I find it totally unacceptable the way some Democrats, liberal columnists, new media, and leftwing bloggers are screaming about "violent political movements in America" and branding the Tea Party movement as "a terrorist movement." (I'm alarmed to see there are already um...six...tacks in the "interactive map of U.S. political violence". These people should study the rest of the world the way I do for a living.)
The New York Times has led the pack on the incitement, with Frank Rich ranting about "The Axis of the Obsessed and Deranged" -- the most recommended article on the times currently -- invoking both the Nazis and Reagan's "Axis of Evil" with the use of the word "Axis". There's been scarifying article after scarifying article in the Times and other papers where hundreds of enraged and hysterical comments have been allowed to collect in outrageous indignation when other articles don't even get comments opened -- all to portray the conservative movements and any criticism or opposition to Obama in the worst possible light as really scary stuff. I was glad to finally find some pushback on Rich from two conservative lawyers on Powerline -- you might not agree with their politics, but you can't argue that their opposition to Rich's screed is reasoned and fact-based -- just the sort of thing that should have appeared in the Times in the first place.
But that's sedate compared to Twitter and the blogosphere where you get people branding all teabaggers, as they call them to give them a sexually perjorative tag (say, that Wikipedia page on that term is NSFW!) as terrorists, and not even grasping the difference between terrorism and political violence, some of which can be orchestrated, and some of which is random.
I was horrified to hear that Louise Slaughter's window got a rock thrown through it and she had nasty threatening phone calls. She's a Democrat from New York State, and represents upstate, and as it happened by coincidence, years ago I was in elementary school with one of her daughters. So the thought of a PTA mom and neighbour getting a rock thrown at her for doing her job really hits home. I share some, but not all of her political viewpoints and would likely vote for her if I still lived in that area. I am not in the Republican Party, not in the Tea Bag movement, and voted for Obama, and I think it's right and proper for people who *are* leaders of the conservative movements and formal Republic party to condemn the violence. And they have done so -- although it's never enough for Huffpo.
But wait a minute. What's going on now is that there is a tidal wave of hysteria claiming that "those losers who had to turn to guns and religion due to their loser status" (remember when Obama said that?) are all that make up the Teabaggers, and that they are a violent, hate-inciting movement that is responsible for all these acts and approves them. Yet there is hardly any evidence for that, and making the claim, from the isolated liberal sanctuaries of New York and San Francisco, is to be utterly out of touch with America. TONS of people are not happy with the health care bill passing. LOADS of people who voted for Obama are *angry*. LOTS of people turned tea-bag in Massachusetts enough to vote in a Republican to replace the iconic liberal Ted Kennedy. You can't say all those soccer moms and insurance salesmen dads are throwing rocks in windows or even golf-clapping those who are.
The problem with the left is that they got all hysterical even at some people raising their voices at townhall meetings -- they had never seen *their own tactics used on themselves* (the famous "Saul Alinsky" tactics).
Did you know there was a member of congress who had a rifle shot through his office window this week? He is Republican, and also happens to be Jewish. Did you read about that in your twitter feed? Eric Cantor is absolutely right in calling on Democrats to stop fanning the flames, because they only incite more hatred. Naturally the Daily Kos is trying to spin this away now. So, Daily Kos has proof that every incident raised by the Democrats isn't random, either?
I find in Second Life, on Twitter, on Facebook, there's also a lot of muddle and just outright stupidity about all this because people just don't have inquisitive minds, unless of course it's their relentless pursuit of the "gotcha" and the "exposure of hyprokisy" -- which is about all that passes for debate with most SL types. Cyndy Ecksol, for example, questions my questioning of the hysteria, which I see being whipped up by liberal tech journo Mitch Wagner. She confronts me and cites cases of rocks through windows. Isn't that terrorism?
