Saturday, January 8, 2011

Step One:

Dehumanize your opponents, but deny you are doing so. Make it look as if you're merely "reflecting" "grass roots" sentiments, rather than sowing them.

Step Two: Accuse your opponents of doing what you're doing (even though they're not) because a) it provides an excuse for what you're doing- you DO have to defend yourself, right?- and b) if they're doing it too, it must be okay. WaPo:
When asked about the Palin target map, Beck said: "I don't know. It's really easy in the context of what happened this morning to look back and say, 'I don't know if this was such a bright idea.' At the same time, there are other politicians from the other side of the political spectrum who have said similar military-style sayings. Do I really believe they are intending harm on people? No."
Step Three: Portray your opponents as existential threat to yourself and people like you. "They will come for us and put us into concentration camps." (Image from Balloon Juice) Step Four: Use continuous and escalating language calling for violence. Symbols and metaphors of guns, death, and targets associated with your opponents will plant and nourish the seeds you want growing. (Images from FDL)

Step Five: When a deranged loon inevitably takes your rhetoric literally, and kills and/or wounds your opponent(s), and possibly other bystanders, express shock at events no one could have foreseen, and outrage that some might want to hold you accountable for your actions and rhetoric.

Step Six: Lather, rinse, repeat.

Step Seven: Profit. Krugman:
You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.
But of course they won't, nor will commercial media, particularly TeeVee news. Because in the end, it's all about Step Seven. Cosmic Variance:
I met Gabby at a reception a year ago. She seemed, on our very brief acquaintance, to be a really wonderful person — energetic, smart, full of optimism about doing good things as a member of Congress. Her husband, Mark Kelly, is an astronaut. If I may step away from the ideal of journalistic objectivity for a moment, this is a stupid fucking tragedy.
Yeah, what Sean said. Unfortunately, I have spent too much of today seething with anger at the stupidity of where we have willfully gone in this country, for the sake of financial and political profit, to fully allow myself to empathize with the loved ones of those who have been killed and wounded in this morning's shooting spree. Giffords is, as of the latest reports, expected to survive, though I've heard nothing about what permanent losses of ability she may suffer. I doubt there is any basis for guessing about that yet. But at least six others are dead, including a Federal Judge and a nine-year-old girl. Four others (again, as of the most recent reports I've read) are still in critical condition, and the number wounded seems to be unsettled- the numbers I've seen range from 12 to 18.

My first facebook status this morning ended with "Thanks, Palin and Tea party: you make us proud." To which a high school classmate responded, " It is a very tragic event. Even more tragic is to blame Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. I do not believe for one second that they endorse democrats being murdered. How stupid to think so. I do not like democratic ideas but I do not want one single democrat to ever be murdered!!!!" I'm certain that very few truly want their opponents literally murdered, though metaphorically, I'm not so confident. But when your rhetoric says "Second amendment solutions" it shouldn't come as a surprise when one or more of your followers takes it literally.

And in the end, I think what infuriates me most is that I suspect I know how this will all play out. Media will attempt to be "Fair" and "Balanced," that is, Palin et al will have the opportunity to defend themselves, and play the innocent victims. Media will point out that tempers are high, as if that excuses everything. The American Public will return to their fevre dream and collective amnesia. This event, and the lessons that could be taken from it, will be forgotten. The dead and wounded, and their families, will be shuffled into the waste heap of history. What angers me is the complacency, the banality, and above all, the predictability of this.

How many remember George Tiller? How long ago was it that he was killed?

My condolences and most hopeful wishes for the friends, families and colleagues of today's victims, and to the wounded. I hope our country has enough vestige of decency to give you the support, respect, and above all, the recollection that is your due.


Dana Hunter said...

Highlighting this on ETEV tomorrow. I've read a lot today - but this is one of the best takes on the whole horrible business.

Brian Romans said...

Instead of focusing on the mental condition of the shooter, the media ought to focus on the psychology of the right. No matter what happens, they will NEVER apologize or even reflect on their rhetoric.

Keith Olbermann apologized for some of his fiery rhetoric, however tangential it was to violence, and urged right-wing commentators to do the same.

They won't. There is something about their psychology that precludes them from ever doing such a thing. It doesn't jibe with the worldview they create in which they are the victims and they are the oppressed.

It's both fascinating and terrifying.