Both Sides Aren’t The Same
I’ve been thinking of a post attacking the “both sides use dangerous rhetoric” meme that the right has been pushing so hard in the past few days but Kevin Drum and David Corn beat me to it. Drum:
The big difference between right and left, as I and others have noted repeatedly, isn’t just in the amount of violent rhetoric, but its source. On the liberal side, it only occasionally comes from movement leaders. On the right, it regularly does. It comes from opinion leaders, political leaders, and media leaders, and the more heated they get, the more popular they get.
In the past 2½ years, prominent Republicans have stoked the fires of extremism. During the 2008 campaign, Palin accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists.” A dozen House Republicans have backed the birthers who claim Obama was not born in the United States. In 2008, Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Minn.), who now leads the tea party caucus in the House, called on the media to investigate “anti-American” House members. She also noted she was “very concerned that [Obama] may have anti-American views.” Have Democratic officials called for such witch hunts of political foes? Have they embraced and advanced the nutty talk that can pop up on the far left? By the way, what do you do with anti-American terrorist-pals who have conned their way into the ultimate power?
When Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Sharron Angle or Michele Bachmann says something, it is different than when a commenter on a lefty blog or a diarist on Daily Kos says it. To paraphrase Spiderman, “with power comes repsonsibility.” For politicians and media hosts that responsibility includes avoiding language that trivializes or rationalizes violence. Again, I’m not drawing a straight line from Palin or others to Loughner, but words like those cited above (and Corn has many more examples) create an atmosphere where violence is more likely.Click here for reuse options!
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