Fox News and the Destruction of American Political Discourse

Sep 30 2009 Published by under Featured News

Much of the American public has been turned off of political discourse. Certainly a great deal of it is simply because in our daily lives, we don’t have time to delve deeply into the issues at hand, but as the 2008 election showed beyond any doubt, they are also ‘tuning out’ because the discussion has become so strident, so insulting, ugly and vulgar, that the average person simply has no interest in becoming embroiled in such ugliness. They have, probably rightly, determined that both parties are acting in their craven self-interest, and the truth is of little or no concern.

I would say that personal experience suggests to me that the Democrats are more willing to be self-critical than Republicans, but that’s faint praise. Witness the Democratic uprising over Healthcare and the prosecution of those who tortured, Democrats are better known for being interested policy than simply toeing a company line, yet, they have aggrandized issues unnecessarily – such as the meaningless fight to expose George Bush’s flight status during the Vietnam War. While perhaps it was ‘of interest’ as a point of Bush’s lack of honesty, much/most of the public simply didn’t care enough to make an issue of it.

Now, however, a new and uglier side is emerging – or maybe the right word is re-emerging. As Patrick Kennedy noted last weekend, this speech is turning increasingly toward suggesting or even openly advocating for violence against those with whom the right-wing doesn’t agree.

Conspiracy theorists who think Obama is going to take away their guns, going to enact communism, isn’t lawfully President, wants to enact panels to kill people, are not only voicing their displeasure, but worse, they are openly advocating for drowning out any disagreement with ugly and abusive conduct which is wholly un-American and moreover, in some cases, threatening real violence. At a recent public forum in Virginia for a Republican Representative, a female commenter said that they (her political view/party), “either had to win at the ballot box, or they would start reaching for the bullet box.” I personally have been told that a commenter would prefer to stop mincing words with me and let the shooting start.

While nothing stops this quite so well as shedding the light of day on the ugly attitudes of such people, it seems increasingly that outlets like Fox News would prefer to sugar-coat this conduct (including ignoring the conduct of head cheerleader Glenn Beck) – and instead refer to this as simply ‘angry citizens’ protesting the President’s plans. Others claim these are simply a radical few.

I challenge both – protest is fine – protest is fair, but (as Kennedy points out) advocating the assassination of the President (as Limbaugh AND Beck have alluded to), advocating ‘Burying Obamacare with Kennedy” is something which can easily be misconstrued by those who, say, might shoot Family Planning Doctors, to instead seek to shoot politicians (like Obama).

It’s not protest at that point, it’s the same sort of ‘call to arms because we lost the argument’ that lead to the Civil War. As well, it’s hardly a tiny minority – 52% of Republicans are unsure or convinced that the President isn’t lawfully the President.

The echo-chamber of right wing politics is so insular that MANY legitimately believe we “others” (i.e. not ultra-conservatives) would truly abide killing our grandparents simply because it was economical – and they are ready to start killing people to prove they are right and serious.

We saw such cavalier attitudes about the treatment of people in Iraq, and we are now beginning to see the same here at home. I don’t think it’s a mistake, I think the extremists feel safe to come out of the closet, and the question is not only why, but what can be done to finally cause organizations like Fox News to finally expose these people as both ignorant, and dangerous?

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