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Why we need to hold the Radical Right responsible for the Arizona bloodshed

Are Tea Partiers and right-wing Republicans responsible for the horrifying violence we saw yesterday in Arizona? Of course they fucking are. And you don't have to be the sheriff of Pima County to know that.

Let's start with Sarah "Don't Retreat, Reload" Palin -- who cemented her own guilt when she pulled this down from her site before pausing to tap out a fake apology on Facebook. Now let's add Glenn Beck, Fox News, the Tea Party, and Gabrielle Giffords' Tea Party-backed opponent Jesse Kelly -- who ran campaign ads of himself holding an assault rifle and held a campaign event advertised as a "Get on target for victory" rally to "help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office" by "shoot[ing] a fully automatic m16" with the candidate." These people have blood on their hands. 

The professional Left is today in typical pro-Lefty mode: they want to equivocate by means of self-reflection. That's very noble, but also very misguided. Because today you will find no equivocation on the part of the Radical Right. Nor will you find self-reflection. What you will find is ass-covering, deflection, hypocrisy, crass political maneuvering,  the usual conspiratorial nonsense, and further demonization of the left. And we cannot let these motherfuckers get away with it -- or else this horrible carnage will cease to represent a stop-sign to the violent rhetoric of the right, and instead serve as an enjoinment for the militant crazies of America to lock and load again. 

Whether or not the alleged shooter turns out to have been a Tea Party regular or merely, as some are suggesting, a more generalized nutcase, this outcome is exactly what the Right has been hoping for -- in seeding the atmosphere with dangerous militarized rhetoric, in the hopes that some storm cloud of a troubled mind will do what the Republican party fantasizes about in private but is too cowardly to enact or openly suggest in public.

Did we expect any of them to admit responsibility, or even to pause for reflection? Has this become a moment for the Right to look within and find themselves lacking? Surprise: Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

That's right: if you listen to the conservatives today, yesterday saw a "shocking act by depraved liberals" -- by daring to suggest the obvious, that Conservative contempt of reason and dialogue in America has led, inevitably, to violence. 

Here's George Packer writing on

It would be a kind of relief if Loughner operated not out of any coherent political context but just his own fevered brain.

But even so, the tragedy wouldn't change this basic fact: for the past two years, many conservative leaders, activists, and media figures have made a habit of trying to delegitimize their political opponents. Not just arguing against their opponents, but doing everything possible to turn them into enemies of the country and cast them out beyond the pale.

Here, on the other hand, is Judson Phillips, leader of the Tea Party Nation. You may remember that just a week or so ago, Phillips released a list of America's top five Liberal "hate groups": which included the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and . . . the Department of Homeland Security? (If you think the shooter's YouTube videos sound nuts, well, they're not too much more nuts than the Tea Party.)

At a time like this, it is terrible that we do have to think about politics, but no matter what the shooter’s motivations were, the left is going to blame this on the Tea Party movement . . . While we need to take a moment to extend our sympathies to the families of those who died, we cannot allow the hard left to do what it tried to do in 1995 after the Oklahoma City bombing. Within the entire political spectrum, there are extremists, both on the left and the right. Violence of this nature should be decried by everyone and not used for political gain.

Note to the left: quit begging the Right for permission to bludgeon them with this shooting. And start fucking bludgeoning them with this shooting. It wasn't a matter of whether America's conservative traitors would provoke violence, but when and how much. Now they have exacted their pound of flesh. Now they should pay.

Keith Olbermann's "special comment" last night was a start -- but inasmuch as it began with an admission of guilt and called on both the left and right to make a pledge of anti-violent rhetoric, it did not go far enough. This part, though, we agree with: 

If Sharron Angle, who spoke of "Second Amendment solutions," does not repudiate that remark and urge her supporters to think anew of the terrible reality of what her words implied, she must be repudiated by her supporters in Nevada.

If the Tea Party leaders who took out of context a Jefferson quote about blood and tyranny and the tree of liberty do not understand - do not understand tonight, now what that really means, and these leaders do not tell their followers to abhor violence and all threat of violence, then those Tea Party leaders must be repudiated by the Republican Party.

If Glenn Beck, who obsesses nearly as strangely as Mr. Loughner did about gold and debt and who wistfully joked about killing Michael Moore, and Bill O'Reilly, who blithely repeated "Tiller the Killer" until the phrase was burned into the minds of his viewers, do not begin their next broadcasts with solemn apologies for ever turning to the death-fantasies and the dreams of bloodlust, for ever having provided just the oxygen to those deep in madness to whom violence is an acceptable solution, then those commentators and the others must be repudiated by their viewers, and by all politicians, and by sponsors, and by the networks that employ them.

This was an act of terrorism -- and so were the many rhetorical and performative acts that led up to it. This shooting, directly or indirectly, was brought on by the coordinated, reckless insinuations of a sick, depraved, and willfully violent insurgency. And now it's time to hold them accountable for the consequences. 

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  • Ken Shane said:

    No, I think we should continue wringing our hands and cowering in fear of the big bad right wing nut jobs. Seriously, thanks for finally saying what need to be said. My fear is that it will fall on deaf ears as we all join hands and sing Kumbaya. Fear not though, the new era of good feelings and reflection will end in a few days and they killers will be right back at it. At least the Tea Party asshole isn't pretending that he's going to back off.

    January 9, 2011 4:33 PM
  • sigh said:

    capriciously pinning a massacre carried out by a lone gunman on an entire political movement is as terrifying as any tea partier i've ever seen or heard. remember the whole rally to restore sanity idea? yeah, that swings both ways. tone this shit down. call for a change in the discourse, sure. god knows i agree with you. what doesn't help anyone is, say, equating the removal of a graphic from sarah palin's web page with admitting guilt for causing a bullet to enter a congresswoman's brain. fucking hell...

    January 10, 2011 2:06 PM

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