For years now the Right has been fighting reality with such esteemed help that they managed to get the Bush administration’s Department of Homeland Security report warning of the increasing threat from Right Wing domestic terrorism withdrawn soon after Obama took office. The DHS’s warning was specifically about the imminent danger of Right Wing domestic terrorism being on the rise in the United States, but in the face of Right Wing outrage, it was withdrawn. No facts had changed, but it was withdrawn. The report was drawn up by a conservative Republican.
Every time a “crazy” person kills people, the Right hyperventilates trying to show that they aren’t responsible for the violence. It doesn’t matter to them if the shooter listened to their hate speech or claimed to be inspired by it or had simply absorbed it as a part of our culture. The only thing the Right appears to care about is seeing to it that they are not blamed, and if they are blamed, they’re going to make sure they take everyone else down with them, regardless of their actual participation and/or guilt. This often involves trying to paint the shooter as a Leftie, in spite of the evidence to the contrary.
As it became apparent over the weekend that the alleged Oslo shooter was heavily influenced by Right-Wing, anti-Islamic American bloggers and writers, the Right drew its “best defense is a good offense” drawbridge again. They’ve taken their knee-jerk defense so far as to suggest that the shooter was a Leftist liberal and the children’s camp a “Hitler youth camp”. Eighteen percent of Americans believe President Obama is a Muslim. The same people think he is a “Marxist Socialist”. Just who gave them that idea and where did we see signs proclaiming he was the “enemy”? The Oslo suspect was on a jihad against Marxist Muslims. When you see hyper defensiveness being engaged in, there’s often guilt in play, though that guilt can be either real or imagined.
As I’ve pointed out previously, being responsible for something and examining your potential part in it are two different things, and it is the latter for which I hold the far Right accountable. Normal human beings understand this distinction, and it’s regrettable that we have to repeatedly foray into what constitutes a national conscience, while in the process fighting off ironic and transparent accusations of political bias.
It is human to examine one’s behavior and reflect upon whether or not you need to moderate your opinion or qualify it in the aftermath of tragedy. This kind of humanity expresses itself in self-examination and personal responsibility, and it’s one of the reasons the country begged the far Right to tone down their rhetoric after the Arizona massacre.
But the far Right refused to do that, and instead dipped their teabags in their rancid self-pity until it was somehow the media’s fault for daring to suggest that putting crosshairs over political opponents might not be such a great idea. The Right showed absolutely no remorse over their even unwitting participation in inciting anger and hatred, but instead spent their time on the air drawing false equivalencies between the Left and Right. The American media was complicit again in bowing down to the far Right’s persecution complex.
We have numerous killers citing some of those same sources, recently with McVay saying he hatched his plan to assassinate our President in jail, while listening to Right Wing pundits discuss the debt ceiling. What kind of political Party fails to condemn this incendiary rhetoric coming from high-profile personalities and political leaders? They’re demonizing the President to such an extent that a killer listening to their pundits got the idea that his “mission” to assassinate the President would be a favor to American citizens. While he might be “crazy”, how does that excuse the rhetoric?
We have free speech, but we are also accountable for our use of it. Free speech is not a get out of jail free card. We don’t get to say anything we want and exempt ourselves from all ramifications simply because we’re an American citizen who happens to be a political leader or a TV host. Free speech is supposed to work like free markets (ironies abound) in that it will be regulated by the public’s response to it.
However, armies of telegenic sycophants gather on the airwaves to regurgitate Karl Rove’s “Both sides do it” mantra and Americans remain shamed into silence and complicity in spite of the fact that there is no Left Wing modern equivalent, neither in the media nor in action. If you’re asking yourself just who is echoing the Murdoch led lies emanating most disgracefully from Fox News, look around at the mainstream media.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that Right Wing pundits and political leaders should be blamed for the killings, but rather that they should demonstrate some form of morality (indeed, humanity) that would allow them to regulate themselves, even if Rupert and the market of public opinion can’t or won’t. This is usually referred to as a conscience. In the face of an obvious lack of such an internal mechanism as displayed by the aforementioned actors, it falls to us, the public, to call for them to be moderated.
