“Many of us have worried that the heated, apocalyptic rhetoric of the anti-Obama forces might spill over at some point into violence in the hands of individuals prone to lashing out. We now have what seems to be a clear instance of that and three dead police officers. One wonders whether Fox News or the Second Amendment fanatics will chill it out a little. And then one realizes who we're talking about.”The mental imprudence of that statement says a lot about Sullivan’s reasoning process, but Andrew’s defenders can take comfort in the fact that he wasn’t as contemptible as some lefty bloggers at the Daily Kos. Dan Houle wrote and was then echoed by Markos Moulitas:
“With no Veep to shoot people, folks are taking things into their own hands.”Classy guys. From what we can gather, the gunmen who killed the Pittsburgh officers was a nutcase who believed Obama was out to ban guns, that the Jews controlled the country, and other various conspiracy theroies. And since I have no intention of defending Glenn Beck; the man is an utter buffoon. But to say that some right wing radio hosts are responsible for this murder’s actions is up there with those who believe Lovelle Mixon went on his homicidal rampage because he couldn’t find a job; or because the police in Oakland don’t have a good reputation with some of the city’s residents. Mixon was a rapist, a thug, and a murder: to blame his actions on variables faced by countless other individuals that don’t produce the same disgusting result should discredit such an asinine theory. The same is true of this nutcase in Pittsburgh.
How about the man who killed his five children in Washington this weekend, because he was apparently angry that his wife was leaving him: is it fair to say liberals and feminists who have pushed for equal rights for women in martial relationships are responsible for this man’s actions? Or can we, as a reasonable adult society, recognize that many people go through break-ups and don’t murder their children, and that giving any credence to the idea that anyone other than those directly responsible for such vile actions are to blame is wrong.
Nor am I carrying water for the Right in America: portions of the Right have shown their true paranoid colors as of late (with talk of Obama concentration camps being built and the like), but murders happen regardless of the administration in office or what is being said about said executive in the press, so let’s drop the idea that these crimes are anything but cowardly disgusting crimes committed by sick and terrible people.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t assail and address outlandish paranoia from both right and left wing pundits; lord knows I have spent a great deal of time addressing nonsensical arguments made on the right and left. But let’s also recognize that these cranks are not gods that control the minds of men.
Nor am I arguing that cultural norms and media narratives can not slowly legitimize criminals or vigilantes, and fuel their actions. History has shown that the furthering of conspiracies and justifying violence can have disastrous and bloody consequences. But as Noel Sheppard writes, “when an unstable, highly-armed, recently laid off guy who was kicked out of the marines for throwing a food tray at his drill sergeant gets into a fight with his mother and shoots three police officers, it is absolutely irresponsible for people to blame it on anyone BUT the man pulling the trigger.”
More importantly, moderate Republicans and conservatives need to put a large chasm between themselves and individuals who peddle fringe nonsense. David Horowitz has recognized the irrational obsession that has developed with some right wing figures over the Obama administration, and how it is starting to look a bit like the Bush years, where all civility and intellect were discarded by those only interested in vilifying a sitting president. He writes:
”ODS [Obama Derangement Syndrome] refers to the wildly overstated views of the president as a demonic and even dictatorial figure, sometimes even as the Manchurian candidate of the Osama bin Laden crowd. The other night I hung up on a rightwing talk show I was being interviewed on when the hosts insisted on returning to Obama as a "foreign occupier." This goes to the heart of the ODS problem which is a refusal to accept that Obama won the election -- creating an exact parallel with those Democrats who refused to accept George Bush as their president and justified this by absurdly comparing him to Hitler or claiming that he deceived Democrats into voting for a war they subsequently betrayed. Obama got 63 million votes. Calling him a foreign occupier is tantamount to saying 63 million Americans are idiots and their votes mean nothing. This is not a rejection of Obama anymore than the attacks on Bush were a rejection him. They are a rejection of democracy, no conservative should be party to that.”Well said.