You don’t have to be Yoda to understand that fear leads to hate and ultimately to violence. This post by Amanda Marcotte over at Pandagon is worth reading in its entirety:
I do think there’s value in talking about the use of inciting language, like Sarah Palin is fond of doing, but I have to say that is probably less of a problem than paranoia. The violent rhetoric encourages people to see violence as a solution, but it’s the paranoia that gives them cause to get that wound up, or in the likely case of Loughner, to latch onto right wing paranoia as a delusion.
It isn’t the violent rhetoric, its the eliminationist rhetoric that is the main language side of the problem. When the right talks about the left as traitors, scum, or in any way attacks their humanity – they are lowering the intrinsic ethical barriers to entry for violent actions against the left. That is a huge part of the problem.
That said, Amanda (and Jon Stewart) are right on when they not the large place fear has in stimulating political violence. Let’s get inside the head of a potential right wing terrorist:
You believe the President is a foreign national from Kenya bent on becoming America’s next hitler. You think liberals are working to help him destroy the economy, establish death panels and concentration camps, and morally corrupt the nation by attacking Christianity and Christian laws. You think liberals murder babies and have wet dreams about bringing stalin-style communism to the US.
How could those beliefs not lead to violence?
I think that is the interesting question out of all of this.