Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rhetoric and Violence

So maybe we can't draw any straight lines between the violent rhetoric coming from the far right and any particular violent act, but things like this really make me wonder.

Is there really any left equivalent of this? Sure, there were very insulting things said about Bush and Cheney, comparing them to Hitler and Mussolini (and to Dr. Strangelove and Sauron which should give us pause about how literally these comparisons were meant to be taken), but hunting licenses and targets? The Obama-Hitler comparisons (like the one illustrated above) strike me as in deadly earnest and meant to be taken quite literally. The left questioned Bush's legitimacy (as did a lot of people after the 2000 Election), but calling him an alien who should be overthrown by violence if necessary?
Right wing radio jocks call for the violent overthrow of the government routinely. Glenn Beck says the same thing ever so implicitly without ever saying so openly.
The last left wing extremist group to call for the violent overthrow of the government (and to act on it very violently) were these people, The Symbionese Liberation Army:

The SLA last dominated the headlines almost 40 years ago. The surviving members are now entering their dotage. There really hasn't been anything quite like them on the left since, not even the so-called "eco-terrorists."

The SLA got outclassed and out-slaughtered by a whole lot of people on the extreme right over the last 4 decades. We all remember Timothy McVeigh. Some of us remember the inhabitants of Elohim City and the many Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma state troopers killed by those folks in the 1980s.

In the demands for civil discourse in politics following a horrendous act of violence that may or may not be politically motivated, I'm not buying the moral equivalency between left and right arguments.


Lapinbizarre said...

In its next session, the South Carolina Legislature is expected to re-authorize the "Coon Hunting" license plate that Appalachian Trail-hiking Governor Sanford vetoed last year.

As of mid-day today we have a new governor who could be keeping us on the Jon Stewart Show for another season. She's already been rechristened "Nookie Haley".

JCF said...

I think guns are partly cultural: an In-group/Out-group thing (not unlike Country music, Hip-Hop, Gay Camp, etc).

But there's also an element in which guns, like sacraments, "Are What They Signify": not just exclusion of the Out-group, but its actual destruction (either in actuality, or at least in terms of humiliation: that gun-uncomfortable might "Die-of-Fright").

There's also the connection of guns to misogyny. Gun as Phallus: "This is my rifle, this is my gun: one's for killing, the other's for fun." (And of course, wherever misogyny, also homophobia---and vice-versa).

Like one can never be Macho Enough (the whole misogynistic, homophobic Castration Anxiety thang).

Remember just before the election of 2004, when John Kerry went goose-hunting (in swing-state Ohio no less!)? He was undoubtedly appealing to the gun-culture dog-whistle . . . but for that, he drew mocking: goose hunting. Just not macho, killing, GUN enough! [And that was BEFORE Sarah Palin raised the bar! You gotta kill something several times your own body weight now (Jared Loughner, w/ his 30-clip, check!) See also, the posters of Gabby Giffords' opponent, w/ his high-powered weaponry]

At this moment, there's a gun case full of guns 20 feet from where I sit (my dad's). Hunting rifles, and shotguns (truthfully, he also owns a couple of NON-semiautomatic pistols). These guns don't figure in a larger psychodrama, however. No one's "coming to take them away", and no one here fears there will be. They've never been taken to a rally, or even a show. They don't form the basis of politics here, or an identity. We worship only God (in TEC) not "Guns & Guts".

I'm listening to the Tuscon Memorial now. May the "E Pluribus Unum" that a young gay (Sorry Daniel) HERO spoke, replace the sound/IDOL of firearms...

JCF said...

Young gay Latino hero, Daniel Hernandez (just a corrected addendum)