Saturday, June 24, 2017

26.1 - The rightwing blames the progressive left for the shooting in Alexandria (as predicted)

The rightwing blames the progressive left for the shooting in Alexandria (as predicted)

I told you, I told you, I told you!

I told you this is what was going to happen.

Last week, I only mentioned the mass shooting in Alexandria briefly because news of it had come only shortly before I did the show and there was no time to gather information. But I did say something and I am going to quote what I said in full and word for word. This was it:
You undoubtedly know about the gunman who shot up a group of Republican lawmakers who were practicing for an annual charity baseball game, wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise - who at last report is in critical condition - and at least four others before being killed.
You also have undoubtedly heard about how the shooter, one James Hodgkinson, was some real liberal and a Bernie Sanders supporter.

So I want this noted, For the Record: I predict that you will not find one single GOPper, one single wingnut, one single person on the entire right half of the US political spectrum who will describe this guy as what they always describe right-wing shooters as, "a lone wacko," and that instead they will claim he is "emblematic of the violence of the left."
That's what I told you would happen and that is exactly what has happened. The right wing, demonstrating its typical total lack of self-awareness and conscience, rose as one to blame it all on "the liberals."

I'm going to go through a list because you need to understand how wide and how unified this vilification is. And remember, this is not an historical compilation. These all came in the last week in response to the Alexandria shooting.

Rush Limbaugh said "the average, base Democrat voter" is "getting more and more fringe and imbalanced; they openly promote violence," before labeling Hodgkinson "a mainstream Democrat voter."

Lifezette, the website of Laura Ingraham, declared that the "American Left demonizes and dehumanizes conservatives."

The Daily Caller called the shooting part of "an escalating pattern of violence and intimidation against Republicans," who are constantly on "the receiving end of violence and intimidation" - because they, of course, are always the victims. Always.

William Jacobson of the rightwing blog Legal Insurrection wrote that "the entire concept of 'The Resistance' invokes violence" and "the window for violence has been moved from the radical fringes to the mere left."

Rightwing radio host Bill Mitchell tweeted that "The Left in this country is ushering in a new #CultureOfViolence where violent hate is the new normal."

Newt Gingrich called the shooting "part of a pattern" of left behavior.

Alt-right troll Nick Short claimed that"Alexandria comes from the incitement by the Left and the media" and thatsaying "people will die" as a result of losing health coverage - which is literally true and there are studies finding that anywhere from 18,000 to 45,000 Americans die every year from inadequate access to health care - but speaking that literal truth is to Nick Short "an incitement to violence."

And indeed, political cartoonist Mike Lester directly connected Hodgkinson to that, directly connected his murderous rampage to those people saying folks will die if they lose their health coverage.

Alex Jones of InfoWars claimed that Democrats have been "calling for Trump's death" and for his supporters to be attacked."

Sean Hannity blamed the shooting on "left-wing hate that is being spewed" by "liberals all across the country" who are "glorifying violence."

Far-right operative and bizzaro-conspiracy-monger Roger Stone said the shooting was the result of hate generated by the media and egged on by "LibDems."

National Review claimed "the American Left has embraced political violence and 'anarcho-tyranny,'" whatever that's supposed to mean.

Harlan Hill, a rightwing political consultant, said tough criticism of TheRump, even if accurate, such as calling him "dangerous," is "a passive justification for the kind of violence we saw."

When they get to more specific targets, the wingnuts got positively loopy, dumping the blame in the lap of whoever the particular wingnut is obsessed with: Among those blamed were Snoop Dogg, Barack Obama, Madonna, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Kathy Griffin, Sen. Tim Kaine, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the media, and the investigation into TheRump's ties to Russia.

That's by no means all, but it should be enough.

Note well: Not one of these people said anything about "lone wacko," about there being no meaning beyond the individual tragedy and how dare you even suggest it had something to do with political rhetoric. Not one of them said any of the things they always say when it's a rightwing shooter.

