I’ve been meaning to do several posts: one on the shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, one on the disturbing rhetoric of violence and death that so obsesses the neocons, and an article in the National Review that spews hate even while it’s preaching tolerance.
A post on Dawg’s Blawg made me realize these things aren’t separate issues at all. They’re all tied together into one horrible cult of death. Forget the right-wing noise machine: they’re not just noise. They haven’t been since they got their bloody hands all over the federal government.
Far too many on the Right (with a few honourable exceptions) are pathologically obsessed with death, with hurting and killing other people. Whether it’s capital punishment, endless wars, waterboarding,
easy access to handguns, knee-jerk defences of police brutality and sadistic, racist southern sheriffs, or shooting abortion doctors, they lap it up and howl for more. And in the US they take it that extra mile: they would literally rather have their opponents tortured and/or killed than discuss the issues.
The leading lights of the liberal movement call for cooperation, toleration, and positive solutions to problems. They reach for science, reason, and diplomacy. The right reaches for weapons.
This evening we learn from the Knoxville News that officers entering the home of murder Jim Adkisson “found Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder by radio talk show host Michael Savage, Let Freedom Ring by talk show host Sean Hannity, and The O’Reilly Factor, by television talk show host Bill O’Reilly.”
The presence of somebody’s books in a mentally disturbed person’s home does not make them accessories to a killing. But right-wing rhetoric toward liberals and humanists like those who attended the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church has been exceptionally violent for years. Liberal groups are often called “Nazi” or “Nazi-like” by O’Reilly (he even said that about our own Arianna Huffington). Savage says he’d “hang every lawyer” who tried to establish constitutional rights for Guantanamo prisoners, describes Obama as an “Afro-Leninist,” and said the folks at Media Matters were “brownshirts.” He describes Rep. Wexler as a “Nazi” and calls Nancy Pelosi a “Mussolini.”
As for Hannity, he said that “there are things in life worth fighting and dying for and one of ’em is making sure Nancy Pelosi doesn’t become the speaker (of the House).” Think about it: “worth fighting and dying for.”
And that’s just a sampler.
Ann Coulter says liberals should be beaten with baseball bats and tried for treason (she’s not clear about the order in which these events are to take place.) Dick Morris says they’re “traitors” who should be decapitated.
You don’t hear that from the left. There may be a few isolated instances, but it’s not our heroes, not our talk show hosts and writers and opinion-makers, certainly not our political leaders, who call for the deaths anyone and everyone who has the audacity to hold a contrary opinion. When have you heard of a Democratic presidential candidate singing about bombing Iran? Bet you a dollar you can’t name an instance.
It fascinates and horrifies me, this fixation on violence from the very same people who claim the upper hand on morality. They bitch about violence in movies and video games, wring their sweaty hands and try to pass legislation “to protect the children,” and yet their political speech is filled with more vivid violence than you’ll ever find in Grand Theft Auto. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?
They bleat endlessly about the sanctity of human life, then murder abortion doctors, leave unwanted children to languish in abuse, filth, and poverty, and urge the death penalty on the retarded and the young. This tells me that their concern for fetuses has nothing at all to do with human life, and everything to do with controlling women. Everything they do is about control. And if a control freak can’t manipulate people with superior arguments and persuasion, well, violence controls too, right?
So they resort to fear. They call for the deaths of their opponents because they can’t defeat the living. They want power and authority. There’s no greater power and authority than that which comes from holding a person’s life in your hands. Just ask any serial killer.
Even when their hearts are superficially in the right place, the disturbing fixation on violence and death is manifestly present. Ed Brayton at Dispatches From The Culture Wars found a right-winger who wants to do away with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and on the surface it seems like this is a person with his head screwed on straight:
Here’s a shock: Deroy Murdock, a contributing editor to the National Review Online, has come out strongly in favor of allowing gays to serve openly in the military. It’s quite a powerful essay, in fact. He contrasts the fact that the Pentagon is continually lowering standards and granting exceptions to get people with violent felony convictions on their record into the military while throwing out gay soldiers with impeccable service records and badly needed skills:
Between 2006 and 2007, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently revealed, convicted felons accepted by the Marine Corps rose 68 percent, from 208 to 350. Equivalent Army admissions rocketed 105 percent, from 249 to 511. Between 2003 and 2006, U.C. Santa Barbara’s Michael D. Palm Center calculates, “106,768 individuals with serious criminal histories were admitted” to the armed forces.
