Heated Rhetoric is not Coming from the Fringe

January 12th, 2011 at 1:13 am | 4 Comments |

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Andrew Sullivan writes:

I was looking at our finalists in last year’s Malkin Award category. The Dish collects examples of extreme rhetoric on both sides, and the simple fact of the matter is that there’s far more on the right than left. More interesting is the theme on the right. Here are some finalists:

“If the [North Koreans] start anything, I say nuke ‘em. And not with just a few bombs,” – Glenn Reynolds.

“I’m not filling out this [census] form. I dare them to try and come throw me in jail. I dare them to. Pull out my wife’s shotgun and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door,” – CNN’s Erick Erickson.

“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed,” – South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, on people who receive government aid.

“[NPR executives] are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism,” – Roger Ailes.

Note that these are not fringe characters. Reynolds has a hugely popular blog, Erickson is cited constantly as a key GOP activist, Bauer is a lieutenant governor of a state and Roger Ailes all but runs the Republican party and its media mouthpiece, Fox News. All of them dehumanize their opponents – animals or Nazis – and the undercurrent of the threat of violence is always there.

To point this out is not partisan. I am not horrified by the rhetoric and love of violence on the far right because I have some attachment to the Democrats. I am horrified because it is horrifying, because for years now, this kind of thing has become commonplace at the very top of the conservative political apparatus, and because the invocation of violence in a political context is inherently corrosive of democratic values. When you add to this a party committed to the use of military force as almost a first option, and to torture as a legal method of interrogation, it is irresponsible not to worry about where this is headed.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • tommybones

    The violent and incendiary rhetoric from the left is extremely rare, while on the right it is firmly in the mainstream. The “fringe” on the right has taken control of the party. The right IS the fringe. That’s what you get when you spend several years inciting lunatics with hate-filled lies.

    The GOP courted these lunatics, and now the Frankenstein monster they created is ham-fisting it across the countryside. They’ve let the monster loose, and they no longer have a hold of the chains.

  • ggore

    The post is basically correct, some of the heated rhetoric is coming from the mainstream Republicans, and it is because they LOST the election in 2008 but refuse to accept that fact. The people at rallies carrying signs “We want our country back!” obviously did not vote for Obama, but the majority of people in the country DID; yet unlike in the past, they simply cannot or will not accept that fact and get on with their lives until the next election when they hopefully can vote for a winning candidate.

    The “birther” phenomenon is associated with this thinking, allowing these people an “out” for their feelings based on the fact Obama is black or whatever, and therefore, non-legitimate. It is sad, really, but is being fueled by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, et al, which is the really scary part. Their support for this viewpoint is a new development, coming from a 24/7/365 “news” source that is telling these people who voted for the losing side that they are being victimized by the winner of the election. The scariest part? It is working!

  • Chris Balsz

    Andrew Sullivan is not a US citizen. If he doesn’t like this country’s politics he can go home. I don’t vote in British elections and I only comment on their politics as a warning to what could happen here. I don’t go over there and lecture them about failing “democratic values”. It would “corrode democratic values” to silence US voters because their attitudes don’t meet some international standard.

    Speaking of commonplace themes, Andrew Sullivan is so caught up by the idea that the right-wing promotes violence in American politics, that he doesn’t realize that NONE OF HIS EXAMPLES INVOLVE VIOLENCE IN AMERICAN POLITICS. None of them imply a threat to political opponents or suggest the US government has got to go.

  • ejreed

    In mostly their own words…
    Tucson Shooting Puts Spotlight on Tea Party Rhetoric
    Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin listed Gabrielle Giffords’s Arizona congressional seat among top “targets” in the 2010 midterm elections. The weekend’s shooting has raised concerns over US gun laws and the heated nature of political rhetoric. http://www.newslook.com/videos/281220-tucson-shooting-puts-spotlight-on-tea-party-rhetoric?autoplay=true