Sunday, July 25, 2010

Are Far Right Politicians Inciting Violence? Perish The Thought


In their awesome new book, Over The Cliff-- How Obama's Election Drove The American Right Insane, John Amato and Dave Neiwert carefully document the dramatic uptick in violence, threats and domestic terrorism since President Obama was elected, much of it-- if not most of it-- driven by unadulterated racism. Amato and Neiwert make the case, and more convincingly than anyone else, that the violence and paranoia have been stoked by the ranting and raving of the right wing media, from Hate Talk Radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham to Fox News hosts like Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, the sole source of information for many of the most demented perpetrators.
Obama’s election appeared to feed extremist right-wing paranoia and inspire violent fantasies of a “revolution.” On February 27 in Florida, for example, a mentally ill man named Dannie Baker walked up to the window outside the recreation room of a Miramar Beach apartment complex and opened fire on the gathering of Chilean exchange students therein, killing two people-- Nicolas Corp, 23, and Racine Balbontin, 22-- and wounding three others. After police arrested the 60-year-old Baker at his apartment, neighbors told reporters that Baker had asked them if they were ready for a “revolution”-- and warned them that if they were harboring illegal immigrants, to get them out.

Baker had worked as a local volunteer for the Republican Party during George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns. However, when Baker turned out to volunteer in 2008, his mental state had
apparently deteriorated; a county GOP official said he “just made people feel uncomfortable,” so they asked him to stay away.

Baker fired off a number of angry e-mails to GOP officials, which so disturbed and alarmed them that they turned them over to the Walton County sheriff, who did nothing. In one e-mail, Baker wrote: “The Washington D.C. Dictators have already confessed to rigging elections in our States for their recruiting dictators to overthrow us with foreign illegals here, and have allowed them to kill and run for office in the States to extend their influence into our States.” In another missive, Baker claimed there is a plot to “give our homeland to foreign states and their representatives here in America. Lets execute them and reinstate a legal government that will do something for us.”

Especially remarkable about the Baker case was how little attention it attracted in the United States. In Chile and much of Latin America, the Miramar Beach shootings were front-page national news. Francisco Vidal, the Chilean government minister, denounced the crime as “macabre” and “brutal.” The deputy consul general personally oversaw the return of the two students’ bodies to their homeland. One of the ironies of the murders was that the students were not “illegal immigrants”-- they were studying abroad as part of an exchange program, and all of them planned to return to Chile. In the end, Baker was found incompetent to stand trial and remanded to the custody of the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee for treatment; if he regains competency within five years, he will then stand trial. The story again received no attention outside of Walton County.

Similarly, the case of James Cummings received little national attention. After a day or so of headlines, the case of the Tennessee skinheads and their assassination plot [against Obama] disappeared from the news. And no one, outside of a handful of reporters, followed up on the Denver would-be assassins and Troy Eid’s nonfeasance.

That’s because the mainstream media have their preferred narratives and stick to them like glue. The preferred narrative when it came to these violent acts committed by right-wing extremists was that these were all “isolated incidents” with no connection, no set of radical belief systems that wove them together, and, most of all, nothing to connect them to the hyperbole from mainstream conservatives. As Glenn Beck said, these were just nutcases who had nothing to do with anything he or his fellow right-wing pundits told people.

Perish the thought. If you dared harbor or express it-- as Beck also made abundantly clear-- then you were just trying to silence and oppress poor helpless right-wing pundits. That was the conservative way, and it was about to become one of their favorite and most repeated themes.

And perish the thought that anyone would connect this violence to extremist politicians like Steve King (R-IA), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Paul Broun (R-GA) or any number of radical right hacks embracing bitherism and other divisive memes intended to drive wedges between Obama and confused, frightened, angry white people who are being told that their world is under attack. No one can deny that the extremists who flocked to Bachmann's House Tea Party Caucus are the ones making serial incendiary comments and are the ones working the hardest to undermine Obama's efforts to rescue the economy. Yesterday at Netroots Nation Paul Hodes (D-NH) referred to this crew as "extremist, obstructionist, lying hypocrites who think you don't have to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest but are holding up help for the neediest." But working families are the only thing these partisan hacks have in their sites.

Paul Broun, a vicious and unrepentant racist, has repeatedly flown his KKK flag when discussing the President and was one of the first members of Congress to accuse Obama of trying to install a Marxist dictatorship. "That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," the demented Georgia reactionary told his already very right-wing and paranoid constituents. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist... We can't be lulled into complacency. You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential of going down that road." Broun has repeatedly suggested that the President isn't a U.S. citizen and that he may be a Muslim.

Bachmann's entire career seems to be based around mixing religious fanaticism and McCarthyism with fundraising for herself. “I said I had very serious concerns that Barack Obama had anti-American views and now I look like Nostradamus.”

Iowa psychopath Steve King has made even more inflammatory statements:
"I don't want to disparage anyone because of their race, their ethnicity, their name-- whatever their religion their father might have been," I'll just say this: When you think about the optics of a Barack Obama potentially getting elected President of the United States-- I mean, what does this look like to the rest of the world? What does it look like to the world of Islam? I will tell you that, if he is elected president, then the radical Islamists, the al-Qaida, the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11 because they will declare victory in this War on Terror. Additionally, his middle name (Hussein) does matter. It matters because they read a meaning into that in the rest of the world... If he were strong on national defense and said 'I'm going to go over there and we're going to fight and we're going to win, we'll come home with a victory,' that's different. But that's not what he said. They will be dancing in the streets if he's elected president. That has a chilling aspect on how difficult it will be to ever win this Global War on Terror."

This is a guy who coddles crooked K Street lobbyists, appeals to racism at every opportunity, and defends and lionizes domestic terrorists. On the radio with convicted traitor G. Gordon Liddy, King told Liddy's neo-Nazi audience of volatile conspiracy freaks that "The president has demonstrated that he has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race-- on the side that favors the black person."

You may not want to call it incitement. The media certainly doesn't. I do-- absolutely. Watch Arizona closet case Trent Franks (R-AZ) calling Obama "an enemy of humanity" and tell me what else it can possibly be if not incitement:

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At 2:12 PM, Blogger Celestite said...

So how did we get to where foaming at the mouth is 'journalism' and attempting to refute it is socialism or communism or some other misused label?

At 2:59 PM, Blogger Bob In Pacifica said...

No mention about Byron Williams? The ex-con who got into a shootout with the CHP on his way to mass murdering people at the offices of the ACLU and the Tides Foundation.

The only person on television who's been talking about Tides is Glenn Beck, just a few days before this guy decides to shoot it up. Somehow Williams does not look like the type who does a whole lot of research on non-profits.

At 8:06 AM, Anonymous Balakirev said...

The Bachmann image was to the life. Caught her inner soul.


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