Monday, January 10, 2011

Exploiting a tragedy

Let me specify right at the top that no specific motive has been established in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords beyond the fact that according to witnesses and evidence, the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, was consciously targeting Giffords. So the assertion that he was driven to murder by the vicious, hateful rhetoric of the organized right and its minions can't be made without any fear of future contradiction. Maybe Loughner is just, as the attempt is already being made to define (and thus dismiss) him as, a "mentally unstable" kid and his mass murder had nothing to do with the eliminationism that comes so easily to the lips of so many reactionary wingnuts.

But I doubt it.

I mean, maybe it's just a coincidence that Giffords was graphically "in the crosshairs" of the fanatics' grande dame. But I doubt it.

Maybe it's merely a happenstance that this occurred in the wake of advocacy of "Second Amendment remedies" that involved "taking out" elected politicians. But I doubt it.

Maybe there's no connection at all to a whole world of "beat[ing] the other side to a pulp ... chas[ing] them down," of being in Congress being "on enemy lines," of the need for supporters to be "armed and dangerous," the need to "send the socialists [i.e., Democrats] down ... in a river somewhere." But I really, really doubt it.

But I'll tell you who will doubt it: the media, which is incapable of dealing with right-wing insanity except with a "both sides do it" shrug, even if they have to bend over backwards far enough to kiss the back of their own knees to do it. AP, for example, referred sweepingly (and thus indiscriminately) to "the nation's caustic political climate," a "climate" it can't find to be driven by or blamed on anyone or even any side in particular but one that just, well, just is. Then there was Matt Bai's tortured equation of Sarah Palin's "crosshairs" map with a comment at Daily Kos as if they were of equal significance, a contention made even more ridiculous by the fact that the comment at DK was that of a Giffords constituent saying because Giffords voted against Nancy Pelosi keeping her leadership position in the House Democratic caucus, the Congresswoman is "dead to me," a phrase for which there is no interpretation that involves a threat of violence.

What's more, I will tell you not only who will doubt it, who will vociferously deny it: the right wing. "Of course," you say, and quite rightly, too, because now as always they will simply be invoking Rule #12 of my list of tactics of rightwing arguing:
Rule #12: Whenever faced with the evil resulting from some other winger following or acting on your arguments, accuse those who point out that fact of "politicizing a tragedy." Never, never, never admit any responsibility for the meaning or impact of your own words.
Lamar Alexander, for one example,
defended Sarah Palin Sunday, saying that it is irresponsible for the media to be bringing up her much-discussed image of political targets from the 2010 election in the aftermath of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and others in Arizona.

In an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," Alexander objected to a question about the crosshairs map from host Candy Crowley, saying she was tying Palin to the tragedy.
"Nothing to do with us!" is the cry. "Can't blame us! No no no! Not fair! Not fair!"

In an unintentionally hilarious example of the same practice on the same point, SarahPAC staffer Rebecca Mansour has claimed the crosshairs on Palin's map had nothing to do with, you know, like, guns 'n' stuff.
"We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights," she said in an interview with talk radio host Tammy Bruce Saturday. "It was simply crosshairs like you'd see on maps." Bruce suggested that they could, in fact, be seen as "surveyor's symbols."
Sure, they weren't "targeting" those legislators, not even just symbolically or philosophically. They were, um, er, surveying them! Yeah! That's the ticket! No violent imagery at all! Perish the thought! In fact, Mansour went on to claim that "it never occurred to us that anybody would consider it violent." This despite the fact that Palin herself linked to the map on her "don't retreat, reload" tweet and after the election referred to it as her "bullseye" list.

