2011/01/15

Evidence that the left is just as bad as the right?


A commenter in the Inky gives us a link to a blog post by Michelle Malkin that purports to show that the left is just as bad as the right when it comes to uncivil and incendiary rhetoric. To quote Howard Dean talking about Colin Powell's case that Iraq had WMD “I was impressed not by the vastness of evidence presented by the Secretary, but rather by its sketchiness.”

Malkin presents lots and lots of objectionable material put out by the left in their presentations (Written and during protests) against various figures on the right. I was particularly disgusted by the image Malkin chose to start off her piece with, a picture of Sarah Palin being slugged by a very large hand, her glasses flying off and her teeth breaking. This is a revolting image that I have absolutely zero problems denouncing and condemning. There's also a video of a fistfight that took place at a Tea Party rally where the Tea Partiers were just minding their own business and exercising their First Amendment right to protest government policies. Again, I have absolutely zero problems condemning this sort of thing, Malkin presents a long list of mugshots accompanied by their crimes, some serious, slashing tires, stalking and trying to run down a Congresswoman with his car. Many of the charges also include people attacking campaign signs and throwing salad dressing and custard cream pies. None of the conduct that's documented is excusable and all were properly punished.

What's missing is anything from any sort of prominent person on the left side of the political aisle. Madonna and Sarah Bernhard, who are more entertainment than they are political figures, are about it. The rest are all members of rallies and/or people you've never heard of. As the book review to "The Case For Bush Hatred: Mad About You" by Jonathan Chait, makes clear:

The trouble with this parallel is, first, that this sort of Bush-hating is entirely confined to the political fringe. The most mainstream anti-Bush conspiracy theorist cited in York's piece is Alexander Cockburn, the ultra-left, rabidly anti-Clinton newsletter editor. Mainstream Democrats have avoided delving into Bush's economic ties with the bin Laden family or suggesting that Bush invaded Iraq primarily to benefit Halliburton. The Clinton haters, on the other hand, drew from the highest ranks of the Republican Party and the conservative intelligentsia.

Lefty blogger Digby cites Right Wing Watch:

In 2007, conservative activist Mark DeMoss launched something called The Civility Project, seeking to get governors and members of Congress to sign on to a short pledge vowing to conduct themselves civilly:
  • I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.
  • I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them.
  • I will stand against incivility when I see it.
Four years and thousands of dollars later, DeMoss is shutting down the project after securing such pledges from only three members of Congress while enduring countless insults from his fellow conservatives:
The piece goes on to cite conservatives who were so angry at being called to task that the author declared many responses to be unprintable.

FAIR lists an awful lot of what conservatives describe as “lone nuts.” Yeah, these are people who acted alone and without obvious co-conspirators, but gee, they all had a real problem with liberals and Democrats.

Firedoglake looks at certain right wing reactions to Arizona Sheriff Dupniks charge that the political climate in Arizona made the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) possible and finds there was quite a bit of what the Red Chinese would have referred to as “self-criticism” in their remarks. They cite a Republican Senator making fairly innocuous criticisms of the Tea Party who, very interestingly, feels the need to do it anonymously. Are we worried about right-wing violence, perhaps?

Quoting right-wingers who make inflammatory statements that have the potential to encourage violence isn't difficult at all. The left-wing media watchdog groups FAIR and Media Matters have long lists of right-wingers making such statements. In fact, Media Matters has documented three separate individuals who have been “inspired” by Fox News' Glenn Beck to try and commit violent acts. Fortunately, all three persons were stopped before they could carry out their intentions.

Finally, we must also remember that truth is an absolute defense against charges of libel. So when right-wingers charge lefties with being uncivil when they charge that President George W. Bush lied and committed crimes against humanity, I really have a hard time applying the label of “uncivil” to such rhetoric.

Update:
Good column looks at the shooting of Rep. Giffords and the larger picture of civility in our politics. This was a particularly chilling statement that jumped out at me:
After Loughner’s massacre, Humphries was still faulting her — this time for holding "an event in full view of the public with no security whatsoever.”

