Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Tears of a Clown

Glen Beck doing what he does best

Well, I've waited a while for the dust to settle from the tragic shootings of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a Federal Judge and a number of civilians in Arizona.
In weighing the controversy surrounding the issue, I've had to take a hard look at the kind of political language I myself have used in the past, and how I should approach similar topics in the future. Perhaps someone can pick a bone with some of my past political posts, but I feel I have been fairly reasonable and either try to state historical fact or use humor to try to get my point across. Sure, I've been known to rant.
But one thing is clear. The far right wing of American political commentary has been over the top since the Clinton administration and parallels the rhetoric that resulted in similar tragic shootings in the 1960's.

Look Familiar?

This is a poster that was distributed by the thousands before John Kennedy made his fateful trip to Dallas. The funding for this was by wealthy Texas oilmen like the Hunt brothers. The same mechanism is at work in today's media. Fox news lost millions and millions of dollars for the first five-or-so years they were in operation. They loose money on Glen Beck's show right now. But the propaganda is so necessary to further the right wing's agenda that they run the show even as advertisers drop Beck daily.
Posters like the one above are the mainstay of "Tea Party" rallies, with pictures of President Obama as a "witch doctor" and worse.
Make no mistake; the progressive political leadership of the 1960's was killed off. John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King - powerful progressive voices silenced. That power vacuum drew political dialogue to the right with the scandals of Watergate, Iran-Contra, the savings and loan bank scandal, the lies leading up to the Iraq war, and the deregulation that brought us the 2008 bank crash and near-depression.
The violent talk during the health care debates featured threats and guns in public view, clearly intended to intimidate progressives, the Democratic Party, and the Obama administration.
Jared Lee Loughner and Glen Beck

So now we have an anti-government "lone nut", Jared Lee Loughner, that just shot up the crowd at a Democratic Congresswoman's public meeting. Sure, the guy had serious mental problems. But with millions of hours of talk radio screaming against health care legislation, environmental protection and the Obama administration, it's no small wonder that some horrible event like this was bound to happen.
Here's a brief example from an article by William Rivers Pitt:

"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
Weather they are talking in racist code like Rush Limbaugh, or Biblical code like Sarah Palin and Glen Beck, or wrong facts and innuendo like Fox "News", the message might be incorrect but is still propagated to steer American political discourse into the hands of huge multi-national corporations.

Glen Beck's image was used here because he is simply the most outrageous propagandist of this decade, perhaps surpassing Rush Limbaugh. Here's a link to some profile information about Beck from journalist Dana Milbank, in his book "The Tears of a Clown".

Let's take a deep breath and hope for some civility...



Sean C. Ledig said...

Great post! Testify, Brother Rat!

Adrian said...

Great post! Testify! Indeed!

B said...

Ha! My wife loved this one -- esp the Beck-Loughner comparison.

"Let's take a deep breath and hope for some civility..."

A friend of mine often says this:

"Shit in one hand and hope in the other. See which one fills up first."

Nick said...

Really!? I admit I do not agree with everything said by the right and I am pretty firmly planted mid-right field. Regardless of which side we fall tho, on no one should tolerate racism or suggestions of murder on either side. AND, I have heard it from both sides plenty of times. Enough to know that pointing fingers at the right is not fair or just when the left is equally at fault.

Reagan getting shot back in 1981 is a good example of a someone professing to be left wing trying to go WAY too far with his ideals too. Despite this I do not hold all of the left in contempt due to the actions of this guy either.

Propaganda is spewed out by both sides. To say that anyone deserves to die for their political leanings is silly. Also, to compare someone like Glen Beck who may or may not be wrong on his views of the world to a murderer is a LOT extreme.

Words are powerful and people like Beck and Pelosi both need to watch what they say a bit closer if they are going to not incite people to these ridiculous acts. Although I have to say, I am not certain you can accurately claim that link either.

Loughner was/is a sociopath. By all accounts the discussion that precipitated this event took place in a conversation he had with the Congressperson three years ago. Which might very well mean that this event may have had little or nothing to do with the current political climate.

It is possible to find plenty of quotes from the left that parody the quotes you have posted too. I did one search and found a great many quotes. Here are the first three I found:

■ “I’m just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That’s a fact.” — Host Bill Maher on his HBO show Real Time, March 2, 2007, discussing how a few commenters at a left-wing blog were upset that an attempt to kill Vice President Cheney in Afghanistan had failed.

■ “Earlier today, a rental truck carried a half a million ballots from Palm Beach to the Florida Supreme Court there in Tallahassee. CNN had live helicopter coverage from the truck making its way up the Florida highway, and for a few brief moments, America held the hope that O.J. Simpson had murdered Katherine Harris.” — Bill Maher on ABC’s Politically Incorrect, November 30, 2000.

