Our Latest Political Violence: The Best Commentary

There will be much commentary next week about this latest act of political madness – the mass murder and attempted assassination of an AZ congresswoman.  I will post the best ones I find here in the coming days.  I’ll do this because it’s hard to get good stuff in the regular media, and I think this event must be understood to grasp what a group dedicated to “civilized conversation” is up against.

First, a vast campaign of rhetorical and very, very real violence has been going on out-of-sight of the mainstream media for two years now.  This guy appears to a paranoid schizophrenic with a mix of conspiracy theories in his troubled head.  But, the sewer of right-wing openly-insurrectionist and eliminationist rhetoric he tapped into is deeper than regular people imagine.  Here is a timeline of just six month’s worth of violence and threats of violence tracked by one organization! 

Here are a few good quickie reactions from a conservative commentator who has seen this coming for a while.

I will be judicious what I link to, but either we are dedicated to understanding what makes our political culture tick or we’re not.


UPDATE II:  George Packer in the New Yorker on the false equivalency argument:

[T]here is no balance — none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side’s activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can’t stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.

And, no, this doesn’t mean liberals are never intolerant, or use harsh rhtetoric, or argue, you know, in an uncivilized way.  But, there’s a difference between uncivilized discourse and what Limbaugh and Anne Coulter and Michelle Malkin and Michael Savage, asnd on and on, do.



3 responses

  1. I wouldn’t call Sullivan conservative anymore- more like “occasionally contrarian.”

    Another good response is James Fallows at The Atlantic.

    As far as next week’s topic, here’s an interesting link from Der Spiegel http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,737683,00.html

  2. In Defense of Inflamed Rhetoric http://www.slate.com/id/2280616

    1. I thought the Slate article defending inflamed rhetoric was disingenuous, as this rebuttal says: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/georgepacker/2011/01/tucson-revisited.html

      The gist:
      “[H]ardly anyone is calling for suppression of speech, certainly not me. What’s at issue is self-restraint on the part of leaders and media figures who command a following over which they exert considerable influence, and whom they daily incite into a state of political fury. My post stated at the top that no one but the shooter is responsible for the massacre. But other people, far from the Tucson Safeway, are responsible for pushing language, thought, and feeling to an extreme where political violence begins to seem legitimate. Is it a coincidence that threats to the President and Congress have skyrocketed over the past two years? The Secret Service doesn’t like to talk about these things, but I’ll bet that in years to come we’ll hear about a truly frightening level of threats during the Obama Presidency. Is it completely surprising that the shootings took place in a state and district that have become bywords for extremism and hot rhetoric?

      “…Loughner might, by chance, have been completely unaware of the climate in his hometown. Or he might have been steeped in it. The point is that the climate is dangerous, in Arizona and elsewhere, and the shootings ought to have prompted its purveyors to step back and do some hard thinking.”

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