There’s been a lot of this sort of thing recently:
That clip of Glen Beck sums up everything that is wrong with the violent rhetoric from the right-wing. […] That’s wrong — and it’s time for it to stop. We need dissent in this country, but there is no room for those who encourage political violence.
The clip in question compares Obama & Co. to “vampires” and suggests that we must “drive a stake through [their] heart[s]” or risk the economy becoming “undead”. Perhaps this was a dog whistle to FVKs, but I suspect he may have been speaking metaphorically. Or else the Secret Service is going to learn how to defend the President from people carrying point’ed sticks.
The proximate cause of this hand-wringing is that some guy killed three cops because of FOX News. The evidence that FOX made him do it was that he was concerned about “the Zionist-controlled government“. I confess I don’t watch a lot of FOX News, but I don’t think that’s one of their talking points. Come to think of it, I think this guy may have had other influences.
Dave Neiwert – who has written extensively and thoughtfully about the connections between right-wing extremist ideas and and mainstream wingerdom – reproduces this quote from Bill Clinton:
In this country we cherish and guard the right of free speech. We know we love it when we put up with people saying things we absolutely deplore. And we must always be willing to defend their right to say things we deplore to the ultimate degree. But we hear so many loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable. You ought to see — I’m sure you are now seeing the reports of some things that are regularly said over the airwaves in America today.
Well, people like that who want to share our freedoms must know that their bitter words can have consequences and that freedom has endured in this country for more than two centuries because it was coupled with an enormous sense of responsibility on the part of the American people.
If we are to have freedom to speak, freedom to assemble, and, yes, the freedom to bear arms, we must have responsibility as well. And to those of us who do not agree with the purveyors of hatred and division, with the promoters of paranoia, I remind you that we have freedom of speech, too, and we have responsibilities, too. And some of us have not discharged our responsibilities. It is time we all stood up and spoke against that kind of reckless speech and behavior.
If they insist on being irresponsible with our common liberties, then we must be all the more responsible with our liberties. When they talk of hatred, we must stand against them. When they talk of violence, we must stand against them. When they say things that are irresponsible, that may have egregious consequences, we must call them on it. The exercise of their freedom of speech makes our silence all the more unforgivable. So exercise yours, my fellow Americans. Our country, our future, our way of life is at stake.
Which is fine and true, for certain values of “them”, and “things we deplore”, and “people like that”, and “hatred and division” so on. Of course, non of these values are defined, and none of these people are named, which leaves pronouncements like this utterly meaningless. Indeed, there was a time – long ago, in the reckless days of my youth – when I quite literally hated the President of the United States, and said some very divisive things along those lines, possibly involving metaphorical violence, possibly involving the forceable insertion of frozen pineapples into delicate orifices and perhaps breaking into people’s houses and peeing on their pillows and shaving their pets. I seem to recall hearing a lot about “responsible dissent“, and “fever swamps”, and how saying mean things was tantamount to fascism, and I recall thinking that the people saying these things should blow it out their pasty, pockmarked asses. But who can remember, so long ago? The point is, there’s a difference between openly advocating violence and calling people not nice names, or needing to calm the fuck down and stop being such a spaz, or being an idiot, or making shit up, or any of the myriad forms of douchebaggery which are the inevitable result of letting people speak their minds in our infinitely stupid democracy. I’m not saying there’s some invincible firewall between militialand and FOX News – there certainly isn’t – but that doesn’t mean they are the same thing. Being a terrorist and being a crazy loser are distinct modes of being, even if there are occassional overlaps on the reading list. Being vague about this, or purposefully conflating the two, gives cover to the former as it smears the latter.
UPDATE: Obligatory pussy cat-obsessed Krautrock video: