US using lock’n’load language. In the last 100 years.

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          • Give me an example of a candiate for vp of the US using lock’n’load language. In the last 100 years.

            ““If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun. Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl.”

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          • Give me an example of a candiate for vp of the US

            To be strictly fair, that quote wasn’t from a VP candidate. It was from the President.

            But you get the drift.

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          • Here’s another GREAT anti-violent campaign rhetoric from the Left. This may be my new favorite:

            “That Scott down there that’s running for governor of Florida,” Mr. Kanjorski said. “Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. He stole billions of dollars from the United States government and he’s running for governor of Florida. He’s a millionaire and a billionaire. He’s no hero. He’s a damn crook. It’s just we don’t prosecute big crooks.”

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          • So re Obama’s use of that metaphor – is it something he repeated, reinforced, was proud of saying?

            And who is Mr. Kanjorski?

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          • So re Obama’s use of that metaphor – is it something he repeated, reinforced, was proud of saying?

            Most certainly you would have to ask him. However, he continually stirred up anger, images of a fight, identifying enemies and “hand-to-hand combat”.

            who is Mr. Kanjorski?

            Former Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.)

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          • pino, whatever Mr. K said, he doesn’t have a microphone anything like Rush, Beck, the Palin. I think it’s very false equivalency.

            Again, re Obama – he was called out on what he said, did he defend his words?

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          • whatever Mr. K said, he doesn’t have a microphone anything like Rush, Beck, the Palin. I think it’s very false equivalency.

            I TOTALLY understand. You only wanna restrict Liberty for some people but not all. And when those that you disagree with speak, all the better that you pass a law forbidding that speech.

            For the life of me, I fail to understand how the “reach” of a person should be in play when discussing their free speech.

            re Obama – he was called out on what he said, did he defend his words?

            Link to his apology. Or, for that matter, link to where he was called out by the NYTimes, MSNBC, NBC or other major liberal outlets.

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          • [For the life of me, I fail to understand how the “reach” of a person should be in play when discussing their free speech.]

            May I repeat ONCE AGAIN, that I would never never never suggest we take away their RIGHT to free speech. I will however condemn their behavior which is, by the way, the exercise of MY free speech.

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        • Must you soil warm corpses with your BS? Don’t you have a little decency?

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  5. shortbuswonderkid

    I don’t agree with you about the guns. Hitler took the guns from his subjects before invading europe. An armed populace keeps the government honest. I do agree that Rush and Beck are villains. They have abused out freedom of speech and rallied nut-jobs to think that literate people are the enemy of freedom. What we need to do is give arms to the liberals. We should do to these villains what the Italians did to Mussolini.

    PS, I liked your argument enough to re-post you on my facebook page.

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    • Thanks for the post plug. I concur that there is a serious argument for people retaining guns. I don’t agree with it but it is sincere.

      But our gun policies are doing serious damage – to ourselves and, for instance, to Mexico, where the cartels who are taking over the towns and villages near our border are doing it with guns legally purchased in the US. If we think illegal immigrants are a problem, wait till they come armed.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It helps.

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  7. Ms. Holland,

    I really was trying to stay out of this, but I saw Paul Kanjorski’s name and well he was my Congressman . Trust me, Kanjorski is not as pure as the snow presently falling in my yard. He was the last Democrat I ever voted for. His support for the second amendment was the only reason . I abandoned him 2 elections ago.

    But to get back to the present topic. When the left was demonizing Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc.heated rhetoric was protected patriotic dissent. I remember them hoping for the guy Cheney accidentally shot to die so that Cheney could be charged with manslaughter.

    Now that Democrats have been on the receiving end and have been losing the public relations battle for the last year and a half, suddenly passionate dissent is evil. Suddenly political dissent is dangerous. Even though there is no evidence, the left is hinting, no saying that Limbaugh and Palin are to blame for the for the Tucson massacre.

    The traps the left has set are macabre and interesting. They are bellowing for the right to tone down it’s inflammatory free speech. Yet if the right agrees, then it will be admitting they are responsible for Jared Loughner .

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    • [demonizing Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc.heated rhetoric was protected patriotic dissent. ]

      You do remember, don’t you, that rhetoric began in ’02 when Bush started talking about invading Iraq? And lying about it. When we or you protest loudly about a pol’s actions, tax policy or ideology conflicts aren’t quite hte same as sending the army to war.

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      • You do remember, don’t you, that rhetoric began in ’02 when Bush started talking about invading Iraq? And lying about it. When we or you protest loudly about a pol’s actions, tax policy or ideology conflicts aren’t quite hte same as sending the army to war.

        Moe, you continue to make our case for us. When faced with condemning the “hate speech” directed at Bush et al, you defend it by claiming that they lied implying that such speech is justified. It would be one thing for you to list their “crimes” and then make a case that even though they did this and this and that, the speech is over the top. But you don’t.

        You defend the use of violent violent speech when it suits you and yours. You wanna restrict such freedom when it does NOT suit you.

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    • shortbuswonderkid

      But hold on one second. Dick Cheney is evil. Capital letter EVIL. He is a bad man. Bush was ignorant and is negligible, but Cheney is a downright rotten war criminal. If anyone deserves a tribunal, it is Dick Cheney.

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      • But hold on one second. Dick Cheney is evil. Capital letter EVIL. He is a bad man. Bush was ignorant and is negligible, but Cheney is a downright rotten war criminal. If anyone deserves a tribunal, it is Dick Cheney.

        Perfect!

        Free speech for you! Tyranny for those you disagree with!

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        • shortbuswonderkid

          Seriously, Cheney’s idea of free speech was under a waterboard, or is that your idea of free speech also? Evil is Evil however one wishes to call it.

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  8. Ms. Holland,

    I agree with pino. You have just muddied the waters of this topic. Which I believe was civilized debate. Not demonizing or dehumanizing your political opposition. We on the right feel just as strongly that Obama-Care is based on nothing but lies and will destroy our Country as you people on the left believed that the Iraq War was based on lies and would destroy the Country.

    But you are saying that your rhetoric was acceptable and our’s is not. You either believe in the first Amendment or you don’t.

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    • I’m sorry Alan – you misunderstand the objection to the war entirely. A war of agression intentionally kills people by dropping bombs on them and their homes and their families. Our objection to the war was that it was morally corrupt.

      So you think expanding health care to humans is hte same as intentionally killing them?

      Like

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