2011/01/10

Rep Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) shot, survives, but six others dead

A federal judge and a nine-year-old girl are among the deceased from that attack. Newsworks reports that a granddaughter of former Phils manager was also among dead. A suspect is in custody.
More coverage: Heroism from an intern | One Anti-Authoritarian Perspective on the Hierarchy of Violence
I received a very heartfelt note on Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot today.

Federal judge John Roll and five others are among the deceased from that attack.

Yes, unfortunately, Giffords was one of the Congresspeople “targeted” by Sarah Palin who “jokingly” and “light-heartedly” put rifle cross-hairs above several Congressional districts back during the 2010 campaign.

Fox News demonstrated unequivocally that they were all-to-aware of that graphic. When someone mentioned Sarah Palin's name at a vigil, they quickly cut away.

A blogger from Crooks & Liars says: “In one of the most remarkable press conferences I've ever seen, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik called out for an end to the violent rhetoric that leads to acting-out by people who are 'unbalanced' not once, but three times.
Calling Arizona a 'Mecca for prejudice and bigotry', Dupnik spoke sharply about the rhetoric coming from radio and television sources."

Eliminationalist rhetoric explained.

A reprinting of Clinton's speech after the Oklahoma City bombing.

Update: And of course, in what's clearly force of habit, a member of the traditional press corps calls out for calm and civility in the language of false equivalence:

"...we've already heard from some members of Congress who have been on our air earlier today saying that they do hope that this is a wake up call, a wake up call for both parties to try to get out... get the word out their to their supporters, to constituents, to maybe even the blogosphere, which is not easy, to tone it down a little bit."

Of course, it's not a call for the Republican Party, which is broadcasting virtually all of the hatred, to tone it down. No, it's a call for "both side" to tone it down, because, you know, both sides are equivalent and both sides are expressing eliminationist rhetoric.
-------------

Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake concludes


that the fellow who shot Giffords was a lone wolf who was acting on his own and that there's no evidence that Arizona's toxic, hate-filled climate, fueled by the demagoguery of the Republican Party and Fox News, played any significant role in egging him on to do what he did.
Still, it's most interesting and instructive to see how right-wingers reacted to being accused of fostering a climate of hate in which Loughner might have felt that he had been given permission to shoot someone that he disagreed with politically.

Contextualizing the shooting


James and Dave make good points about the hierarchy of violence, and I can't say I disagree, but I'd like to add that the right-wing, Sarah Palin-esque, ie. fascist camp that had been attacking Rep Giffords and reportedly making threatening phone calls, was in fact criticizing her not being racist and militaristic enough.
Certainly the support for the militarization of the US-Mexican border is indefensible, and in the corporate news, we never hear about the many deaths of immigrants trying to cross the US-Mexico border. Or, for example, how bad working conditions are for undocumented workers that many die because of this, while many more suffer terribly --I consider this to be state violence as well, since I think all the anti-immigrant hysteria is pumped up to make immigrants (particularly those without papers) as vulnerable as possible, so that immigrants can be maximally exploited in the workplace.
That said, I see this attack in the context of how the right wing has been stoking and resurrecting this country's dark history of lynch mob style racism and anti-Left violence. Sarah Palin's open appeals to racism and anti-Left sentiment during the presidential campaign against Obama honestly shocked me because the appeals to racism were much more overt than I'd expected. Many obviously hated him simply for being Black (notably Obama has bent over backwards to accommodate white racism, even criticizing Jimmy Carter for describing the Tea Party as racist). A Reuters article reported a few weeks after the election that there had been a mountain of death threats against Obama in the last months of the elections, that escalated in the last few weeks leading up to the 2008 election, and Reuters cited the Secret Service as officially attributing it to Sarah Palin.
My point here is that during the 2008 election and post election the right has become even more overtly fascist, and this shooting should be seen in the context of this. Rep Giffords was hated by the right wingers because she did not support SB 1070 and supported mainstream immigration reform. This was too much for them. Even though radicals think she should not support militarization of the border and the many murderous Drone attacks, she was considered too far left by the Tea Party crowd.
And, this, I think is quite significant.