Because There’s No Difference Between Right-Wing Pundits and White Supremacist Thugs…

By now you have probably heard that police in Colorado have uncovered an apparent plot by white supremacists to assassinate Barack Obama.

I was just now skimming through the blog feeds I read when I noticed that Illinois Reason had a post up entitled “Obama assassination plot foiled in Colorado.” The main guy at that blog, Rob Nesvacil, is a rabid anti-conservative who really has it in for the right-wing blogosphere, so as I clicked through to his post, I thought “Wouldn’t it be funny if he was crazy enought to try to blame right-wing pundits for the assassination attempt?”

It turns out he does.

What happens when the one side constantly smears the other as unpatriotic, treacherous and disloyal simply because they disagree with that side’s ideas, no matter how valid they may be…

when they constantly promote six degrees of separation to anyone even remotely considered “bad” (no matter how thin the connection) even though the candidate was never involved in any wrongdoing and has routinely repudiated those others’ despicable acts…

when lie after lie after lie is promulgated to falsely insinuate a candidate either sympathizes with terrorists or is one himself…

when the elitist billionaires of one political side use their money not to do charitable good for society but to tear down any with whom they disagree as if such acidic poison were what our Founding Fathers had always hoped for when fighting a war to launch our independent democracy…

when the most vile of heretical and blasphemous rhetoric is used to lie about a candidate and portray him as not just evil, but perhaps even the Anti-Christ and harbinger of the End Times

…What happens when one side of the political spectrum, through fetid ranting over the course of a great many years, foments rage and anger and promotes and even glorifies violence in order to ‘pump up their base of voters’?

Idiots try to assassinate a presidential candidate, that’s what happens.

It doesn’t matter if they are alleged white supremacists or hopped up on meth. Something clearly pushed these people over the edge to think murder was somehow acceptable. Rational and sane folks do not simply load up a high-powered rifle and work on an assassination plot; something or someone prods them toward that disastrous destination.

This is the same sort of dubious “reasoning” that caused some liberal pundits to blame conservative pundits for the bombing in Oklahoma City because conservatives were against big government and, you know, the bombers blew up a government building.

13 Responses to Because There’s No Difference Between Right-Wing Pundits and White Supremacist Thugs…

  1. Mark,

    “Rabid anti-conservative?”

    My conservative friends will be heart-broken to learn this. ;)

    I didn’t “blame” conservative pundits for the attempt (if it even really amounts to an “attempt” given the apparent flimsiness of the “operation”).

    Rather, I pointed out that the conservative partisanry’s constant droning of anti-liberal hatred creates an atmosphere which leads the irrational among to even conceive of such plots. Try clicking the links I provided to read the context — from the national to local fare.

    And yes, in regards to the Oklahoma City domestic terrorism, there was a very clear connection between conservative pundit and ex-convict G. Gordon Liddy suggesting folks should shoot ATF agents in the head and Tim McVeigh and crew acting out that part of conservatives-gone-too-far, with obviously deadly consequences. Folks in McVeigh’s terrorist cell listened to Liddy’s program.

    Yes, Mark, there is a difference between right-wing pundits and white supremacist thugs… just as there’s a difference between progressive thinkers and goofball anarchist punks. But without care it’s all to easy for the opinion writers to foment the very sort of violence that led to the OKC bombing and to these meth-heads thinking it’d be a good idea to plan on murdering a presidential candidate.

    In fact, one of the first stops on Jerome Corsi’s book launch tour was on a known racist’s radio program. Mr. Corsi of course is the conservative pundit who authored the recent anti-Obama, fallacy-based screed “Obama Nation”.

    Go figure that a few days later a cell of white supremacists would take it upon themselves to load up some rifles and head for Denver…

    Right-wing pundits didn’t make those 4 idiots do what they did. They simply created an atmosphere where it’s not too far a leap for those 4 to think it’s somehow “rational” to do so in order to take care of “a problem”.

    (PS – You and I agree on a bit more than you probably realize.)

  2. What Rob_N is doing — whether maliciously and deliberately or stupidly and ignorantly I dunno — is eliding the difference between harsh and perhaps arguably over-the-top criticism and (presumably unwitting) encouragement of assassination.