Of course not. Do people really have that poor a grip on facts and reality? Terrorism is violence aimed for political (or one can argue, social or religious) reasons that directly target civilians *not* related to the terrorist's actual beef. For example, let's say he's angry at the government of Israel. He targets not only Israeli civilians, who may or may not agree with their government, but also people in the U.S., who may or may not agree with U.S. foreign policy. That's what terrorism *is* -- random but direct murder or mayhem designed to instill fear in people so that they will do anything to stop it -- so that they become a leverage, an instrument of pressure on the government that has the policy the terrorist doesn't like. A terrorist just permits violence for violence's sake to sow confusion and chaos, "the propaganda of the deed".
A rock-thrower who lobs a rock into a congress person's office is targeting the actual official he has a beef with. He's not blowing up a bomb or targeting random civilians.
We've had some very serious post-911 terrorist acts that the news media has had a real hard time calling a terrorist act, suffused as it is with a kind of unwillingness to be seen as politically incorrect and suspecting of any Muslims, even though there are a minority of radical Muslims who in fact do plan and execute violent acts. They seem unable to separate the need for tolerance of all Muslims and civil rights for all with also a robust condemnation of violent Muslims when they do in fact commit violence. So you get a case like Fort Hood, planned, executed, deliberate terrorism against a military building with soldiers in it plotted for maximum deaths, and you get too many people saying that this is a psychiatric and not an international terrorism case.
You get people who worked with the perpetrator who heard and saw his violent thoughts and plan, but were *afraid* of saying anything or reporting it, because *they could lose their jobs due to charges of bias and discrimination*. Government may be slow, but once the federal bureaucracy decides they will do something like enforce anti-discrimination laws, boy, they are thorough. So in this case, the inability of people to feel enough freedom to report what was actually a violent and radical Muslim really planning terrorism led *directly* to the deaths of many people. That's just AWFUL.
And yet you still find people endlessly debating whether this was an isolated crazy or part of some franchise of terrorism with an international angle. The shoe bomber, the pants bomber, they come and go, and people have trouble connecting these dots, shirking from the fact that some of these incidents connect to each other and to a larger movement of incitement worldwide. People argue whether they are really terrorists, or just criminals with a lousy idea -- and yet when it comes to some reactionary who has become unhinged by the Obama revolution throwing a rock in a window after hours -- suddenly, they believe it's "terrorism".
Oh, but what about the murder of abortion doctors? someone is always quick to say (I've heard this argument used about 10 time in the last week on various forums). I'm amazed at how often this case is trotted out even by those apologizing for the radical Muslims (as if abortion doctors would get very far in their own conservative states!)
There have been four doctors in the U.S. murdered by anti-abortion crazies in the last 17 years, and you can read the following statistics on Wikipedia: According to statistics gathered by the National Abortion Federation (NAF), an organization of abortion providers, since 1977 in the United States and Canada, there have been 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, and 3 kidnappings committed against abortion providers. Contrast that with Russia, where just in one category -- migrant laborers from the Caucasus and Central Asia -- there have been about 64 people murdered by members of various skinhead, extremist, etc. groups or individual haters -- not to mention the 52 journalists killed in Russia for their work -- and the dozens of human rights activists. The numbers for situations like this in countries from Columbia or China will simply put the American numbers into perspective: this is a democratic country under the rule of law in which political rivalries generally take place in institutions of government and civil society. You may not appreciate it; I do.
All serious, but let's look again at what excites people the most, and makes them holler on forums that there is a "right wing death squads" in America: four murders. That is not to say, like Stalin, that one person's death is a tragedy, but many people's death is a statistic.
It is merely to *put into perspective what terrorism is and what it means*. For example, in Iraq, numerous incidents occur with 25, 50, 100 people bombed to death in marketplaces and other public spots by terrorists. See the difference? Big difference! 4,644 people were killed mainly by terrorists in Iraq in 2009. Did you hear about them, or did you hear way, way more about the roughly 1,000 killed in Gaza, not all of whom were civilians? Indignation is awfully selective on the left.
You want to know what real political violence and terrorism both are, where terrorists and violent movement both wreck havoc, sparking more violence from the communities they target, so that communal violence and state police violence? It's not Kent State. It's not a rock in a congressman's window in New York State. It's Nigeria, where hundreds and hundreds have been slaughtered among both Christians and Muslims, and with moderate Muslim clerics calling for help from people abroad to stop the violence of radicals in their midst, and nobody paying much attention to them, their eyes riveted to Gaza or some other drama that fits their prejudices better.
