25 March 2010

Hate and American politics

On his prompting, Mason and I were wandering the internet looking for examples of radical liberal violence that match the recent radical conservative violence. Working from those vague definitions, I found an unintentionally hilarious LEO (law enforcement officials, I learned) thread from a year ago and posted it for discussion on Reddit. The sheer WTF of some of the comments make it the must-read thread of the week. To wit: In any internet discussion in which I have participated, the people that threaten and bully other posters are always liberal. Seems they forget that it's the conservatives that are armed. And: I think they are more fueled by self hate. Since they are "obviously" superior to everyone else, and since they hate themselves, then they have to hate everyone else too. It was a circle-jerk of less-than-intelligent posters, but this is the internet and that stuff's cheap and plentiful. Entertaining, yet irrelevant to our search!

Randomly and coincidentally, public radio had two stories today covering that very subject. First up, Are Smashed Windows Signs Of Cultural Divide? from Talk of the Nation. A well-balanced panel of presidential historian Robert Dallek, Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald, and Tufts University prof. Peniel Joseph. Worth it for the range of ideas tossed about in the discussion.

Later, When Right-Wing Extremism Moves Mainstream from Fresh Air interviews Mark Potok, who did a study called Rage and the Right, comparing recent activist groups today to previous eras. Overall a good interview (Potok points out, notably, that groups like the tea party movement are not homogeneous). In the study, he found an increase in anti-immigrant groups. Terry Gross outlined the recent incidences:

  • Death threats against congressmen
  • Spitting on congressmen and throwing around "faggot" and "nigger"
  • Faxing images of a noose to a black congressman
  • Posting the (wrong) address of a congressman, resulting in his brother's gas line being cut
  • Throwing rocks through windows and threatening that "snipers" are following

Are these events out of the ordinary (or even that violent)? And are they matched by acts from the radical left? No high-profile liberal outlets match the conservative ones (think Glenn and Rush) in calling for violent uprising, thus legitimizing what would otherwise be only fringe violence. Notable American terrorists of our generation are generally right-leaning. You have to go back to the 60s and 70s to find the violent leftist groups (SDS and Black Panthers), but even then they're matched with violent anti-segragationists (KKK and John Birch). In fact, going back to Bush II's presidency, liberals who spoke even rationally against the president or the war were subjected to threats of violence (think Dixie Chicks and Bill Maher). I came to this subject looking for balancing examples, but they're hard to find.

This is a difficult metric.

[ posted by sstrader on 25 March 2010 at 6:18:34 PM in Politics ]