What I Am Learning

As I read the responses to the tragic assassination attempt in Arizona, one of the biggest things that I am learning is how very fragile the so-called pundits of the right-wing are.  I mean fragile in the sense that any call to really examine what happened and to open to the possibility that rhetoric is important … is bringing wails and squeals of “Don’t blame me”  and “Liberals aren’t being fair” from leading lights like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich.

I feel like I am hearing 6-year-olds saying, “I didn’t do it, Mommy … and THEY are being mean to me!”

As I hear it, people are angry and looking for answers .. and what folks are asking for is honest debate … but for Rush, apparently what it comes down to, in the end, is his livelihood.  As he sums it up (emphasis mine) …

“They will use anyone,” Limbaugh said of the left. “They will use any event. They will take what is a genuine tragedy and without any evidence whatsoever attempt to massage it for their own political benefit. And they can’t do it by touting their ideas. They can’t do it by explaining the virtue of their beliefs. So what do they have to do? They have to impugn, destroy get rid of, regulate out of business, their political opponent in media if they have a chance.

So, Rush and Newt, really … it isn’t about you (believe it ot not).  This is about our country and about how we see one another and how we treat one another … and the fact that hate speech may, just possibly, sometimes, maybe … lead to hateful acts.  I undestand that you don’t want to see or admit a possible connection.  I understand that self examination on this subject could be really, really painful.  And I understand that it’s highly unlikely that any or you are going to man up about this.

Your true colors are showing … and here’s a small sampling of the shades and hues I’m talking about (taken from William Rivers Pitt’s The Wrath of Fools:  An Open Letter to the Far Right).  No wonder you don’t want to really look at this …

“I tell people don’t kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus – living fossils – so we will never forget what these people stood for.”

– Rush Limbaugh, Denver Post, 12-29-95

“Get rid of the guy. Impeach him, censure him, assassinate him.”

– Rep. James Hansen (R-UT), talking about President Clinton

“We’re going to keep building the party until we’re hunting Democrats with dogs.”

– Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), Mother Jones, 08-95

“My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building.”

– Ann Coulter, New York Observer, 08-26-02

“We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors.”

– Ann Coulter, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, 02-26-02

“Chelsea is a Clinton. She bears the taint; and though not prosecutable in law, in custom and nature the taint cannot be ignored. All the great despotisms of the past – I’m not arguing for despotism as a principle, but they sure knew how to deal with potential trouble – recognized that the families of objectionable citizens were a continuing threat. In Stalin’s penal code it was a crime to be the wife or child of an ‘enemy of the people.’ The Nazis used the same principle, which they called Sippenhaft, ‘clan liability.’ In Imperial China, enemies of the state were punished ‘to the ninth degree’: that is, everyone in the offender’s own generation would be killed and everyone related via four generations up, to the great-great-grandparents, and four generations down, to the great-great-grandchildren, would also be killed.”

– John Derbyshire, National Review, 02-15-01

“Two things made this country great: White men & Christianity. The degree these two have diminished is in direct proportion to the corruption and fall of the nation. Every problem that has arisen (sic) can be directly traced back to our departure from God’s Law and the disenfranchisement of White men.”

– State Rep. Don Davis (R-NC), emailed to every member of the North Carolina House and Senate, reported by the Fayetteville Observer, 08-22-01

Teapartiers, GOPers … forget these dudes – they are not concerned about you or me or the USA … they are just concerned about power and money.

Can we talk?

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2 Responses to What I Am Learning

  1. Thanks for your comments, Alice. And I couldn’t agree more, on the mental health front. To at once humanize and strengthen the system would be a wonderful accomplishment. Too often we think of the two as separate … or diverging.

    The only other thing I would add is gun control … or at the very least, obscene-amounts-of-ammunition control.



  2. Alice says:

    Sarcastic half truths, assaultive words, hate speech, nasty insinuations, cruel lies, a pervasive gotcha mentality: all common fare from so many of our political doers and shakers. We live in an age where substantive debate plays a muted second fiddle to the language of spin. It leaves me reeling and dizzy. Yes, yes, yes–this coarse and crass atmosphere surrounding us carries a host of sorry consequences. And so, too, does an underfunded and unsupported mental health system. The Tucson shooter was so obviously mentally ill. Were there were any attempts to protect this young man from the twisted thinking that pushed him to commit these horrible acts? I hope the national dialogue raised by this awful event doesn’t neglect the issue of mental health care in our country and considers how to humanize and strengthen it so it can reach those who so desperately need attention and help.


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