Raise your hand if you were shocked by the killing spree in Arizona this weekend. None, eh?
Of course it’s horrifying to hear of the shootings of a judge, a child, a Congresswoman and others, but can we really say this isn’t to be expected in a year filled with hard-right rage against the most tepid reforms, immigrants and anyone or thing that might remotely pose a challenge to Beck and Palin’s fantasy America?
The weekend’s killing spree by what appears to be a mentally ill individual can’t just be chalked up to the doings a madman. The right wing in this country has been toying with assassination lingo and eliminationist rhetoric on a daily basis. Is it any surprise that people who suffer from mental illness might actually take up Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin or Bill O’Reilly’s call to arms?
The best analysis piece I’ve read so far is by socialist journalist, Nicole Colson, “Hatred Strikes in the ‘Capital of Bigotry.'” And even the New York Times’ Paul Krugman hits the nail on the head in today’s column, “Climate of Hate.” Michael Moore slams the right and its hypocrisy in his tweet: “If a Detroit Muslim put a map on the web w/crosshairs on 20 pols, then 1 of them got shot, where would he b sitting right now? Just asking.”
I agree with all of them, so I won’t belabor my point beyond adding one element of critique about the media coverage of all this. Aside from the endless, breathless chatter about the trajectory of a bullet through the head by CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, the media pundits are trying to spin this as a lack of “civility” in U.S. politics. Even today’s Washington Post asks if Obama will rise above the fray so as not to take political “advantage” of the shootings.
Pardon my French, but fuck that shit.
The attempt by the overly coiffed pundits to create an equal sign between the outrage against corporate greed and war expressed by the left and the racist and reactionary discourse of the right is absurd and unsupported by the facts.
Nobody on the left—and by this I mean both the actual left, like the 300 New Yorkers who marched in commemoration of the Gaza massacre yesterday and the media “left,” like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann—has called for shooting, targeting, or blowing away political opponents.
Unlike Fox News and the Web sites and twitisphere of the Tea Bigots and the hard right politicians, the left in this country is not spreading gun-nuttery and playing with violent provocations. The president of the United States’ nationality, religion, race and shockingly even his pro-corporate policies have been the stuff of right-wing calls to assassination. Obama has a responsibility to publicly take on the right wing for its violent ravings in direct and uncompromising terms.
I have no illusions that President Obama will do this, of course. He will most likely utter some vacuous condemnation of extremism, as if there is no difference between posting a map with crosshairs over politicians online like Palin and demanding single-payer health care for all like the left does.
If Obama equivocates, as expected, he may well just be encouraging the hard right to continue its violent ravings unchallenged. The results are then likely to be more of the same.