Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Enough Is Enough

Sometimes I have to write a whole long post to figure out how to say the same thing more briefly. So here is what I was driving at. The trouble isn't the poisoned climate of "violent" discourse that the Right has created in the US, it's the history of overt violence by the Right that the discourse feeds on. If someone playfully feints a punch at you, and you've been beaten up before (let alone by that same person), it's not the feint that is the problem, it's the previous beatings.

Of course, violence doesn't come out of nowhere, much as the Right would like you think so. It helps to have a gun culture, a culture of racism, a culture of vengeance and blood-feud. And that describes a lot of the United States of America. (I'm reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for the first time since I was a kid, and I'm struck by how how much of the folkways Twain describes are still with us ... but more on that some other time.) As FAIR put it, there are a hell of a lot of lone nuts out there, and many of them aren't "lone": they're talking to each other, connected by a shared taste in media and a fondness for lethal hardware. As Gary Younge put it (via) in the Guardian:
Fights outside town hall meetings, guns outside rallies, Facebook pages calling for assassinations, discussions about the most propitious moment for armed insurrection. In late October I asked a man in the quaint town of Salida, Colorado, if President Barack Obama had done anything worthwhile. "Well he's increased the guns and ammunitions industry exponentially," he said. "My friends are stockpiling."
Sooner or later some of those guns will go off, and they've been doing just that.

I said before that, like any bunch of rambunctious children, the Right's spokespeople were shocked and (briefly) silenced when someone actually got hurt and lots of media coverage ensued. At the very least, the right-wing frothers who have free rein to puke up their bile on cable networks, talk radio, and other commercial media, should acknowledge publicly that all their Second-Amendment, Tree of Liberty, Reload rhetoric, and all the strutting around with guns (I don't think you have to be a Freudian to see the symbolism there) was just childish swagger to make them feel tough, to give them a giddy feeling of connection with people in the past who, for all their faults, put their lives on the line for what they wanted to achieve. You know: Our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor? That would describe people who braved state violence at the national political conventions in 2008 (and 2004, and 2000, and ...), or at various international business gatherings in Philadelphia, Toronto, Seattle, and just about everywhere else, but not the Tea Party groups. Of course, in order to pledge your sacred honor, you have to have some honor in the first place.

The sheer bloodiness of the Tucson shootings, including the killing of a little girl born on the holy day of September 11, 2001, may have something to do with why the incident has generated a national wave of handwringing, when so many other incidents have not. Admittedly the corporate media and President Obama aren't going to have much useful to say about it, but it's good that the Right has been put on the defensive. Good. Keep them there.