January 10, 2011

A history of conservative hate speech

Are the examples of conservative vitriol noted in Political Vitriol in the Giffords Shooting, Debating Loughner's Influences, and Shooter Hits Palin's Target some sort of unusual or unplanned happenstance? No.

Preliminary report finds extensive use of hate speech on conservative talk radio

By Letisia MarquezThe study found that:

* Dehumanizing metaphors were used in 185 statements. Such metaphors evoked warfare, heroism, enemies, biblical characters, criminality, persecution and other representations.

* There were 77 instances of flawed argumentation, including ad hominem statements, guilt by association, and hidden assumptions or missing premises.

* Divisive language was used in 79 instances, in which individuals were presented in an "us versus them" framework as either supporting or opposing the show's worldview.

* 33 false statements were used to validate the hosts' points and to promote public opinion. A false statement is a simple falsehood, exaggerated statement or decontextualized fact that renders a statement misleading.
A list of 116 examples of conservatives promoting violence against political opponents since 2008:

Insurrectionism TimelineOn June 26, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court embraced the National Rifle Association's contention that the Second Amendment provides individuals with the right to take violent action against our government should it become "tyrannical." The following timeline catalogues incidents of insurrectionist violence (or the promotion of such violence) that have occurred since that decision was issued.A dozen examples from conservative campaigns in 2010:

Before Shooting, A Campaign Season Rife With Gun Rhetoric

Examples from Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, and other leading voices in the right-wing media:

Let's Get This Straight

Conservative cheerleader Ann Coulter alone has issued a plethora of hate-filled threats and wishes, as noted here:

Exclusive:  Conservative Group Denounces Ann Coulter!

Nor is this kind of vitriol anything new. Another seven examples from 1995 to 2002:

The Wrath of Fools:  An Open Letter to the Far Right

Of course, we've seen many examples of conservatives advocating hate and violence since 9/11: against Arabs, Muslims, terrorist suspects, anti-war activists, political dissenters, Julian Assange and Wikileaks, and others. The list goes on and on.

Hate speech is conservative strategy

Nor is all this political vitriol just the random workings of the political marketplace. Rather, it's an intentional, calculated strategy by conservatives to demonize their opponents.

Hate Speech:  The Right’s Magic Bullet

By Michael WinshipThe fact is, it has been the right's goal to poison our political discourse for years. Remember the notorious “GOPAC Memo” back in the 1990’s, created for the Republicans’ leadership training institute and endorsed by Newt Gingrich? Titled "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,” in it, candidates are instructed in what words to use when defining their opponents (i.e., liberals). "These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contract,” the memo said. “Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals, and their party” (in other words, demonize them).

Among them: intolerant… lie… pathetic… radical… sick… steal… traitors. Gingrich and his allies deliberately set out to employ toxic language against their opponents, and are still doing it. They will say anything to get a vote, especially now that the angriest and most irrational so often make up a majority of those who bother to go to the polls. This kind of talk is part and parcel of their strategy, and no matter what motivated the Tucson killings, it needs to stop.

Their lock and load rhetoric is reinforced by the rambling ranks of those who go on the Internet to spout any conspiracy theory, distortion of history or outright lie that helps them make it through the night. Add, too, the men and women of radio and television, the Limbaugh’s, Beck’s, and their ilk who use the airwaves as a cudgel, battering viewers and listeners with the certainty of their illogic, their thinly veiled messages of bigotry and meretricious embrace of Constitution, religion, flag and family.

All of them will huff and puff that this is an isolated incident by a madman that cannot be blamed on their bombast and bluster. But let’s call it out for what it is, let’s debate what in our gut we know to be true: even if it was not their intent, it’s likely the words of the right on radio and TV and in the books they publish spurred on the man who killed two and wounded six in a Knoxville, Kentucky, church in July 2008, and the murderer of George Tiller, one of the few doctors in America who still performed late-term abortions for women with problem pregnancies whose health was at stake from life-threatening complications, or whose infants would be born dead or dying. Their invective, whether inadvertently or not, has encouraged the vandalism and threats faced by so many of our candidates and elected officials, including the now desperately wounded Congresswoman Giffords. Her shooting, and the death and wounding of so many who came to meet with her are just the latest example of ideologically-motivated bloodshed.
Nor did the vitriol begin with Gingrich's memo, alas. It goes back to Nixon's Southern strategy--painting Democrats as race traitors--and McCarthy-era witch hunts questioning the patriotism of liberals.


Conservatives are already arguing that their hate speech is no different from what liberals say about them. Great. I look forward to seeing the evidence of the violence and death threats issued by major Democratic politicians and pundits against Republicans and their families.

Repeat: major Democratic politicians and pundits, not random cranks and bloggers like me. Go through the writings of Michael Moore, Arianna Huffington, Paul Krugman, Al Franken, et al. and find the instances where these people wished or threatened physical violence against their opponents.

I imagine conservatives already have collected and posted this evidence. So let's see the links, good buddies. I can take it if you can.

For more on the subject, see Sherrod Incident Shows Conservative Tactics and Any Excuse to Hate Obama.


Wild One said...

I have to say I do not like the idea currently bandied about by the press that "hate speech" caused the shootings in Arizona. No sooner did the shootings occur than this rhetoric hit the airwaves. It is ridiculous. Perhaps the unhappiness in the political climate stems from that fact that the U.S. now has socialized medicine, government mandated strip searches at airports and a soon-to-be government controlled food supply? How come no one's talking about those issues? I for one do not wish to see the freedom of speech taken away as well, "for safety's sake". No one can MAKE another person do anything. Ultimately, it is that person's free choice. Yet revoking the right of free speech seems to be the next tack for the press to pound into the political climate.
Americans need to wake up and stop believing everything their digital devices tell them. My sympathies to the families.

Burt said...

All those "socialized" areas you lists have been applied to the American Indian and we are all still here and have retained our cultures, so I don't see why Americans think socialism is good when it comes to "certain" things, but not for "other" things.

Sounds a like a spoiled child.

Everyone is running to cover their own political as*es so to speak. Its the American way. Surely we have seen this and been through this before?

To this day, nobody has pointed any fingers at our greatest nation on the earths mightiest intelligence and defense of country when Bush waited 7 minutes before getting up from his chair on 911.

Everyone was too busy hating Muslims, our brothers in arms of the oil industry.

Wild One said...

You are right, Burt. There is a peculiar tendency for the media and political pundits to distract the general public from the real issues happening all around us. Makes one wonder what really IS going on.
Social programs have their place, but there are also many natives who would prefer not to depend on the government if they didn't have to. No, things are not always fair or equal or even close. I just don't think more Socialism will help anyone though.