Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

April 19, 2010

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO TODAY.... With the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing today, it's worth remembering the horrific tragedy, the hate that inspired it, and the 168 victims of the extremists' terrorism. It was, at the time, the deadliest act of domestic terrorism on U.S. soil ever.

It's also worth taking a moment to acknowledge the cultural context, and the legitimate concerns that contemporary right-wing hysteria could create an environment that leads violent American radicals to commit another heinous act. Kathleen Parker's latest column asks, "Is the political environment becoming so toxic that we could see another Timothy McVeigh emerge? No one knows the answer, but fears that anger could escalate into action beyond the ballot box are not misplaced."

For those of us who follow American politics closely, the developments are common enough to become dizzying. The death threats against Democratic lawmakers. The "reload" and "revolution" rhetoric from unhinged Republican leaders. The constant and overheated attacks on the legitimacy of the Obama presidency and the federal government. The talk of secession and militias from prominent far-right voices.

Parker notes that "the unthinkable becomes plausible" under such toxic circumstances.

The challenge for all, but especially the media, is to find a balance between vigilance and restraint. How do we expose the unhinged without emboldening them with attention? Inevitably, the lone operator hears his own name summoned from the crowd.

The only palatable answer is what conservatives say they love best: self-control and personal responsibility. When someone spews obscenities, shout them down. When politicians and pundits use inflammatory language, condemn them.

When you choose to remain silent, consider yourself complicit in whatever transpires.

In some ways, the silence troubles me nearly as much as the extremism itself. I want desperately to hear Republican Party officials and leaders make clear that they find overheated madness to be offensive and wrong.

But they don't, because they can't -- Republicans are counting on rage to win elections and fill their campaign coffers. So the party makes Palin a hero, it puts Bachmann in front of the cameras, it sweeps Steve King's sympathies towards domestic terrorism under the rug, it tolerates GOP leaders equating the party with the Taliban, and it decides it can try to lower the temperature at some later date, perhaps after the midterms.

Here's hoping that's not too late.

Steve Benen 10:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

You are so right. And I have recently sent out emails to my email list saying exactly that - if you don't speak out against this hate rhetoric and viciousness you are complicit and your silence is the same as agreeing with what is going on.

Posted by: lisaintexas on April 19, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats need to run on the fall on the theme of responsibility....both in terms of being responsible enough to actually govern (whereas the GOP reflexively says no to everything), and in terms of having the personal responsibility not to incite violence.

Posted by: mfw13 on April 19, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

And a terrorist attack gives them a chance to say Obama can't keep you safe like we (the Republicans) did so don't hold your breath waiting for them to speak out against it, they want it!

Posted by: Pat on April 19, 2010 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Always worth remembering while listening to the predictable flood of right-wing lies about non-existent "liberal violence". This and a hundred other things.

Posted by: DH Walker on April 19, 2010 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Classic case of spitting the middle

Parker:

At a Tea Party rally in Washington, some claim that racial slurs were aimed at, of all people, Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights hero.


Posted by: koreyel on April 19, 2010 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

This is a little OT, but does anyone else notice white people acting strange these days... I mean beyond the Tea Parties?

Last night, my Hispanic wife and I were walking around our neighborhood (I am a small-town, Southern WASP by birth, BTW). It seemed in general that white people (with a couple of exceptions) neither greeted us nor smiled.

We ran into a black gentleman who was very friendly. He commented on how happy he was to see kind faces "for a change"; that people just hadn't been very friendly lately.

I simply remarked that "there are still a few of us left" but I didn't dare press him on whether he felt he was being snubbed mostly by white people or by people in general.

It all seemed very weird, but perhaps I'm paranoid?

Posted by: JTK on April 19, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Self aggrandizement precludes speaking out against fellow travelers. For examples see the recent treatment of Republicans who dare to stray from the prescribed path.

Posted by: DAY on April 19, 2010 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

No JTK you are not paranoid. Sorry!

Posted by: lisaintexas on April 19, 2010 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Ever wonder how the Daily Oklahoman managed not to win a Pulitzer for the bombing coverage? Their own downtown offices were damaged by the blast.

Go look at the Daily Disappointment's editorial pages before the bombing, particularly those on Waco. Just have anti-venom handy.

Posted by: OKDem on April 19, 2010 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

I should have pointed out in my post @ 10:37 that I do not currently live in the rural South. I live in a major US city in a very ethnically diverse neighborhood.

Posted by: JTK on April 19, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

You can speak out against this all you like, if it makes you feel better, but it won't make much difference. What's driving the madness is a combination of historically bad economic times and the ruthless opportunism of right wing politicians and their mouthpieces.

The GOP and its Wurlitzer is stoking this because they think it will help them politically (or in the case of the gasbags, it'll bring them listeners). They'll stop only if they think it will damage them. Having liberals complaining just adds resonance, as far as their audience is concerned.

Posted by: jimBOB on April 19, 2010 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

In 1980-1981, 15 years before the Oklahoma City right wing terrorist attack, Newt Gingrich (the future of the Republican party) began planting the seeds of rage with his and his colleagues' one-minute speeches in the empty House on CSPAN.

Then and there was the hatred and fear sparked that has grown beyond Herr Gingrich's wildest imagination (well, maybe not that far -- but maybe soon, huh, Newt?)