    He’s wrong. It’s not a trivial difference; it’s a deep and profound difference.

  3. Joel,

    The point you are missing (“whether maliciously and deliberately or stupidly and ignorantly I dunno”) is that for people as unstable as, say, Tim McVeigh or these Colorado meth-heads there is little if any difference between the “over-the-top criticism” (and lies, you’re also overlooking the lies) and “encouragement of assassination” (even if unwitting)…

    Rational people such as yourself, me and Mr. Draughn may be able to easily discern the difference, and we do every day. But, for the crackpots out there this prolific sort of loathing-by-words can provide a nudge past the precipice from sanity to insanity and on to loathing-by-deed.

    If you are worried about national security, what do you do to someone if you are led to believe may be a terrorist or associated with terrorists? Witness the plethora of conservatives playing the six degrees of separation game between Obama and such entities as the Weather Underground, Hamas, and even Chicago’s murderous street gangs, etc. McCain supporters, as I originally noted, are funding just such ads.

    If you are worried about our American way of life, what do you do to someone who is portrayed as a real-life “Manchurian candidate”? Witness the plethora of false chain-emails and Internet hoaxes about Obama’s upbringing.

    If you are a devout Christian willing to do battle for your faith, what do you do to someone others claim (in all sincerity) is the anti-Christ? Again, witness the variety of Dominionist writings which attempt to connect the dots on what they claim as “evidence” that Obama just might be

  4. Oh, there’s violent nutcases, left and right, and undoubtedly, when they go off, gormless commentators, right and (like yourself) left, will accuse them of having encouraged the bad behavior; it’s cheap, dishonest rhetoric, but it’s common.

  5. Witness the plethora of conservatives playing the six degrees of separation game between Obama and such entities as the Weather Underground, Hamas, and even Chicago’s murderous street gangs, etc. McCain supporters, as I originally noted, are funding just such ads.

    With all due respect, Rob, your “6 degrees of separation game” is bunk — I *do* care who Obama associates with. I find his association with Bill Ayers to be highly disturbing. His repeated assertion that Ayers’ actions took place when he was 8 is more bunk — I was 8 too, but it bothers me to no end. If I could get Ayers fired for his terrorist activities, I would. If he could be prosecuted, I would support it.

    Obama, on the other hand, was 40 when Bill Ayers made the comment about “not doing enough” when asked about the bombings. Somehow, that rhetoric doesn’t encourage me either… and when you add it up with Michelle’s not being proud comment, Barrack’s lapel pin fiasco and not covering his heart for the national anthem, etc. I believe it does show a clear and convincing pattern of behavior or at the very least, a poor attitude about America.

    As to the McCain supporters paying for the ads — if they didn’t, who would — Obama supporters? I think not…

  6. Rob, I think what you’re doing is similar to right-wingers who insist that any criticism of the war on terror “emboldens the enemy.” Technically, they may even be right: Violent extremists who have no experience of our form of government may well confuse debate with weakness. But free and vigorous debate is vital to our democracy, and we should not let our enemies dictate the form of our democracy.

    Similarly, while you don’t “blame” conservative pundits directly for the assassination plot, the structure of your post sure implies some culpability on their part, at least for creating the atmosphere in which such violent plots are formed. That may even be technically true, but I don’t think it’s a good reason to squelch healthy debate. We shouldn’t allow the worst among us so much influence.

    Consider that it’s almost certainly true that John Hinckley probably wouldn’t have tried to kill Ronald Reagan if Jodie Foster hadn’t starred in Taxi Driver. That doesn’t mean that she or anyone else involved in that movie is culpable for for Hinckley’s actions.

    Yes, many of the conservative pundits are rude, narrow-minded, viscious, and just plain wrong. But they should be attacked on that basis, not because of what some crazy violent thugs are or are not motivated to do.

    By the way, Rob, I’m aware that we probably agree on a number of substantive issues, which only makes it more frustrating that you come at a lot of these things from a direction that seems unproductive to me. Oh well, I still check out all your new stuff.

