Monday, January 10, 2011

Ready, Aim, Fire

Paul Krugman ("Climate of Hate") today poses a question that Ross Douthat ("United in Horror") answers. Mr. Krugman asks whether the Arizona massacre will make our discourse less toxic or if those on the right, like Glenn Beck, will merely dismiss it as the act of a deranged individual and "go on as before".

Mr. Douthat, while recoiling at the actions of Mr. Loughner in Arizona states that "violence in American politics tend to bubble up from a world that's far stranger than any Glenn Beck monologue" and that mental illness, not overheated rhetoric, pulled the trigger that took down Ms. Giffords and those around her.

Mr. Krugman, if you are looking for " a turning point" and some "real soul searching", you will be sorely disappointed. For, as Mr. Douthat's words would suggest, those on the right believe there is a major disconnect between words and deeds. For them, sticks and stones may break bones, but words (well you know the rest). It is as if the anger they stir up lives in a vacuum. Sure, they say things that may on the surface seem vile and a call to destroy those who the right contend would destroy them and their values. But these are only metaphorical comments intended to stir political thoughts and passions not literal thoughts of murder.

Mr. Douthat, try telling someone in Mr. Loughner's mental condition to interpret the words of Mr. Beck and those like him with care. Tell him, and others like him that this is all just politics and nothing more. Tell Mr. Loughner and others like him, who live on the edge of the precipice, that it is not Gabrielle Giffords and others like her, who are trying to push him over the edge of that precipice. Mr. Douthat, the reality is that the words used by Mr. Beck and others like him helped put the images of death in the mind of Mr. Loughner. There is no great disconnect, Mr. Douthat, and until those on the right stop suggesting that words don't have consequences, acts like those of Mr. Loughner will continue to be more likely to occur.

So, in response to your question Mr. Krugman, I fear that while the horrific events over the weekend will serve to quiet everything down for a short while, in the months to come, we will once more be subject to a continuation of the type of "violent" discourse that we, as a nation, have sadly been subjected to with ever increasing regularity.

1 comment:

Bruce Egert said...

Anyone who would seek to earn political capital on this tragedy should be condemned in no uncertain terms. Now is the time to reassert ourselves as Americans who resolve to settle disputes at the ballot boxes, the courtrooms and the legislative hearing tables. Our 1776 revolution ended so that we could have a peace loving democracy, not to continue a cycle of violence, suspicion and mistrust of the stranger.