America is a country with pretty violent politics at times, even if you never hear about any congressmen slapping or shooting each other. In my lifetime, one president has been assassinated likely for political reasons, although people still argue to this day about it; another was shot and wounded by a crazy. A number of other political figures have been assassinated. Of course, this isn't Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka. But you would never know, from reading the hysterics on Twitter. A country with an open and free press and human rights lawyers can afford to obsess about four people killed; a country with a closed press and dead human rights lawyers is different -- and you don't hear about it.
The rush to judgement and belief that there is this evil movement out there that will go to any lengths of course has a mirror image on the right. While the left frets that 1/3 of Republicans believe Obama doesn't have a valid American birth certificate (the "birthers"), the right points out that 1/3 of Democrats believe 9/11 was an inside job by Bush (the "truthers"). Both draw inspiration historically form the "Know-Nothing" movement that could turn pro- or anti- immigration as it wended its populist way through the states.
I find on the right, there is more of a recognition -- a resignation -- that there is a left, and that it will exist, and will always have a liberal establishment in think-tanks, universities, schools, public service, unions, and will always rule the media, new or old. People see the task as removing leftists from *power* or *office* or *influence* but not from existence. But on the left, I find much more a tendency to want to stamp out and eradicate and delegitimize completely the right. To have it become extinct, to disappear. To imagine, as even the reputable Nicholas Christoff has implied, that it is a brain or evolutionary problem. There isn't a recognition that if someone is a Bible-toting, SUV driving shot-gun-owning believer in creation, they don't need to die, they need to be compromised with.
You can spare writing rabid comments here because the anonymous "Johnny B" of Boston has already said it all for you in comments to this NYT blog -- it's so typical of the rabid, uneducated rants that appear in the comments even of the Times that I would hope that I don't have to explicate it -- here's a guy who would deport a legal resident and strip him of his property, communist-like, just to win his political fights, which he imagines occur because of media bias:
What hypocrisy! Sooner or later, I believe the very worse case, nightmare scenario is going to happen in our country because of this out of control public hatred and scorn the right holds for our government. And the blame will lie squarely with the GOP and the mainstream media. The GOP because it is actively promoting violent mob behavior that borders on domestic terrorism, as witnessed by last week's events in Washington and the window smashing rage that it manufactured. The GOP because its leaders like Sarah Palin promotes violent electioneering tactics (via violent terroristic language) to achieve change she wants. And the GOP for cynically splintering off the most violent and unstable part of its base and presenting it to the nation as a grassroots (sic) movement (Tea Baggers aka former Wallace DIxiecrats, KKK, Birchers, Moral majority religious outlyers, survivalist militias, conspiracy theorists at al). These are the same people who were yelling "kill Obama" and Slap the "B word" in reference to Hillary Clinton during the GOP primaries. This is not a movement! It is the angry, hatred filled mob at the center of the GOP, that has always blocked the path to positive change and a better society. The GOP, for cynically hiding its wholly owned, hateful, partisan propaganda machine (Fox News) behind the mantra of Freedom of the Press. And for allowing a foreigner, (Rupert Murdoch) to infiltrate our system, so as to blatantly undermine our Government. In my personal view, Murdoch's citizenship should be revoked. He should be forcibly deported back to Australia, from whence he came. And all of his USA press certifications, USA based media properties should be dissolved, dismantled and redistributed to honest news organizations. When you have a major political party actively promoting and protecting fringe groups within its base, that advocate violent overthrow of our elected government or secession, a very bad end game is not very far behind.
The mainstream press is also a major enabler of this potential disaster in waiting. They absolutely refuse to report truth about the nature and evolution of this emerging domestic terrorism threat. This threat is much more dangerous than Al Qaeda because it is embedded within the second largest political Party in the Republic. Just imagine the nuclear trigger in the hands of people like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, G. Gordon Liddy, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Tancredo and the host of other hate merchants and you get the picture. These are the very people who are sending coded messages daily along with FoxNews to a demented mob of proxies to "Kill Obama!Care, Kill Pelosi!Care, Kill Stupak!the baby killer, Smash Democrat's Windows at home and in their offices!, bring firearms openly to Democratic events, Spit on Democrats!, Disrespect Democrats!, Ignore laws sponsored by Democrats!, break in Democrat's offices and steal phone and other messages!".