In fact, Limbaugh went out of his to way specifically say that Hodgkinson is not "a Looney Tune kook burger."

Well, right now federal officials are now characterizing Hodgkinson as a desperate man who was unemployed, running out of money, taking prescription drugs, having anger issues, and in a troubled marriage and that he was "struggling in all kinds of different ways." They also described the shooting as more of a spontaneous event.

And other reports note that Hodgkinson has one other issue that research suggests connects almost all mass shooters: a history of - in his case alleged - domestic violence.

James Hodgkinson
But none of that will matter. I guarantee you none of that will matter. The right wing will still insist on the collective guilt of the entire left, still insist there is blood on the hands of every American in or out of government, in or out of the Democratic party, who dares to question the bigotry, the selfishness, the greed, the destructiveness, of the right. Because those of the right wing have no conscience and they do not care about truth. They only care about power.

And again, note well: Unlike the lies promulgated by the right in their attempts to "prove" the inherent violence of the left, the examples I have cited were not plucked out of the depths of some comment stream, were not authored by someone you never heard of before and very likely will never hear of again. These are leading voices of the American right wing, some of them with mass audiences.

And what makes it all worse is that all too often what is screeched in the dank halls of the right-wing echo chamber soon enough becomes spoken aloud in the mainstream media.

For example, the Kansas City Star said the shooting "highlights [a] disturbing increase in left-wing violence" but couldn't find space to mention any examples.

CNN's national security analyst, Peter Bergen, described what he called "the return of leftist terrorism," claiming some sort of link with some poorly-described examples involving the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers from 50 years ago.

But for some, even that was too vague and for them the question quickly became resolved to "How much blame does Bernie Sanders bear?"

In an interview with Jane Sanders, Bernie Sanders' wife, to discuss the shooting, Wolf Blitzer demanded to know if Sanders "went too far" when he called TheRump "the worst and most dangerous president" the US has ever had, as if that was a cause of the attack.

And the New York Times, well, the New York Times had a big long article in which it did its best to blame Bernie Sanders without admitting that it was doing it.

It referred to Hodgkinson as a "test for the movement" and an "opportunity for the senator's fans to consider their message," which of course assumes that said "message" is an incitement to murder.

The paper admits that "Sanders has advocated a peaceful political revolution," but then immediately goes on to say that "long before the shooting, some of his supporters had earned a belligerent reputation" and that the shooting "put a new spotlight on the rage buried in some corners of the progressive left."

This is, the article intoned, "a moment for liberals to figure out how to balance anger at Mr. Trump with inciting violence" - which, again, assumes that "inciting violence" is what progressives have been doing.

The whole thing was thick with innuendo. Here's an example, quoted directly from the article:
On Tuesday, Mr. Hodgkinson posted a cartoon on Facebook explaining "How does a bill work?" "That's an easy one, Billy," the cartoon reads. "Corporations write the bill and then bribe Congress until it becomes law."

"That's Exactly How It Works. ...." Mr. Hodgkinson wrote.

That is not far from Mr. Sanders's own message.
This is insane.
Shaun King, a syndicated columnist with the NY Daily News, said it well:
To this very day I work directly with several dozen progressive grassroots organizations fighting for real change in this country. I've attended and hosted and contributed to hundreds of meetings with these organizations. Not once, publicly or privately, did a single person in a single meeting I was a part of ever suggest, explicitly or implicitly, that someone should go do what James Hodgkinson did today. Period.
The blaming, the finger-pointing, the accusations, he didn't use the word, but I will: It's all lies. Lies intended to secure and advance a reactionary right-wing agenda.

Understand: I do believe words can have an impact. I do believe we need to accept responsibility for the meaning of what we say, of the terms we use, of the ideas we express. I do believe we have to be aware of how our words can sound and of the fact that, as I have often said in the past, in communication what you say is not as important as what the other person hears.

