After getting some concerns off my rest re: the shooting in Tucson, I’ve been reading what everyone else is saying, and I’m kind of amazed at the conservatives attempt at the “Both sides do it,” argument. To be sure, people on both sides do go to extremes, but beyond that it’s a false equivalency. Of course, I’m not the first to point this out.
The point is that there’s room in a democracy for people who ridicule and denounce those who disagree with them; there isn’t any place for eliminationist rhetoric, for suggestions that those on the other side of a debate must be removed from that debate by whatever means necessary.
And it’s the saturation of our political discourse – and especially our airwaves – with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence.
Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be “armed and dangerous” without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.
And there’s a huge contrast in the media. Listen to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann, and you’ll hear a lot of caustic remarks and mockery aimed at Republicans. But you won’t hear jokes about shooting government officials or beheading a journalist at The Washington Post. Listen to Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, and you will.
So, rather than repeat what everyone else has said, I thought I’d do a video timeline.
Have I done this before? Probably. I don’t remember. But here’s what I got.
Why a timeline? I’ve seen bulleted lists, but to me a timeline illustrates things in a way mere words can’t. I realized that when I was nearly finished with this one. I was amazed at the number and frequency of the incidents.
Besides, even though I only started this a week ago, I had trouble keeping up. I as was adding past events, and I had to turn around and add things that were happening at the moment. The death threats against a Palin critic and Glenn Beck’s favorite target — Frances Piven — were hastily added before publishing this post.
It’s not that violence doesn’t happen on both sides. In the course of our history, of course it has. It’s not that there haven’t been extremes on both sides. But let’s be real. The Weather Underground went out of business a long time ago, and its remaining members are drawing retirement, along with the rest.
However, I challenge anyone to find the equivalent of the above on the left over the last couple of year. I challenge anyone to find it with the same frequency and intensity on the left. I challenge anyone to find the same thing coming from media figures, elected officials, and candidates for office on the left.
It just isn’t there. It isn’t happening with the same frequency, intensity, or with the open endorsement or tacit approval of elected officials and leadership.
If nothing else, it’s a record of sorts. And yes, now that I’ve made a decent start on this project, I’ll keep it up. I may even post updates as events warrant. I’m sure there are events I forgot or never knew about in the first place. Drop me a comment or email, and I’ll include them.