Saturday, October 11, 2008

Stop the Hate

Of course, we condemn any and every instance of hateful rhetoric, extremist accusations, lies, distortions, and death threats aimed at our political leaders. These actions damage our public institutions and constrain the ability of our elected leaders to do what is necessary for good of the country. It poisons the minds of easily fooled and polarizes our fellow citizens into ideological camps unable to cooperate and compromise with their political opposition.

Unfortunately, according to several news accounts of late. this behavior has become all to common in the public discourse. We call on those participating in these actions to immediately cease, to recognize their mistakes and the dangers they are provoking, and to make public apologies to those they have slandered and harmed with their rhetoric.

Let the apologies begin with these people:

Jim Walsh, snickering about the possibility of the President getting killed, in both the City Pages and MinnPost.

I'm here to say that Ike Reilly stood on a stage at an amusement park in Shakopee, Minnesota last night, in front of 200 or so hardy souls in f*cking hats and gloves and down coats, fending off winter and celebrating Halloween and Friday the 13th, and sang "Who says you can't take a shot at a president?" and "We're drinking to your assassination" three weeks before Election Day. And those might not have even been the best moments

Rage Against the Machine for calling for the execution (then, followed by a criminal trial) of the President.

The Star Tribune editorial board for their series of vicious slanders and poisonous distortions about the President and his activities.

.... should the right insist on trying to force-feed America its radical social agenda, the 2006 midterm elections could bring real congressional grief to the Republicans. This is still a centrist, tolerant society, and any effort to remake it into a conservative theocracy will bring swift, decisive repudiation.

Andrew Zimmern and Adam Platt at MSP Magazine for a steady stream of irresponsible hatred and lies directed toward the current President and the current Republican Presidential and VP candidate.

I have been in a major funk ever since the book-banning scourge of Wasilla, Alaska, was nominated for the Veep seat on the GOP ticket. She is a Bush clone of the highest order, and her selection shows that her running mate is no maverick, just a brain-dead moron for selecting her as his potential second in command.

How can a major party, check that, even a minor one, put forth this lunatic as a candidate for office?

.... don't these Republicans know the country hates their war, their abrogation of the Constitution, their manipulation of science, their attempts to politicize every once-sober function of government, and their attempts to label anyone who would disagree with them as unpatriotic?

Steve Perry at the Minnesota Independent for deranged fear mongering about the nature of our Presidential and VP candidates.

On November 2 we won't be voting for anything like the measure of change we deserve the chance to vote for. We will be casting our ballots in a referendum on whether we wish to pause and reconsider our march toward a homegrown American fascism

Sarah Palin emerges from the most militaristic strand of contemporary evangelicalism; her brand of incipient theocracy excites the Christian base like nothing in living memory.

All the mainstream Democrats and good citizens of the Twin Cities who have happily marched in rallies over the past eight years (including most recently at the RNC) calling the President, among other things, a murder, lunatic, Nazi, and a terrorist. (Example here, scroll down to March 26.)

And, finally, the handful of idiots showing up at recent John McCain rallies:

A sense of grievance spilling into rage has gripped some GOP events this week as McCain supporters see his presidential campaign lag against Obama. Some in the audience are making it personal, against the Democrat. Shouts of "traitor," "terrorist," "treason," "liar," and even "off with his head" have rung from the crowd at McCain and Sarah Palin rallies, and gone unchallenged by them.

The Secret Service confirmed Friday that it had investigated an episode reported in The Washington Post in which someone in Palin's crowd in Clearwater, Fla., shouted "kill him," on Monday, meaning Obama.

Palin, at a fundraiser in Ohio on Friday, told supporters "it's not negative and it's not mean-spirited" to scrutinize Obama's iffy associations.

But Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania an author of 15 books on politics, says the vitriol has been encouraged by inflammatory words from the stage.

"Red-meat rhetoric elicits emotional responses in those already disposed by ads using words such as 'dangerous' 'dishonorable' and 'risky' to believe that the country would be endangered by election of the opposing candidate," she said.

All of you, it's time to grown up and act like responsible citizens or shut the bleep up entirely. The future of our democracy depends on it. Thank you.

Post script: You may have noticed that only the last group has provoked front page articles deploring this irresponsible rhetoric and speculating on what affect it may be having on the nation as a whole. The press rightly condemns it now, as it pertains to Obama. Whereas, when it pertained to Bush, the press was more likely to participate in it than condemn it.

If the Democrats win the White House in November, I expect the institutional voices who have lead the Bush and Republican hate machine to be leading their next lynch mob against anyone who would dare level similar rhetoric against Obama.

Summarized in another way by the prescient Victor Davis Hanson back in June of this year:

.... the Left will suddenly wake up and realize that over the last eight years the country and indeed the English-speaking liberal world have done enormous damage to public discourse in reprehensibly and shamefully promulgating films, books, and essays about hating and, indeed, killing a President.

After destroying the protocols of good taste and decorum, an infantile 60s generation in their age and sobriety will now understand that they themselves (see Thucydides on Corcyra) are likewise in need of some shared standards of public expression, rightly fathoming that such easy venom weakens a free society.

Yes, the Left will suddenly adopt a new maturity about a President Obama, and responsibly demand of us all to excise from our vocabulary over the top hate speech, such as comparing an elected administration to Nazis or fantasies about killing American presidents.

And this, once again, will be as it should be -- albeit eight years too late.