The first part of Rule #12 didn't get neglected, either: Mansour
called any attempts to politicize the Arizona tragedy "repulsive."
I was going to include a few more examples of that claim, that any references to GOPper eliminationism is, as Rule #12 says, "politicizing a tragedy," but there so quickly were so many, all saying the same thing, making the same arguments, often enough in much the same words, that it became too much to spend more time with; the moral vacuousness expressed became intolerable. According to the nutbags and gasbags, pointing out their hate is not, cannot be, cannot be allowed to be, an expression of moral outrage or even just frustration or anger. It can't even be simply labeled misdirected or wrong and the one thing it absolutely must not be allowed to be is the be truth. Rather it is, it must be, it can't be recognized as being other than, the left "exploiting a tragedy," making a move to "leverage a crisis," for political gain. For shame, they cry, for shaaaammme!

Because, you see, the wingnuts and their associated wackos must be free to call those on the left "unAmerican" and "traitors" and "tyrants" and "a cancer" and "a virus" and "an infection" and "rats" and "vermin" - but call them on any of that and it's "You're against free speech" (Rule #10) and "No, you're the violent one" (Rule #17) and if you dare to point to anything clearly, even demonstrably, connected to their hate-filled spewings, then they will, as I said in an earlier such case, "scurry away like cockroaches."
"Oh no no no, I didn't mean that! You can't blame me for that! That has nothing to do with me! Oh no no no!" The sniveling cowards, hiding behind the brutality of others, too low, too craven even to take responsibility for the meaning of their own words.
And so here is it again: They denounce, they declaim, they rant and rave and rail about "tyranny" this and "government take-over" that and they ramble on and on about conspiracies and dark forces and looming threats and "they're going to slaughter you" and "enemies within" and how there are "anti-Americans" in the House of Representatives, but if someone actually listens, someone actually absorbs their vitriol, someone actually acts on their bilge, and does it in a way which is not to their political advantage, that is, in a way which reveals what they are truly about, reveals their soulless lust for power and domination, when they put crosshairs on specific individuals and then someone pulls the trigger, they're all wide-eyed blinking stares and "Who, me?"

Yes. You. And what's more, I have a news flash: Even if it turns out that Loughner's grievance against Giffords was the result of some disjointed, dysfunctional thought process and had nothing to do with rightwing rhetoric, it's still you. Because it has been you. And it will be you. The very fact that you, yes you, have created a climate where the speculation about Loughner's motives and influences, even if ultimately incorrect, was still entirely reasonable is proof enough.

Yes. It's you.

Footnote One: Roy Edroso has a good piece in the Village Voice about the reaction in the rightwing blogosphere to the shooting. Apparently, I underestimated the amount of "No, you're the real" whatever going on: The wingers have convinced themselves, largely on the basis of Loughner having listed The Communist Manifesto among a long list of books he liked, that he is a "committed leftist" - and what's more, some of them darkly hint, it appears that Daily Kos is somehow involved in what now assuredly is a political hit, not a "tragedy" by someone unhinged, once it's claimed the trigger-puller was somewhere to the left of Ben Nelson.

Footnote Two: There is another target for blame, one overlooked by many but not by the sharp, insightful doyens of the mass media: the internet. Yes, of course! Duh! Why didn't we all think of that? Everything is the fault of the internet!
“Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer ended his broadcast with a lament about the power of the Internet in a “dangerous hair-trigger time.”

“We scream and shout, hurl charges without proof. Those on the other side of the argument become not opponents but enemies. Dangerous, inflammatory words are used with no thought of consequence. All is fair if it makes the point,” he said.

“Those with sick and twisted minds hear us too and are sometimes inflamed by what the rest of us often discard as hollow and silly rhetoric. And so violence becomes part of the argument.”
In addition to being a wonderful example of a political form of the passive voice where everyone is equally to blame (and thus no one is to blame), it translates to "If only you'd all shut up and let us decide what's important and what isn't and let us decide the proper limits of the range of debate, everything would be fine."

Well, that might be okay, Mr. Bob, Sir, if it wasn't for your institutional tendency to pander to the right and piss on the left and the crappy job you and you ilk did and still do at one of your central purposes, which is to hold power to account. Do your job and there will be less need for us to do it for you. Not that I expect that to happen.

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');