  7. Rob, I would also like to point out that your site says “Idiots try to assassinate a presidential candidate, that’s what happens.” Yet, the Snap Shot for the CBS 4 Denver story says “Police Investigate Possible Plot to Kill Obama” — that’s not exactly the same thing! I haven’t seen any stories (yet) suggesting that there was an actual attempt on Obama’s life…

  8. ProphetJoe, I haven’t read enough to be sure, but the Ayers stuff bothers me too.

    On the other hand, the Rezko stuff is boring. A Chicago politician with shady connections is so “dog bites man.” I don’t see how having a little local dirt on him makes him a bad president. (Granted, it doesn’t help.) Likewise, I don’t care much about the national anthem or at all about the lapel pin.

    I’m more worried about things like his anti-free-trade rhetoric, his support of card-check, his plan to pour tax dollars into the mortgage crisis, his healthcare plan, his idea of a living wage, and his plans for national service. I also worry about his lack of executive experience, and I’d like to hear him say something about reducing executive power.

    I could, of course, make a similar list about McCain.

  9. Joel,

    If you don’t think hate-filled, violent rhetoric doesn’t lead people over the edge then you may need to check out a Psych 101 class some day.


    Fair enough point on the semantics between “try to assassinate” and “possible plot to kill”. I was using this particular event and these particular nuts to highlight what I see as the potential (perhaps even likely, sad as that is) results of the problem of constantly heating up such hatred and divisiveness in our politics. Perhaps it was too “elitist” and “extistential”. ;)

    I did note in my original comment here on Mark’s post the circus clown nature of the plot by saying: “if it even really amounts to an “attempt” given the apparent flimsiness of the “operation””…

    As for your gripes about Obama, are you a Barr fan or a Nader fan?

    Similar, or worse, can be said of Sen. McCain and his wife if you care to go there (including the fact McCain does not wear a flag pin himself; and seems to rely on his POW status as an unfortunate crutch by pulling it out every time anyone criticizes him in the least, rendering his past bravery near meaningless).

    Mark, etc.,

    I’m surprised to see comments complaining about Bill Ayers’ actions (understandably complaining, mind you — I don’t condone them either) but near simultaneously overlooking of the actions of convicts like G. Gordon Liddy who suggested people should shoot Federal agents in the head.

    Neither person’s actions are acceptable. But the comments here suggest that Ayers essentially be ostracized from any and all while folks like Liddy be … left to his own devices.

    Obama has repudiated Ayers’ actions (I believe the phrase he used was “heinous crimes”). But the two aren’t fishing buddies and no one can claim with a straight face that Obama would ever commit the same sort of violence.

  10. Rob said: “As for your gripes about Obama, are you a Barr fan or a Nader fan?

    No. I’ve yet to find a politician on the national stage who really mirrors my political leanings. I think Reagan turned out to be a good leader in many respects, but frankly I didn’t actively support him in 1980 — he was too much of the “consummate campaigner” for me.

    Aside from Reagan, I would only count Teddy Roosevelt and possibly Eisenhower and Kennedy as good Presidents in the 20th century. But let’s face it, most presidents are elected based upon their charisma and political connections rather than their character or intelligence. Honestly, I think the people would learn more about candidates if they were required to write a 10-20 page manifesto about their political (sorry, no speech writers or ghost writers allow) views. We would probably learn more about them and their thought process and focus less on their camera presence and sound bites. Debates could be replaced by public essays — have a moderator give the candidates a question and then lock them each in a room for 30 minutes — let’s see what they would come up with! I think most people would be shocked…


  11. ProphetJoe,

    In an ideal world your idea of writing a “Why I want to be president” certainly would help the American people understand their candidates — and kindergarten theme papers don’t count… ;)

    And I agree with just about everything else you said in your last post, even about Reagan. I may not have agreed with many of his policies (I think we’re still feeling the ill effects of several of the things he implemented) but he was the right sort of president at the right moment in America’s history.

    I’d also add a couple more Dems to your list of worthy 20th C. presidents, but I suspect you may disagree with my suggestions. ;)

    And this line was spot on: “But let’s face it, most presidents are elected based upon their charisma and political connections rather than their character or intelligence.”


  12. Rob N, when you’re trying to get along with someone you become so unctuous that it’s nauseating. I don’t know what’s worse, when you’re unbearably unpleasant or unbearably pleasant. Either way, it comes across as hollow and phony.

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