It might be (or already has been an excellent piece of research, to unearth these zombie speeches begun thirty years ago, and note the rhetoric, the buzz words, and the war-like animosity...
Gingrich's rise to power paralleled this extremist Repugnant party -- Gingrich and his fellow travelers took over the party and turned it into the thing it is today.

Posted by: neill on April 19, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

What makes the mind spin is how fast repubs can pull a complete 180. 7 years ago it was treasonous to even question the actions of the President and the US government. Today, when they're out of power, they seem to think it's a patriotic duty to hamstring the President at every turn. They want to cripple the very same US government that they held above question when they had the wheel. But what's truly astounding is that they mount this BS without anything beyond fearful soundbites and sweeping generalizations. It's like they only have the same two solutions to any issue:

1)Shut up and do what we say.
2)No.

Posted by: JoeW on April 19, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

When someone spews obscenities, shout them down.

Not sure this would be effective.
They just skulk off somewhere and find people that agree with them. I'd sooner calmly question the most egregious fallacies and sow seeds of doubt. People in doubt don't take action.

Witness global warming. We can use the same technique for the cause of good to sabotage homophobia, xenophobia, racism and nihilism.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on April 19, 2010 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Having visited a few tea parties it seems to me that they are intelligent enough to realize that the only way to change things is at the ballot box.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on April 19, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

"And a terrorist attack gives them a chance to say Obama can't keep you safe like we (the Republicans) did so don't hold your breath waiting for them to speak out against it, they want it!"

911. They certainly didn't keep us safe.

But I do agree, they want nothing more, they're drooling over the prospect of an incident on Obama's watch. Personally, I think all of the venomous rhetoric coming from the marquee names of the Republican Party is intended to cause some sort of violence.

The best that can happen is some major bust of a domestic terrorist group, and quotes from a big name like Palin or Limbaugh or Beck or Boehner turns up in their literature.

Posted by: SaintZak on April 19, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

One does not initiate the chain reaction of a nuclear detonation---and then expect the reaction to simply go away.

My concerns right now are about the ugly gang of gun-toting thuds in and around Prince George's Park....

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 19, 2010 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Nichols and McVeigh 0, US Justice 1. game set and match. I just watched a video of a TP protest that turned violent ( and some protests will do that as emotions get heated up ) and how quickly it diffused once police on the scene.
But then, if something does happen, the media buzzards will hop around the corpse of a fresh kill and say to each other "All I know is that we were here, and then the hyenas and lions came in and it was a gang war"....

Posted by: johnnymags on April 19, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

At a Tea Party rally in Washington, some claim that racial slurs were aimed at, of all people, Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights hero.

Shorter Kathleen Parker: Yeah, he's a civil rights hero, but he can't quite be trusted to tell the truth about slurs "allegedly" aimed at him.

What a tool she is.

Posted by: shortstop on April 19, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

when it comes to critizing fellow republicans, the gop aren't about to go there...exhibit a: all the teabaggers who now CLAIM they were agin' bushie's deficit spending but chose to stay home on the porch rather than assemble in the city park..

Posted by: dj spellchecka on April 19, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

I have always found the corporations' officers support for this proto-violent strain of Republicanism rather odd... mostly the people who run corporations desire stability above all... that way they can adjust to the market. When everything is flux and violent.. corporations (except for those which make and sell guns) make less money... and pull out of markets.. examples of this can be found from Palistine, to Israel, to Mexico, to columbia etc...

Murdoch and crew may be getting better ratings, but when things are violent or protot violent consumer confidence drops...

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 19, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Four Words:
War On Domestic Terrorism

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on April 19, 2010 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK
It's like they only have the same two solutions to any issue:

1)Shut up and do what we say.
2)No.

You can build a society on that that will last for a millennium, if you control the churches and don't mind a certain level of violence. It was called the middle ages.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on April 19, 2010 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Having visited a few tea parties it seems to me that they are intelligent enough to realize that the only way to change things is at the ballot box.
Posted by: TruthPolitik on April 19, 2010 at 11:11 AM

However... Should the results of the ballot box displease us, there's always plan B, or the *bullet* box. As Rep Virginia Foxx (of North Carolina) so gently reminded us.

Posted by: exlibra on April 19, 2010 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans embrace these juvenile, bullying tactics, the political equivalent of a playground temper tantrum, because they are hoping we will all get so sick of it that we will let them back into power just so they'll shut up.

The horrible thing is - it might work.

Posted by: Virginia on April 19, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Despite the despicable comment regarding John Lewis being denigrated by some product of too many Southern cousins marrying each other over too many generations, the fact that even Kathleen Parker can get worried about this is proof to me that there is cause for worry.

Too bad we can't bring out The Old Guard - the Second Division - and remove their guns from their cold dead hands at the Confederate Treason Rally today.

Posted by: TCinLA on April 19, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Here's hoping that's not too late".

The GOP has dived off the deep end. The laws of gravity are now in effect. It will never regain its footing. Where it is concerned, there's no such thing as a "political off year" any more. The days when its hyper-charged political rhetoric simmers down after an election are gone for good.

The modern day republican party forged the era of The Perpetual Campaign-- albeit one aimed solely against the democrat party. And that's where it fouled up. Their masterminds never paused to consider that such continual warfare might turn inter-mural.

Posted by: JW on April 19, 2010 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

What I don't get is all of the hubub I keep reading about that the independent voters are moving toward voting for the republicans in the next election.

Aren't these people paying attention?

Posted by: Sammy on April 19, 2010 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK
Post a comment









Remember personal info?










 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly