Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rhetoric redux

There are still today quite a number of blog posts decrying the political atmosphere they say- while admitting there's no evidence of it- contributed to the mass murder in Arizona. The latest angle, echoed in at least two UU blogs, ( Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell and RevThom ) concerns campaign imagery. Says Rev. Thom, "Giffords’ opponent in the last November’s midterm election traded in disturbing imagery. His campaign photos depicted him dressed in camouflage and holding an assault rifle." But when I Googled for more such campaign pictures, I found this...

Yes, that's Representative Giffords holding an assault rifle. And not just any assault rifle, but a semiautomatic version of the famous Soviet AK47.

Look people, as I noted in my previous post, nobody has an exclusive on over the top rhetoric. (Note that the phrase "Over the top" is of military origin, from WWI) Now, many have said that the right does so much more of it that the left's few examples hardly count, and to you I say, with feeling, Bullshit.
Perhaps it's because I'm older than many of my fellow bloggers; born in the 50s, I grew up in the 60s... my first memories of political violence was the assassination of JFK- by a communist. I remember the SDS and the SLA, who considered murder, bombs, and bank robbery political acts. I remember Bernadine Dhorn and the Weathermen, and their bombs. I remember vandalism at college campuses, the destruction of ROTC classrooms, and attacks on draft centers. I remember mass rioting, cities all across America burning. I remember the 68 Democratic Convention devolving into shouting inside and rioting outside. Maybe you don't remember, but what got Nixon elected- despite the fact that even a lot of Republicans thought he was a pig- was that the nation was sick of the hooliganism of the left. So I repeat- nobody has any room pointing fingers on political rhetoric.

And worse, it's insane to ascribe reasons to irrationality. From William McKinley to Harvey Milk, from Reagan to Giffords, none of their actual or attempted assassins have had a coherent political philosophy. If you wanted to ban those things that are proven to incite political assassination, you'd have to ban Twinkies and Jodie Foster movies. Call for the moderation of political rhetoric all you want- I did plenty of it in the last few election cycles. But pretending that standard political phrases and/or tactics that have been around for decades or centuries are newly minted, violent, or racist hate speech is indulging in the demonization of your enemies (who should be your loyal opposition), not warning against it.

1 comment:

Bill Baar said...

Liberalism's in a real crisis. That's what were seeing. Liberals in Washington over-the-top, and this Sheriff who wasn't exactly on top of his job over-the-top, but as long as one avoids Krugman and MSNBC I'd say political dialogue in the US better than I recall from the 60s.