In truth, there are lone crazies who kill people and there are folks like the alleged Oslo killer who are ostensibly not crazy and apparently part of a network of people who share his fears about an alleged Muslim takeover. Anders Behring Breivik, the alleged Oslo shooter, quoted numerous Right wing sites, some of which are tied to far right Dominionist Christians, the Tea Party and followers of leaders like Sarah Palin. The New York Times quoted Marc Sageman, a former CIA officer and terrorism consultant who is also a forensic psychiatrist, as pointing out that the rhetoric Breivik followed is equivalent to the rhetoric Al Qaeda follows. He also suggested that Breivik is not “crazy”. Dr. Sageman “said he saw no overt signs of mental illness in Mr. Breivik’s writings.” In speaking about the anti-Islamic rhetoric Breivik followed, he added, “This rhetoric is not cost-free.”
We have a disturbing problem in our cultural refusal to deal with the facts at hand lest it hurt the feelings of the “Tea Party Christians” of the far Right. The media and government both have been complicit in this dangerously offensive tour, bowing down to preemptive criticisms of “liberal media” to such an obsequious extent that the DHS withdrew a report on Right Wing domestic violence being on the rise in America. Instead, they chose to focus on Islamic terrorism (the “enemy”); apparently, this made some people more comfortable and we are all about the comfort of some people — facts be damned.
It’s shocking that our government is controlled to this extent by Right Wing memes, to the detriment and danger of other American citizens who deserve to have their liberty and freedom protected no matter whose feelings it hurts. Must we continue to behave as a puerile nation, unable and unwilling to admit that while we have freedom of speech, we also have the responsibility to our fellow citizens to listen to them, to allow them the same freedoms without fear of violent retribution? Other nations, older nations, who have seen first hand the consequences of unmitigated hate speech handle the issue of volatile free speech with delicate nuance meant to protect all citizens, not just the hateful, the angry and the most vocal.
We have no democracy without a free press, and if our press were truly free, I suspect that not only would we have the DHS report in effect, but it would have been distributed to law enforcement and the necessary training would have been implemented. As it is, we are years behind and law enforcement are often unaware of the “tells” that they are potentially dealing with dangerous people.
If the facts suggest that Right Wing domestic terrorism is on the rise, then why aren’t we dealing with those facts? Sweeping unpleasant facts under the rug has rarely been qualified as an effective coping mechanism. And while I’m not suggesting that we use those facts to silence free speech or even paint an entire movement with their stain, I am suggesting that we proceed with an allegiance to the facts, above all else — feelings be damned.
A majority of Christians do not share the far Right’s Dominionist hatred for the “other”, nor do they share the apparent bloodlust and violence we see from the far Right “Christians”, because Christ taught his followers to turn the other cheek, not to murder innocents in his name. These real Christians must vocally condemn the beliefs and infrastructure behind the Oslo shooter’s motives, and we must all demand that as a nation, we not allow our values of freedom of and from religion be sacrificed at the altar of fear.
This week, parents in Oslo are preparing for the burial of their child. Little Christina Taylor is already buried, but not forgotten. When will the death toll of innocent lives finally cause a crisis of conscience for us all? We can’t wait for the media to finally tell us it’s OK for us to name this problem what it is, to hold people accountable; because as we know, the media’s allegiance is too often to corporate memes and thus, due to the unholy alliance between corporations’ greed and the far right Birchian “Christian Tea Party Patriots”, the far right’s persecution complex.
If experts agree that Anders Behring Breivik isn’t crazy, and the lone crazy wolf excuse is not available, what then? When we concede that Breivik’s rhetoric mirrors the far Right “Christian” nationalism in evidence here, along with Jesus “warriors” brought up to kill for their savior, will we finally admit that we have a problem in this country?
We need to reinstate and update the Department of Homeland Security’s warning regarding the threat of Right Wing domestic terrorism. We need to stop bowing down to the persecution complex of the far Right and allowing the media to force us into silence simply because they have chosen to serve their masters.
We can be better than this. We have to be.