Is Johnny retarded? Can he grasp the difference between, oh, Hamas, or the Sudanese government, or Kadyrov in Chechnya, or Akhmadinajad wishing to remove Israel from the map, and...Sarah Palin? Can he even see that the nuclear button now isn't in Palin's hand, it's in Barack's? Shouldn't he be worried about "bombing Iran"?!
Can he recall the hackers that *hacked into Sarah Palin's email?" Where was his outrage for such acts *then*?
Can he detect any differences between the KKK, random survival nutters, and the Tea Party movement? And how could he, when Wikipedia has gone into fearful lockdown because of disagreements among their lefty editors of how critical to be about this movement? You may not care for Newt Gingrich, but he's a speaker at Tea Party events and you can't call him a terrorist. You may not like the ideas of this young girl on Twitter named Liberty Belle who is an ordinary worker in a midwestern state who simply got tired of feeling "disintermediated" by the leftist media and political machine and began organizing protests. But you can hardly call her a terrorist.
Here's a guy who likely blame Israel for all problems in the Middle East and would love for Obama to suspend aid to Israel, and thinks...Sarah Palin with a nuclear button is scary and somehow fails to find the Iranian president a problem. What can you do with freaks like this?!
I'll tell you what the "mainstream press" is not covering: the authenticity of this movement and the resonance it has from people who in no way use or condone violence, even if they are angry, and frankly are going to the ballot box, not the bullet box, to express their unhappiness with Democrats in their cities and states and guess what -- that's why the left is trying so mightily to discredit them.
I saw one twit today reference a blog where there were "gun sights" on a map that referred to elections being watched by Palin and supporters. This gun-sight graphic was suddenly "proof" that the right is "inciting violence". Use of the term "reloaded" was also suddenly supposedly a nod and wink from Palin to shoot people (!). The "fire Nancy Pelosi" page with fire flame is suddenly "a violent movement inciting political violence". A lot of hysterical, self-indulgent infantile children. It really makes me angry, because I know what *real* political violence is: my friends being shot dead in Russia for testifying against fascist killers in court or taking up the cases of human rights victims. I know what *real* terrorism is: my fellow parishioners blown up to smithereens by fanatical Islamists. Hello!
Are these bloggers on tablets?! When Obama was targeted over his association with William Ayers, he never did the right thing and condemned the violent group and violence committed by William Ayers -- instead, he and his supporters reiterated that Obama was too young to have been significantly influenced by this homegrown American terrorist (which *is* what you call people who plot to blow up people and kill policemen) and that he wasn't any close associate but merely crossed paths with him through education ties. When Holder backed up the release of the Black Panther defendants, the left had nothing to say.
Funny how a lone disgruntled tax nutter who flew a suicide mission into the IRS building is a harbinger of a mass violent movement of Teabaggers, yet the killer in Fort Hood, who planned to kill multiple people, was associated with radical religious figures and who talked about the need to revenge U.S. military action in Muslim countries is just a one-off isolated crazy...
This big, um, movement of support of the IRS plane guy, who, I'm surprised to learn (because I read mainly liberal media!) actually cited the Communist Manifesto in his death letter, is a...Facebook group founded by a high-school kid who works in a deli.
Says Powerline, noting Frank Rich's incitement:
But these leaders do have a consistent ideology, and that ideology plays to the lock-and-load nutcases out there, not just to the peaceable (if riled up) populist conservatives also attracted to Tea Partyism.
This is the kind of slur you can get away with if you're only accountable to editors at the New York Times who share your paranoid liberal ideology. I dislike Ron Paul and am not a fan of Glenn Beck, but how do their ideas "play to the lock-and-load nutcases out there"? If either of these gentlemen has done something to encourage violence, as Rich unambiguously implies, you might think that he would tell us what it is.