What I deny is that the words, the terms, the ideas, of the progressive left have been or are provoking or inciting violence, especially murderous violence. Oh yes, I'm sure if you dig into the bowels of Twitter you can find individual examples of expressions of heinous thoughts or heinous images, and the right wing will search out those isolated examples buried in the mass like some political version of Where's Waldo and then take those isolated examples and claim that the ill behavior or immoral assertion of that one or those few describes the entire progressive movement. And that is, again, a lie. A deliberate lie.

In fact, if you want to see incitement to violence, if you want to see the impacts of incitement, the effects of incitement, the left is not the place to look.

Remember when Ted Nugent called Barack Obama "a subhuman mongrel" who should "suck on my machine gun," called Hillary Clinton a "worthless bitch," and said both deserve to be hanged?

Was any of that incitement?

How about when Bill O'Reilley spent week after week attacking abortion provider Dr. George Tiller as "Tiller the baby killer" until Tiller actually was murdered? Was that incitement?

What about Byron Williams and his failed plot to shoot people at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, where Williams explicitly identified Glenn Beck and Alex Jones as what prompted him to act?

What about Robert Dear, who killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado based on what he heard from Limbaugh and Jones and O'Reilly and the like?

Oh, and what about the guy who shot up a family pizzeria in Washington DC after Alex Jones wanted his audience to investigate the child sex-trafficking ring that Hillary Clinton was supposedly operating out of the building's basement?

Was any of that incitement?

And what of His Orangeness himself? At a campaign rally last August, Donald TheRump suggested that "the Second Amendment people" could maybe deal with Hillary Clinton if she were elected. Was that incitement? Did that go "too far?" Did that have to be "considered?"

At another rally, after being told by security that someone might be planning to throw tomatoes at him, TheRump, who openly yearned for the days when protesters would be carried out on stretchers, told the crowd to "knock the crap out of them. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees." Was that incitement?

And of course there were the celebrations of sexual assault and the denunciations of refugees, of Muslims, of Mexicans, and others. Was any of that incitement?

To the right wing, the answer in each case is "no." None of that was an incitement to violence. None of that "went too far." None of that "message" needed to be "considered."

Despite the fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center documented almost 900 reports of harassment and intimidation in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, with many of those involving people invoking TheRump's name during the assaults, none of it, they insist, was an incitement

Despite the fact that the Anti-Defamation League reported that anti-Semitic incidents in the US jumped 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017 and there has been a surge in violent attacks on Indian Americans and Sikhs, frequently by people thinking they were Muslims or Arabs, none of it, they insist, was an incitement. None of it.

Even as the hate crimes continue, even to torching the memorial to a victim of a previous hate crime. Nope, none of it has a single blessed little thing to do with anything the right said, even when repeated over and over by its loudest voices.

Even when Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, said in response to the Alexandria shooting that we are seeing "The first skirmishes of a second American civil war" - saying that's not metaphorical but "an objective statement of the reality in America" - even that is not an incitement to violence in the eyes of the right.

The hard truth here is that for the right wing, this actually has nothing to do with incitement, it has nothing to do with safety, nothing to do with cooling the rhetoric, and sure as hell has nothing to do with "civility."

It has to do with trying to emotional manipulate and intimidate the left, trying to exploit our natural tendency to pay attention to the impacts of what we do, to worry about unintended effects of what we say, our natural tendency to care about others and our effects on them, to exploit that to make us so hesitant to criticize, so reluctant to run even the hypothetical risk of "going too far," so timorous in our words and deeds, that we offer no effective resistance to their reactionary agenda that would undo moe than a century of progress to serve the desires of a selfish elite.

But the right should know now: We will not be silenced. We will be nonviolent, but we will be aggressive. We will be honest, but we - sometimes - will be rude and crude. We will be understanding - but we will not back down. You wingnuts seem to actually want a second civil war, with all the blood and death that implies. We want the next - and notice I say next because there have been several - the next American revolution, with all the growth and progress that implies. And we will not be turned around by your lies about us.

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