Sorry I’ve been away — my back is not letting me sit in a chair for very long, which makes keyboarding a bit tricky. Ice packs are helping, though.
Anyway — Attaturk has a video of a man at a Senator Charles Grassley townhall meeting who is saying,
The president of the United States, that’s who you should be concerned about. Because he’s acting like a little Hitler, I’d take a gun to Washington if enough of you would go with me.
Grassley is silent. Attaturk links to similar incidents with other Republican politicians. He also documents some Republicans who not-too-implicitly encouraged constituents to use violence to enforce their political will.
Last night, Rachel Maddow showed us that extremist anti-reproductive rights groups are encouraging people to assassinate more abortion doctors.
American popular culture long has promoted an almost romantic ideal of the little guy picking up a gun and taking on some evil that is either being protected by the establishment or is the establishment itself. Think of Charles Bronson’s ” Death Wish” films, for example, or most westerns, or “Dirty Harry” and its many clones. Indeed, American gun culture has invested guns and gun ownership with powerful symbolic meaning. Add to that decades of demagoguery and manipulation of public opinon by right-wing forces that respect democracy only as long as they control it. And what you’ve got is a significant number of people who are primed to become domestic terrorists.
Grassley is silent, and I say he is silent because he is intimidated. The anger is out of his control. If he were to tell people to put their guns away and rely on the democratic process, they’d turn on him. It’s not lost on Republicans, I suspect, that when John McCain attempted to calm down his audiences during last year’s presidential campaign, the audience tuned him out. It was Sarah Palin who fed them all the red meat they wanted, so she became their champion.
At the Washington Monthly, Steve Benen asks (reasonably),
But reading over these specific lies, and thinking about them in relation to the other insane attacks we’ve seen as part of the health care reform “debate,” it occurs to me to ask right-wing opponents of reform a simple question: “Why would Dems want that?”
And by “that,” I mean any of the various nightmares that insurance companies and GOP hacks have come up with. Why would Democrats want “death panels”? Why would they support widespread “rationing”? Why would they try to force bureaucrats between patients and their doctors? What possible incentive could they have?
They’re politicians. They want to do well, but they also want to keep their jobs (i.e., win re-election). It’s in their interests to pass legislation that would benefit the country, and which voters will like. Does it make any sense to think Democrats would take this rare opportunity to approve legislation that would kill off seniors, while making things drastically worse for tens of millions of people? Why would Dems want that?
But this is a line of reasoning that was lost a long time ago. To many, liberals by definition are people with an insane plan to raise taxes for the sake of raising taxes, who encourage people to go on welfare, who get off on throwing money out the window in buckets, who burn Bibles, and of course want to take their guns away. And it’s thought liberals/Democrats want to do these things because they “believe in” doing them. One picks one’s tribe by faith, not reason.
So here we are. The politicians and pundits who feed the beast don’t control it. Or, to use another metaphor, they’ve played with fire, and now the fire is out of control. We’re going to be very, very fortunate if there aren’t more assassinations and mass shootings.