Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Tucson Tragedy
Where do we go from here?

The far right has been trying to inoculate itself against any criticism of its role in stirring up anger and hatred to unprecedented levels in the past 20 years. We've all seen the rallies with nasty signs, the faces contorted in anger, the display of weapons, and we've heard the vitriolic spew from Tea Partiers and others on the far right who claim Democrats are destroying America. The fires of hatred are being stoked daily by far right talking heads on radio and television, the blogosphere and through chain emails.

Some on the Left did speculate on the motivations of the Tucson murderer without any evidence whatsoever, except for the fact that the intended victim was a Democrat and a supporter of immigration reform. That was wrong, but it was also somewhat understandable given the way cable news operates after a breaking story of such magnitude.

However the Right has seized upon this as an excuse to claim that they were being victimized and are still being victimized whenever anyone says anything about the unpleasant tenor of political debate. They are trying to stifle any discussion of the desirability of perhaps dialing it back some. They don't want anyone talking about "Don't retreat, reload" or "Second Amendment remedies" or "We came unarmed, this time" and the like so they have been using their favorite tactics in times like this:

1. Deny that words have consequences -- as if the entire advertising
industry has been wasting its money.

 2. Claim equivalency (falsely) by trotting out a few examples of
intemperate speech by the Left -- as if there was any comparison between
a few (or even a lot of) remarks that the Left shouldn't have made and
the tsunami of right wing hate speech that washes over America every
single day.

3. Claim they are being victimized by the Left and their allies in the
mainstream media

The Right's political strategy has always been quite clear:

Keep Americans fearful and:
They will vote for Republicans.
They will support tax breaks for business and the rich
They will support more funding for the military-industrial complex
They will support wars of aggression
They will support torture and other violations of human rights
They will support more cops, more prisons, more domestic spying...

Because the Right benefits so much from hateful speech and the anger it stokes, they will always shout down any attempt to discuss its negative consequences and they will divert attention with false equivalency arguments. However this time they may be going too far. Fox News and the rest of the far right propaganda machine has been pumping out a steady stream of talking points of denials, false equivalency arguments, and victimization claims, and those talking points have been reverberating in the echo chamber to a degree that is almost unprecedented. This gross overreaction may well be what undermines the entire effort. The "Silent Majority" (to steal a phrase) is sick of the hateful speech and frightened by the acts of violence, and they're not buying the arguments put forward by the far right propaganda machine and its echo chamber.

Another blog post by Ken Padgett
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