June 13, 2009

Right-wingers foment hate

More on the subject of Terrorism at the Holocaust Museum and what it tells us about American culture.

Dissolving America:  The Treason of the Right

By Gus diZeregaIn the past year there have been many murderous terrorist attacks in the United States, and all have been from the radical right. Jim Adkisson killed two Unitarian church members and wounded others because they were "liberals." Kieth Luke, a neo-Nazi, conducted a rape and murder spree after Obama was inaugurated. Right winger Richard Poplawski murdered several deputies in a ambush killing. Then Joshua Cartwright, similarly worried that Obama was president and might take away his guns, killed two other deputies in Florida. George Tiller's murder was only the most recent in a long list of murders by "pro-life" monsters. And I imagine everyone knows the most recent act of right wing terrorism: James Von Brunn's cold blooded murder of Stephen T. Jones at the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

About the only non-rightwinger involved in terrorism was a Muslim convert Carlos "Corey" Bledsoe, now Abdulhakid Mujahid Mohammed, who allegedly shot and killed Army Pvt. William Long and wounded another soldier outside a Little Rock, Ark., mall.
The New York Times summarizes a variety of views on whether Von Brunn is a true conservative in Weekend Opinionator:  Is Racist Hate Republican or Democratic? Naturally, I agree with those who say he is, including Damon Linker:The anti-liberal left has historically been defined by the radical universalism of its principles, the anti-liberal right by its exclusionary (racial, ethnic, national) particularism. That is the primary difference between them. And that’s why Von Brunn is unmistakably a man of the anti-liberal right: he believes in a particularistic vision of the world in which Jews, blacks, neocons, people with low IQs, and sundry other classes and groups of people have been eliminated; on Wednesday, he made a small contribution to realizing this distinctively right-wing ideal.Who incites the hate?

Paul Krugman notes the role of the right-wing media in fomenting hate:

The Big Hate[F]or the most part, the likes of Fox News and the R.N.C. haven’t directly incited violence, despite Bill O’Reilly’s declarations that “some” called Dr. Tiller “Tiller the Baby Killer,” that he had “blood on his hands,” and that he was a “guy operating a death mill.” But they have gone out of their way to provide a platform for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric, just as they did the last time a Democrat held the White House.

And at this point, whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.

Exhibit A for the mainstreaming of right-wing extremism is Fox News’s new star, Glenn Beck. Here we have a network where, like it or not, millions of Americans get their news—and it gives daily airtime to a commentator who, among other things, warned viewers that the Federal Emergency Management Agency might be building concentration camps as part of the Obama administration’s “totalitarian” agenda (although he eventually conceded that nothing of the kind was happening).

But let’s not neglect the print news media. In the Bush years, The Washington Times became an important media player because it was widely regarded as the Bush administration’s house organ. Earlier this week, the newspaper saw fit to run an opinion piece declaring that President Obama “not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself,” and that in any case he has “aligned himself” with the radical Muslim Brotherhood.
diZerega notes how the conservative viewpoint itself incites hate:Like termites, the right wing media has been gradually eating away at this moral and intellectual heritage for decades. They have been teaching that other identities are more important than being an American: "Christian," conservative, white, and so on. In doing so they have constantly taught that Americans who do not meet their tribalistic standards are inferior.

No greater treason is possible than that of undermining the bonds of peace and respect that hold a society together, substituting hatred, distrust, fear, and violence in its place.
This is an important point because it's usually the right wing who complains about ethnic enclaves, studies, holidays, etc. Ethnic "tribalism" is a drop in the bucket compared to white, Christian tribalism. Our culture tells us a hundred times a day that white and Christian is the norm and anything else is "different." From the white faces on TV to "In God We Trust" on coins, the message is that America is a white Christian country and anyone who doesn't like it can lump it.

Violence is American

Finally, Bob Herbert notes how Americans act upon our racial and religious differences: not with rational debate but with irrational violence. This is rooted in the American mindset, which says might makes right and winning is everything.

The Way We Are

By Bob HerbertThe truth, of course, is that there is nothing aberrational about hatred and murderous violence in the U.S. They are two of the most prominent touchstones of the culture, monumentally tragic flaws that have permeated the nation’s history from its earliest moments and that plague us still today.

Americans kill each other at roughly the rate of 16,000 a year! From racial violence to family violence to gang warfare to street crime to mass murder—the blood never stops flowing.

The white supremacist crowd is up in arms, literally, in large part because the tide has turned against them. In addition to the presence of Mr. Obama in the White House, racism and anti-Semitism are no longer tolerated as overt factors in American life. And demographic trends show whites becoming a steadily smaller percentage of the overall population.

But we should not pretend that things are better than they are. Racism is still a powerful force in the U.S., so powerful that the president, an African-American, is barely willing to mention race unless he absolutely has to.

And murderous violence is as much of a problem as ever.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Klansmen, Neo-Nazis, and Christian Patriots and The Enemy Within.

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