I don’t know about you, but I was raised to believe that the pen is mightier than the sword, and when I studied the French Revolution in History class, I admit freely that I was sickened by Jean-Paul Marat, and I felt a certain affinity for Charlotte Corday, the assassin who silenced with a dagger the violent rhetoric that spawned the Reign of Terror. And she did so because she was convinced — and rightly so — that the hateful, vile, poisonous rhetoric of Marat was destroying her country, was directly responsible for the September Massacres and was hurtling her country toward civil war. In short — Marat was the Sarah Palin of the French Revolution and his paper, The Friend of the People was her Faceook page.
In the short term, Marat became a martyr, but history has been far kinder to Corday and held the contemptible little man to proper account.
I do not want history to repeat itself and I certainly do not want Sarah Palin to be a martyr.
I want her to be forgotten.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that is going to happen.
Not with so many on the right doubling down and circling the wagons around their Mean Girl leader. Indeed, Bloody Bill Kristol is accusing me of “McCarthyism” for criticizing her for her role in lowering the discourse of this country.
But damnit, she is culpable.
And Bill Kristol damn well knows it. And so does Sarah Palin. That is why her first instinct upon hearing that the shooting had happened, before the names of the victims were even known, she was scrubbing her website and her facebook page. But the violent imagery and rhetoric is so pervasive that short of taking the sites down completely, there is simply no way to eradicate it.
Fox News knows she bears some responsibility, too. That is why, as soon as her name was mentioned by an attendee of a candlelight vigil that the network was covering, they cut the feed, proving once and for all that they are not a news organization, but a propaganda organ for the hard-right radicals and would-be fascists in this country. They don’t want to risk reality and awareness encroaching on the minds of the least-informed, most-misinformed, news consumers on the planet.
And Ross Douthat does, too. That is why he contorted himself like a pretzel in his column today trying to put responsibility for political violence on the shoulders of the left — as if this country even had a “left.” Douthat harkens back to the 60s to make his case — Oswalt was a ‘Marxist of sorts’ and George Wallace was shot and paralyzed by someone who wasn’t all that interested in politics at all, he just wanted to shoot someone prominent and he couldn’t get close enough to Nixon. But he actually inadvertently bolsters the opposite case, and that is that words matter.
Not so much to you and me and other rational, thinking people. We can put the rhetoric in context. But we know that there are irrational and disturbed people out there, and political opponents seem to have forgotten that when prominent people — like the new Speaker of the House — say things like “he may be a dead man” about a member of the opposite party, like Boehner did about Rep. Driehaus after he voted for the healthttp://blogs.pitch.com/plog/2010/03/emanuel_cleaver_spit_on_–_now_with_video.phphcare bill, some of the less-stable will take your words to heart. A right wing blog posted directions to his house, and the death threats started. Here in Missouri, anti-healthcare reform zealots took a coffin to Representative Carnahan’s home and burned him in effigy. And don’t forget that my Congressman was spit on.
Given all that, this doubling-down on the part of the right wing is at the same time expected, yet unbelievable.
Only someone with a pathological level of cognitive dissonance could argue that the discourse on the right has no responsibility, even though we just had an election season that saw a Senate candidate in Nevada talking about “Second Amendment remedies”. Before that we had a Congresswomen from Minnesota look into television cameras and say, sincerely, that she wanted her constituents “armed and dangerous” in opposition to climate change legislation.
This all matters, and what happened Saturday was a symptom of the cancer that is destroying our society.
See, here is the thing everyone forgets about dog-whistles — it isn’t just your dog that hears it when you blow one. Other dogs in the vicinity hear it too, and if one of them is already quite mad, the results can be what we saw Saturday.
So unless — pardon the pun — that is what the media and the right wing noise machine are shooting for, then they need to shut the fuck up.