Last year, the Army gave moral waivers to 106 applicants convicted of burglary, 15 of felonious break-ins, 11 of grand-theft-auto, and eight of arson. It also admitted five rape/sexual-assault convicts, two felony child molesters, two manslaughter convicts, and two felons condemned for “terrorist threats including bomb threats.”
“The Army seems to be lowering standards in training to accommodate lower-quality recruits,” RAND Corporation researcher Beth Asch observed at a May 12 Heritage Foundation defense-policy seminar in Colorado Springs.
Conversely, expelled military personnel include Arabic linguists and intelligence specialists who help crush America’s foes in the War on Terror. “Don’t Ask” has ousted at least 58 soldiers who speak Arabic, 50 Korean, 42 Russian, 20 Chinese, nine Farsi, and eight Serbo-Croatian — all trained at the prestigious Defense Language Institute. Al-Qaeda intercepts need translation, and Uncle Sam may need people who can walk around Tehran with open ears. Yet these dedicated gay citizens now are ex-GIs.
Ye gods, that almost sounds sane, and he’s talking about teh gays!!11!!1! Aside from that little “crush America’s foes in the War on Terror” screed, we could be talking to an ordinary, rational, reasonable human being.
By now you’re asking, “What’s the catch?” So glad you asked. It doesn’t take long before his true conservative colors seep through like bloodstains:
“Don’t Ask” should yield to equality: Sexual orientation should be irrelevant while inappropriate sexual conduct — gay, straight, or otherwise — should be punished. Our enemies are Islamofascists who murder Americans, not gay patriots who unravel terrorist plots and introduce jihadists to Allah.
Uh-huh. There it is, the real reason for this call for “equality.” He wants teh gays to go after “those murdering Islamofascists” and kill them. As long as they’re killing Mooslims and not having sex (you noticed that little “inappropriate sexual conduct” caveat, I trust, and realized that applies to any sort of sex a gay person might engage in), gays are okay by him.
We’re right back to the death machine again.
Let’s sum up the right-wing philosophy: Anyone who disagrees with their politics is a traitor and should suffer and die. Anyone with an alternative lifestyle is a moral leper and should suffer and die, unless that person happens to be useful to the military, in which case they can live as long as they’re killing America’s enemies. America shouldn’t negotiate with other countries: other countries should do what we say or die. Religious dissenters should suffer and die. People who mistreat a communion wafer should suffer and die. And on and on.
But they won’t do the killing and torturing themselves. Oh, no. They have people for that. After all, why get your hands dirty with blood and gore when it’s so much cleaner to get others to do it for you?
Fuckwits this obsessed with killing absolutely anyone and everyone they don’t like shouldn’t be in the mainstream. They shouldn’t be a part of our politics, government, or media. They shouldn’t be in any position where they can encourage or order others to carry out their fantasies of death and mayhem. They truly should be on the lunatic fringe, not front-and-center. Why the fuck have we tolerated these assholes? Why have we allowed dangerous infants to play with the adults?
It’s time we shoved them out of power. Time we isolate and contain them.
But I won’t use their rhetoric. I’m old enough and wise enough to know that death is not the answer.
Ridicule is. Shame is. Information is.
Show people how ridiculous these lackwits are.
Show those who admire and respect them realize that they should actually be ashamed.
And never, ever relent on the facts. We can start with the fact that it’s not McCain and Bush’s policies of belligerence, so enthusiastically cheered by the bloodthirsty right, that work to keep America safe. If they were enough, Bush & Cronies wouldn’t be dashing to embrace Obama’s policies of direct talks and troop withdrawls.
Let’s shut the right-wing death machine down before they get us all killed.