Let's put blame where it belongs: right-wing extremism


In the wake of the senseless shooting in Tucson, Ariz., people and politicians of various political inclinations have appealed for goodwill, civil discourse and national unity.

It is said, we have to turn down the rhetorical temperature. I support these sentiments, as do most Americans. Who wouldn't in the wake of the blood spilled and lives lost so tragically this past weekend?

But matters can't be left here. Some others things must be said, and if it ruffles civil discourse, so be it.

Not everyone is equally to blame for ratcheting up of hate speech, racist, anti-immigrant, anti-government rhetoric, and homophobia.

Not everyone urged citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights to settle differences.

Not everyone joined in the relentless attack - now two years old - against the first African American president in our nation's history; an attack that is racist in its content and unprecedented in its intensity.

Not everyone uses, to borrow from New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, "eliminationist rhetoric."

Not every congressperson tells their constituents to be "armed and dangerous," as Republican and tea party leader Rep. Michelle Bachman did.

Not everyone placed Rep. Giffords' district in the crosshairs on their website's election map as Sarah Palin did. (She hurriedly removed the image the day of the shooting.)

And, not every American had a hand in creating the atmosphere of intolerance and vitriol that currently exists, and resulted in the attempted political assassination of the congresswoman and the senseless deaths of six innocent people, including one young child.

Most Americans of various political persuasions believe in, and live out a moral code of tolerance and decency. They don't harbor hatred, nor do they incite others to hate. They never advocate vigilante politics or settling differences with a smoking gun.

This contrasts with the modern-day fire eaters on right-wing talk radio and television shows - not to mention their counterparts in elective office - who trade on and get rich from volumes of hateful, divisive and abusive rhetoric. (Fire eaters were the group of extremist pro-slavery politicians from the South who urged the separation of southern states by any means necessary)

Civil discourse is a dirty word to them. Hate is what makes them tick. It is what turns them on. It is their fix and they shoot it up and out daily and hourly. Propagandizing hate is what pays them big salaries, and inflates their egos. It gives them a sense of power over other people. And it incites people - sane and deranged - to do harmful things, including political assassinations.

Rush Limbaugh and the like aren't talk show hosts; they're conveyers of everything that is bad in our culture. Their redeeming characteristics are zero, zilch. They have none!

If I were asked to paint a portrait of a purveyor of hate it would be Limbaugh's face and his gang of like-minded talk show hosts on radio and Fox News in the near background.

Take the hate and lies out of their talk and they have nothing to say.

But some will assert, "Wait a minute. They didn't pull the trigger, nor are they responsible for a young man who is obviously deranged."

No quarrel here, but that isn't the issue. The issue is who created the climate of hate and venom? Not the American left, not Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow, not progressive Democrats! Can you imagine Congressman John Lewis suggesting to his constituents that they "arm themselves?" It would never happen! Never!

The trail of evidence leads in one direction and to only one source: right-wing extremism.

And people should not be shy in saying this. We should pin the "tale" on the real donkey! We should name names. Nothing is to be gained by evenhandedness. In fact, in obscuring the truth, it is a disservice to the American people.

Truth is: it is misguided when someone on the progressive side does this, for it clarifies nothing in the minds of millions, who are looking for an explanation for this dastardly act.

In this instance, and in every instance where people are feeling pain, insecurity and uncertainty about which way to turn, the ideological stock and trade of right wing extremism (the water boy of the most reactionary sections of the ruling class and transnational capital) is to mislead, to confuse, to mystify and to bamboozle the American people.

In the wake of this horrible episode of Arizona violence, we can expect more of the same, but democratic-minded people should roll back the fog, attach blame to those who are responsible for the politics of hate and lies, and name names.

Photo: Tea party rally sign threatening a Browning gun solution. (JoelnSouthernCA/CC)


Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.


  • Stare long and hard into the mirror of life. You might see through the cracks.

    Posted by Truth, 01/16/2011 8:09pm (5 years ago)

  • Once again, on target. I'm going to use most of this article in an article I'm writing for local papers. If its printed I'll send you a copy.

    Posted by Carole Marks, 01/12/2011 5:25pm (5 years ago)

  • Great article Sam! It was an article filled with emotion as well as facts. I'm all for naming names and expressing our opinions of "the politics of hate and lies" to our friends and allies In the Labor Movement as well as the community.

