Monday, January 10, 2011
Right-wing hate shows and Fox News set up the targets, then wait for someone to come by and pull the trigger
by Larry Geller
The country and much of the world is focused on the violent hate speech that has become normalized in American media.
For example, Wikileaks just issued a press release a few minutes ago which included this:
WikiLeaks staff and contributors have also been the target of unprecedented violent rhetoric by US prominent media personalities, including Sarah Palin, who urged the US administration to “Hunt down the WikiLeaks chief like the Taliban”. Prominent US politician Mike Huckabee called for the execution of WikiLeaks spokesman Julian Assange on his Fox News program last November, and Fox News commentator Bob Beckel, referring to Assange, publicly called for people to "illegally shoot the son of a bitch." US radio personality Rush Limbaugh has called for pressure to "Give [Fox News President Roger] Ailes the order and [then] there is no Assange, I'll guarantee you, and there will be no fingerprints on it.", while the Washington Times columnist Jeffery T. Kuhner titled his column “Assassinate Assange” captioned with a picture Julian Assange overlayed with a gun site, blood spatters, and “WANTED DEAD or ALIVE” with the alive crossed out.
John Hawkins of Townhall.com has stated "If Julian Assange is shot in the head tomorrow or if his car is blown up when he turns the key, what message do you think that would send about releasing sensitive American data?"
At about the same time, this tweet came in, which I assume is a joke:
BREAKING: America Needs to Calm Down Violent Rhetoric, Says Kim Jong-Il
Commentators are beginning to zero in on the fact that our country is suffering from some kind of mental anger-illness that is quite capable of doing harm.
Much coverage of the Arizona shootings has explored whether the shooter might have been connected to any right-wing or other hate group. While it’s important to do that, it would be too convenient if such a connection were found.
A good deal of Democracy Now’s excellent coverage this morning fished for some possible connection. So soon after the incident, it would be impossible to do much more than speculate.
It almost doesn’t matter. Our violence-based politics finds plenty of resonance in a society conditioned to solve its problems by advocating and resorting to violence.
The lynchings of past generations were tolerated in the South where they took place while the North treated it as a Southern aberration. Torture is accepted as standard operating practice today by American police, military, prison management and right up to the White House itself. Nor do we march in the streets calling for an end to American torture. Overseas, our killing of civilians and support of brutal regimes also fails to bring any meaningful or effective protest back home.
But to the current killings--
It’s as though there’s some kind of evil carnival sideshow at which right wing hate radio and Fox News have set up the targets. In a state like Arizona, with its lax gun control mentality, someone is likely to come by and pull the trigger. Sure, talk radio did not itself carry out the violence, but at what point do we question whether those who try to run the show can at the same time claim they’re not responsible for the success of their efforts?
American society’s tolerance of hate speech perhaps reflects a widespread fixation on violence that we are doing little to nothing about changing. We define “national defense” in terms of expansive, deadly wars on other civilians. Peace education is not taught in our schools (it should be). In fact, many history classes, if they haven’t changed since I was in public school, are largely devoted to memorizing the dates and details of America’s wars. As adults, the hate radio and TV complete the job. Add to that the relatively new phenomenon of hate comments posted to unmoderated newspaper websites. Newspaper websites don’t cut off comments, they in effect encourage them because it brings them ad revenue. Yes, your local newspaper may be profiting from hate speech.
Within the country, faced with an incident such as has just taken place in Arizona, we try to pin the warped thinking of killers on radical groups that may have grabbed their attention. That does some good in focusing the spotlight for a brief moment on those groups, but it avoids discussing the widespread culture of violence and anger that breeds these shootings.
The fivethirtyeight blog correctly points out today that assassinations historically have been few in this country, but I tweeted back “assassinations may be infrequent, but need to look at totality, injured + killed. e.g., 6 presidents killed but 20 wounded out of 44.”
If we, as a society, allow the violent Right to keep setting up the targets, we can only expect that increasingly there will be people willing to show up to take those targets out.
These same right wing lunatics over the weekend received the same memo and have been planting the seed that the Arizona shooter is a left wing liberal. These people have no shame and their listeners and viewers must share the blame.
Yes, what is this manic love of violence? They couple it with government hatred. Remember our ambassador John Boltin saying nuke the U.N. Even Pat Robertson a former candidate for president suggested nuking our own state department, last year a Tea Party Leader wanting to hang Patty Murrey. Wow, America seems to have a love affair with bombs and guns even ropes. Now we have Fox news commentators like Sarah Palin a well known gun enthusiast saying "reload". We all know propaganda often works. We see it with Al qaeda. Germany in the 1930's, etc. I really think we need to be more responsible. There are alot of fragile minds out there. Perhaps Fox News doesn't care ???
Probably, for Fox it is profits. As to Palin and others, they may not mind if what they're suggesting comes to pass. They won't go to jail for it. It's certainly a cowardly way to win.