■ Host Tina Gulland: “I don’t think I have any Jesse Helms defenders here. Nina?”
NPR’s Nina Totenberg: “Not me. I think he ought to be worried about what’s going on in the Good Lord’s mind, because if there is retributive justice, he’ll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it.” — Exchange on the July 8, 1995 Inside Washington, after Helms said the government spends too much on AIDS.

Ridiculous! Absurd! And for people to carelessly throw violence around as a solution to their political frustrations is childish and irresponsible. We as martial artists should understand that better than most.

Dojo Rat said...

I never saw Bill Mahr or Nina Totenberg openly carry guns to a health care bill debate where the President was speaking.
Bill Mahr does not call himself a "journalist or newsman".
Threats against Obama are up 300% over previous presidents.

But your point is taken, I appreciate what you say, but historically the rhetoric has never been more extreme.

Sean C. Ledig said...

Amen, DR.

It's the right-wing that carried their threats into action. And there are far, far more of them that use violent rhetoric than anyone on the Democratic side.

The only reason for carrying guns to the town meetings was to intimidate opponents. The right to keep and bear arms was not in any danger. Even those who were traditionally not friendly to RKBA, like Barack Obama, refused to make an issue of it because it's a fight they can't win on the national stage.

The perception that all Democrats are anti-gun cost helped cost them the congress in 1994 and created a close race for the White House in 2000. Pardon the pun, but any politician with even the slightest ambition for the presidency stayed the hell away from gun control. Others, like Mitt Romney, backed away from their previous support for gun control.

I'm Mr. 2nd Amendment. If I had any reason to think the Democrats were going to make gun control an issue, I would have been carrying my gun to those town meetings, also.

And as I predicted in August 2009 (see link) no good would come of carrying weapons to the town hall meetings. All it would take is one accident or one alleged "lone nut" and the ball would start rolling again on gun control.


Sure enough, ever since Giffords was attacked, the politicians and pundits who supported gun control, like Carolyn McCarthy, are coming out again and using this event for political gain.

Dojo Rat said...

Good article, well written at your link. The video is no longer available, but that pic of the Black Panthers is priceless and historic...

Man of the West said...

Oh, I don't know.

Personally, I can't help but think that when you have arrived at the point where you're willing to blame right-wing propaganda for inciting a communist to assassinate a liberal president, you may just possibly have arrived at the point where your objectivity is suspect.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

I disagree, I believe Dojo Rats' objectivity is spot-on. The examples given were, in fact ACCURATE and verifiable. Pointing a finger at the right an yelling "Asshole" is no different than pointing at a burning building and yelling "Fire!"

I seriously don't understand the right...You people have access to 100 different weather channels all forecasting heavy showers, you waltz outside, get soaked to the gills and suddenly scream "Oh shit...IT'S RAINING!"

There are consequences and backlash to every political move, whether it's made by a Republican or Democrat. The political vacuum Dojo Rat describes in the early part of the post is indeed real, and the backlash we suffered for it is largely swept under the rug with a condescending "Let's not dwell on the past" from the right.

To me, the right has always been the same revolving door policy of smiling in your face while picking your pocket. Now, even the smile is gone, like they know they don't have to pull out all the stops to fool us. And to be honest, they're mostly right.

They are doing what the right always does in situations such as the Tuscon massacre: Running hell-for-leather away from anything that looks like responsibility. I can always count on the Republicans to pass that buck like a star quarterback at the Super Bowl.

The mindless drones and off-shoots of the right (such as the tea party) have become deafening in their chants of finger pointing, name dropping and fear mongering, but it always boils down to the same old song:

Worshiping Impotence.

I may be a touch egalitarian, but most of you are living in a goddam fantasy world.

It's like none of you care how much of your money goes to foreign oil. You don't stop and think that the taxes you get constantly raised on aren't equally divided amongst those who make thousands of dollars a month and the checkout girl at Target.

No one gives a shit about the fact that I (and many of you as well) can't afford health care here in America, and now are forced to go overseas to get even the simplest of operations done...For a FRACTION of the cost. I'm going to India to get my disc herniation removed, after spending my entire savings here in America on doctors that either don't care or have their hands tied by the HMO's. But by all means, let's keep Obamacare out of the running, we wouldn't want our healthcare to be as well run as Sweden's, or England's. Say what you want about their countries, at least their citizens get taken care of.

It's enough to make me wonder if I'm living on the right planet sometimes.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

Addendum to the above post: If I sound jaded, it's because I am.

Nick Lowry said...

Amen brother

Nick Lowry said...

Amen brother!