    Posted by Lance Cohn, 01/12/2011 1:33pm (5 years ago)

  • I agree completely with this article, although I question the phrasing of "We should name names" given historical connotations.

    Posted by Brad, 01/12/2011 1:18pm (5 years ago)

  • Rightwing incitement to assassination...

    Posted by charles, 01/12/2011 8:33am (5 years ago)

  • Right on the money. While all the pundits are busy creating excuses for the alleged mentally "unstable" young man they conveniently ignore the fact that he left behind a damning note professing neo conservative ideas such as the Gold currency, now, who are the radio and Foxnews personalities advertising gold day in and day out?

    Posted by Mike, 01/11/2011 9:20pm (5 years ago)

  • I don't disagree in the least that the hateful political rhetoric has to go. However, we cannot attribute causality in this shooting to hateful rhetoric, guns or sunspots: we look for rationality in Schizophrenics and their behaviors where there is none.

    Posted by Jim Williams, 01/11/2011 6:23pm (5 years ago)

  • Great article, to which I would add two things:

    1. Let's not forget that the issue of immigration and attacks on Latino people have played a major part in the development of the right's ideological strategy. We have been subjected to several years of lies and slander about "dirty Mexicans" invading our country, causing an (imaginary) crime wave, sickening us by causing salmonella outbreaks and much more besides. People like Governor Brewer have contributed to this mightily, by their lies about decapitated bodies in Arizona's desert, "anchor babies" and the rest of it. The Latino immigrants have been the collective guinea pig on which these tactics have been tried and, to a certain extent, found successful.

    2. It may well be that the young man who shot 20 people in Arizona is severely mentally disturbed. This should not get us off message in our effort to warn about the dangers of increasingly fascistic campaigns of verbal vitriol against the left and center. The ultra-right may be onto something here, namely that they are able to create terror without building an organization vulnerable to any crackdown, because they work by setting up psychologically susceptible people to carry out terroristic acts, rather than organizing their own terrorist hit squads. In our country, where alienation and ideological confusion abound, where services to help the mentally ill have been cut to the bone, and where somebody like this young man can easily get hold of a semi-automatic pistol in a perfectly legal transacion, this may be a new breakthrough in ways to create mayhem and evading the responsibility for doing so.

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 01/11/2011 4:11pm (5 years ago)

  • Powerful! And no holds bard..... It's racism--the under belly of much of the hate talk and the role of the talking heads is to promote racism. All well paid by their corporate bosses.
    We can't leave out the violence the U.S. military and the corporations perpetrate on the peoples of the world. "the chickens have come home to roost" Again!
    Enough said.

    Posted by Gabriel Falsetta, 01/11/2011 12:50pm (5 years ago)

  • This is a good article,and let's go deeper.
    John Lewis,civil rights revolutionary hero,Sam is correct,would never suggest his constiuents"arm themselves" in a sense any close to what the fascist minded and behaved,mad monsters would.
    Congressman Lewis would,however,emphatically urge his constituents to "arm themselves"with the full armor of war for peace and revolution.
    The young revolutionary president(of SNCC) Lewis, stated in his very controversial speech,at the 1963 March of Washington,criticizing president Kennedy:
    "The revolution is a serious one. Mr. Kennedy is trying to take the revolution out of the streets and put it into the courts. Listen,Mr. Kennedy. Listen,Mr. Congressman. Listen,fellow citizens. The black masses are on the march for jobs and freedom,and we must say to the politicians that there won't be any "cooling off period"...We will march through the South,through the heart of Dixie,the way Sherman(EEWC-Civil War General Sherman)did. We shall pursue our own scorched earth policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground-nonviolently..."
    The remedy,the solution,to the fascistic murders of Arizona,is indeed putting the blame on the most reactionary sections of the ruling class and multi-national and transnational finance capital,but it is also,more importantly,the organization of the millions and millions,for direct action for jobs,freedom and justice for themselves and ourselves,scorching the earth against war,the way our young president Lewis urged in 1963,while the whole 1963 march for jobs and freedom assembly honored our grandfather,Communist,W.E.B. Du Bois.
    This armament,John Lewis would zealously acclaim.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 01/11/2011 10:21am (5 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments