O’Reilly’s Internet Cop Wants to Kill Liberals

Bill O’Reilly’s “Internet Cop” has posted death threats against liberals.

Sara at Orcinus has more:

The really funny part of this is that his “cop” is Amanda Carpenter of Townhall.com, a site that recently called Michelle Obama a “race pimp” and said that congressmen who “damage the morale and undermine the military” should be executed as saboteurs. And no, those weren’t comments — those calls came on the front page. You’d think that would pretty much disqualify her as the Amy Vanderbilt in charge of enforcing good manners on blogs — but, y’no, it’s Fox, and reality is what they say it is.

BIll O’Reilly is missing the point:

BOR is, as usual, missing the big story here. It’s no secret anywhere anymore: every national law enforcement and intelligence agency we’ve talked to is bracing for an onslaught of right-wing violence in the months ahead, which will intensify with an Obama win. (We may look back in a few years and realize Knoxville was the opening shot of a much larger wave of domestic terrorism.) The language and logic of that uprising are being worked out in the pages of Amanda Carpenter’s own blog — and yet he’s got her on his show, explaining to America why liberals will be the ones to blame when the shooting starts.

The problem is that where conservatives point to unhinged commenters on liberal sites (even a blog as small as mine gets its far share of violent oddballs), at the very same time mainstream conservative bloggers and news icons are making the sincere argument that liberals ought to be killed.

Now that liberals are being killed by violent conservatives, what do we do?

Making Killing Liberals Normal

Hate of liberals has been festering throughout the Bush years.  You’d think two terms of conservative rule would calm and reassure wingnuts, but the crazy contigent of the radical Republican army has been working on its foaming skills assiduously.

My “most active” posts are about a Obama: The White Supremacist Backlash, and on Eliminationism: Kill All Liberals.  I regularly see search terms like “white supremacist obama”, “fuck obama muslim nigger”, and “kill all liberals” rise to the top (also encouragingly “progress hope obama”).

While we wonder if the recent murder of the Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman was politically motivated, we do know the Church killings were (David Niewert at FireDogLake):

An update on the Knoxville shooting rampage, from the Knoxville News:

Police found right-wing political books, brass knuckles, empty shotgun shell boxes and a handgun in the Powell home of a man who said he attacked a church in order to kill liberals “who are ruining the country,” court records show.

Knoxville police Sunday evening searched the Levy Drive home of Jim David Adkisson after he allegedly entered the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and killed two people and wounded six others during the presentation of a children’s musical.

Knoxville Police Department Officer Steve Still requested the search warrant after interviewing Adkisson. who was subdued by several church members after firing three rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun into the congregation.

Adkisson targeted the church, Still wrote in the document obtained by WBIR-TV, Channel 10, “because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country’s hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of media outlets.”

Adkisson told Still that “he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement that he would then target those that had voted them in to office.”

Meanwhile the presence of a possible terrorist in Denver has excited the right wing blogosphere to the point that they overlooked the probability that the terrorist was one of their own rather than the “Muslim Terrorist” they rushed to brand him as.

The ugly side of repeatedly insisting it would be acceptable, desirable, or even honorable to kill liberals is that some people are easily convinced.  That they believe the radio hosts and right wing shock jocks of news are rooting for them when they take a gun and aim it at a human being whose politics they don’t like.  Sad, sick people.

We ought to be more aggressive in pushing back against eliminationist speech.

The question is how?

The Sally Kern Video

She’s saying what other Republicans are thinking.

My friend Kelly emailed this to me.  Then I saw it pop up and up on Pandagon, and on C&L.  And of course its accompanied by commentary like “is this person bat-shit crazy, or is this nutjob bat-shit crazy?”.  That this is somehow outrageous.  It isn’t.  Let’s look at her statements piece by piece.  As written down by Pam:

Studies show, no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted for more than, you know, a few decades. . .

This is a familiar line.  I’ve forgotten exactly which Republican candidate echoed it (bonus points if anyone can point out who).  But it feeds into a standard, paranoid extremist narrative.  The same one that surfaces when some creepy ass to the right of George Bush starts using words and phrases like “birth-rate”, “europeans” and “white pride” together.  This idea that civilization is somehow doomed because two people of the same sex are in love is directly tied to stock racist fodder like the decline of the white Christian european race.

…They are going after our young children, as young as two years of age, to try to teach them that the homosexual lifestyle is an acceptable lifestyle.

Democrats and liberals criticize the education system because they want to fix it.  Republicans and conservatives do so to prevent, literally, progress.  They want to keep people stupid and bigoted, and this ties neatly into that seething fear.  Children’s books, k-12 curriculums, anything that teaches equality and understanding is an old and practiced target for the right.

One of my colleagues said We don’t have a gay problem in our community…well you know what, that is so dumb. If you have cancer in your little toe, do you just say that I’m going to forget about it since the rest of you is fine? It spreads! This stuff is deadly and it is spreading. It will destroy our young people and it will destroy this nation.

And top it all off with some eliminationism.

Folks, none of this is new, none of this extraordinary.  It is merely an extension of a single line of reasoning into our mainstream discourse. Expect the media to cover this video, as it is quite the fascinating little instigator.  But don’t expect any of them to link this to the rising tide of extremist discourse, or to explore the significance of combining anti-gay fear and the politics of race, supremacy, and hate.  Above all, don’t expect an intrepid paper reporter or news anchor to state the unspeakable discourse: That for every Sally Kern who says this stuff out loud, there are a hundred Delays, Bushes, Hasterts, McCains, and Huckabees who are thinking it, and basing the platforms and their policies on it.

O’Reilly: Context is Everything

That’s Bill O’Reilly’s late apology for his lynching remarks:

O’Reilly’s exact words:

“While talking to a radio caller, I said there should be no lynching in the case, that comment off Clarence Thomas saying he was the victim of a high tech lynching (he said that on 60 Minutes, you may remember). I’m sorry if my statement offended anybody. That, of course, was not the intention. Context is everything.”

What context could possibly make this look good?

finally, the apology: on his show last night, Bill O’Reilly apologized for saying, “I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence.”

Let’s use the magic of blogging technology to find out! First, the full quote:

“I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that’s how she really feels — that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever — then that’s legit. We’ll track it down.”

(note: context is utterly made up from this point onwards)

Hmmm. That still seems kinda racist Billo. Let’s try again:

Billo: Lynching was great for our system of Justice, only problem was a lack of evidence. You see, we needed a trial first, then the lynching. The dixie’s just got the order out of whack, that’s all. I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. So we have a trial for “unpatriotic speech”, and then an execution if she is found guilty.

Guest: By a jury of her peers?

Billo: Hell no. A jury of white Christian male media pundits.

Ok ok. How about:

Billo: Lynching is a metaphor, see, for killing a person’s respectability, their reputation. Dig? It’s all about perception man. I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. Then see, why should we like, listen to her?

Guest: Could that tact possibly backfire on you Bill?

Billo: Cut his mike!

There’s just gotta be some context that clears Bill O’Reilly’s good name. Golly gee wilikers, I’ve got it!

Billo: Given the disturbing amount of white supremacist activity aimed at Obama’s run for office, using language that applies that bigotry and hatred to the candidate is unforgivable. The media ought to be on the lookout for such perversions and “mistakes” made by high profile pundits, who are actually fueling the fire of extremists so afraid of Democracy they’d happily resort to the language and actions of fascism. How would your recognize this kind of attack? It could, for example, be couched as a defense of the intended victim, as follows: I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. See? See how that seems like I’m defending Mrs. Obama, when I’m actually engaging in wink-nod racism and eliminationism?

Guest: Shit, that’s clever!

Billo: Exactly. Oh God…. What if the liberal media take my media criticism of racist rhetoric out of context? My hard won reputation as a serious critic and unbiased, hard nosed opinion maker would be ruined!

And that must be what happened.

Why They Call it Homo Phobia

There are a number of issues that arise around the notion of sexuality and gender that, honestly, could use a healthy debate. Issues like should a Church be allowed to practice discrimination? (4Simpsons):

4. Apparently churches shouldn’t be able to discipline according to the Bible

A gay Christian who won a claim against the Church of England has been awarded more than £47,000 in compensation. John Reaney took the Hereford diocesan board of finance to an employment tribunal after his appointment as a youth worker was blocked.

Or the possibly competing comfort levels of trans-gendered folks and women:

3. You’re transphobic if you oppose letting people go in the bathroom of their choosing. If your young daughter wonders why the bearded guy in the dress is in the women’s room, accuse her of hate speech.

But that really isn’t possible for some folks, and Neil disappoints by joining their ranks. His positions and conclusions reek of hysteria:

Political perspective: These folks have successfully infiltrated churches, the education establishment and government. It is only going to get worse if “civil unions” are approved more broadly, because they establish a precedent for sexual preferences being civil rights.

This is the old “the world is going to end if we recognize the equality of gay people” argument. And hey folks, its true, just look at the smoking hole in the ground where Massachusetts used to be. God totally zapped that heathen state. (Emphasis mine):

2. Judges: ‘Gay’ exposure OK for kindergarteners

As WND reported in 2006, U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf dismissed the civil rights lawsuit by David and Tonia Parker of Lexington, concluding there is an obligation for public schools to teach young children to accept and endorse homosexuality.

Is he kidding? Endorse? From Wing Nut Daily (emphasis mine):

In a case that could wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court, an appeals panel upheld dismissal of a lawsuit by Massachusetts parents seeking to prevent discussion of homosexual families in their children’s elementary school classrooms.

They don’t even want to talk about homosexual families. Your personal faith can be bigoted I suppose, but that is just denying reality. (emphasis mine)

“Public schools,” wrote Judge Sandra L. Lynch, “are not obliged to shield individual students from ideas which potentially are religiously offensive, particularly when the school imposes no requirement that the student agree with or affirm those ideas, or even participate in discussions about them.

I guess these parents will opt to keep their kids home to school, where they may remain shielded and dumb to the outside world. Sandra Lynch is absolutely correct in her opinion. Note that last part. How does an optional discussion of the existence of homosexual parents constitute either endorsement or even acceptance? Thats just dishonest.

4. Apparently churches shouldn’t be able to discipline according to the Bible

A gay Christian who won a claim against the Church of England has been awarded more than £47,000 in compensation. John Reaney took the Hereford diocesan board of finance to an employment tribunal after his appointment as a youth worker was blocked.

This is an interesting case. Should Christian Identity churches be allowed to keep people of color from working for them? (Frankly, stunts like these are just another reason for removing the tax-exempt status of Churches). As an employer, why should they be allowed to discriminate while secular employers cannot? Why should Churches operate above the law?

Unfortunately there are some interesting issues to discuss here, without getting frantic.

1, Christian photographer hauled before Human Rights Commission for refusing same-sex job. I wish it would have been a Muslim photographer. That would have made it more interesting.

“I wish it would have been a Muslim photographer”? Wow. It would have been every bit as heinous. Why stop at photography? Why not allow hotels to ban gay customers, or restaurants to refuse to server LGBT individuals? What’s even more disturbing is the couple’s insistence (it was actually a couple who owned a small photography business, if you read past the headline) that this was “communicating a message”. It was a marriage. They wanted pictures for their album. This just heads back to the Christianist hysteria that the Gays are trying to spread homosexuality.

Neil ends on a positive note with a quote from his favorite holy book (which is faultless and dictated by God, btw):

Matthew 18:6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

That’s beautiful Neil. That’s effectively calling for the Lexington school district, teachers, gay rights advocates, lawyers in the case, and the judges along the way who affirmed those rights, to be killed. Neil has crossed the line that divides bigotry and hate, and done so with an eliminationist flourish.

UPDATE:  A commentor at 4Simpsons, one “Bubba”, has invited folks who comment here to journey on over and offer their opinions right into the gnashing teeth of the beast.  (It seems the fundies don’t like coming over to play on the liberal /rational side of the fence, Neil and Theobromophile excluded).

I Just Want to Slam the Fucking Pie Into Her Face

A while back I caught a story via Feministing about a truly awful gym.  Well, I got an email from one Keely Spencer (Marketing Manager at 5280) suggesting I head on over to check out an article.  He thought I’d be interested.  He was right (5280):

“Can…can I just smash her right now?”

“No, Michael, not now.”

“But, I really want to.”

“Not yet, Michael.”

It was a late-summer afternoon and Michael Karolchyk, a chocolate pie in one hand, stood in the family room of a LoDo penthouse loft, in front of an overweight actress smiling wearily from a faded floral-print couch. Karolchyk—already notorious for yelling into a bullhorn and throwing cupcakes at clients—was filming the latest commercial for his unorthodox, vulgar, and suddenly booming Anti-Gym business, but the script still wasn’t outrageous enough.

Starting to get a kind of sick feeling in the pit of your stomach?

He was giddy at the thought of slamming a pie into her face.

“Leave the pie out for now, Michael. I know you’re dying,” the director called, sensing the uneasiness swell. “God, we’re so far off the script right now.”

Karolchyk silently scanned the faces looking back at him. He had paid these people, and dammit, they were going to listen to him.

“I want to push her into the couch.”

If you read the rest of the article, it gets really easy to see this guy as buying into the very worst of the destructive memes he’s using to sell his business.  He’s reinforcing the idea of women as sex objects, and violence as a means of expressing male sexuality.  He’s the super buff alpha male here to show the loser woman her place in the world, and offer her the only salvation, the next and final rung on the ladder:  sex object:

To leverage and promote his brand, he’s created a spin-off modeling agency, Sexellence, to use as a launching point for a website that, for $3.99 per click, will include videos and photos of nude women, alone and together.

“How many of you have gone to college?” he asked. Several hands shot in the air. “Wow,” he said in mock surprise, “educated girls, fantastic. So, since you’re in school you know some things. Things like how to get to the next level.” He paced in front the room. “San Diego and Arizona, the girls are on fire. They all have big boobs already. They already have big lips. Nice loooong legs that go on all day. You can go to a restaurant and get six chicks like that,” he said. “Now you guys, if you work hard enough, you can be the Midwest Queen.” He paused for effect. “You all are hot as shit for Denver. But that’s like saying you’re hot as shit for South Dakota.” The women nodded in agreement.

Let us suspend our disbelief for a moment, and take a magical journey into a land where Michael’s motivations are as pure as snow.  He wants to help more women become fit, and believes the only way to do so is the take the worst stereotypes and expectations throws at women and use those to manipulate women into a healthier lifestyle.  Even if this was somehow the case, the manner in which Michael is promoting his business is actively hurting women.  It is fueling the fires of misogyny, self hate, and violence against women.

Even if he was just cynically exploiting the fears society drills into women, he isn’t even aiming them at fitness.  “They all have big boobs already. They already have big lips.”.  And do they get those by working out at the Anti-Gym?  How many pushups equals a silicone implant?
But beneath it all, there is an unmistakable whiff of something more than a little off:

Daylight was fading in the loft. Karolchyk was getting restless.

“I just want to slam this fucking pie into her head!”

Whatever pretenses Michael makes, he is not a healthy man:

She says her family witnessed the transformation after her son moved to Colorado. His explanation for the rift with his mother is a radio interview Karolchyk says he gave in 2007 in which he called her fat; she heard it and was deeply hurt. This is news to Pat Karolchyk, who says she has never heard her son on the radio. “Why does he lie?” she says. “What does he have to gain from hurting his parents? What is he trying to do to his family?”

Healthy? His effect on people is anything but:

During one filming at his Cherry Creek gym, Karolchyk harangued about a dozen women, all of them in their early 20s, some with children, most with stories of drunken sexual escapades. They were easy targets, vulnerable to his criticism. Their breasts were too small, he told them. Their asses were too big. He wanted them to kiss each other and dance nude in his hot tub. One woman, a tiny, 20-year-old wannabe model named Samantha, told him her C-cup breasts “were a good size” and said she kept fit by jogging regularly. Karolchyk seized the opportunity, asking her to turn slowly, take off her top, and jog in a circle. She complied with each request, kicking her legs like a horse, her breasts flipping while a half-dozen cameras preserved the moment. “Niiiice,” Karolchyk said.

A few days later I called her.

“I told my boyfriend what I did, and he said it didn’t sound like me,” Samantha said. “My mom would be disappointed.” She said she found herself getting embarrassed for the other women at the audition. “I thought, ‘That poor girl,’ but that’s probably what the other girls were thinking about me. I mean, I’m so not even like that.”

She went quiet for a few seconds before whispering, “That’s not who I am. I’m disappointed in myself.”

I felt sorry for her, an impressionable young woman who craved acceptance so badly that she’d compromised herself in a roomful of strangers. But I had been just as susceptible to his influence. A few weeks earlier, as we walked along 16th Street downtown, Karolchyk announced that he needed a tan, even though his skin was its typical warm honey color. A few blocks from the salon, he stopped. “You know, why don’t you get a tan, too?” he said. “My treat.”

I told him I’d never sought a tan, solar or otherwise.

“No, really,” he said, deadpan. “You’re whiter than shit.”

He kept insisting; I kept declining. Finally, in the drawn-out voice of a schoolyard bully, he said, “You…are…whiter…than…shit.”

Minutes later I was filling out a form acknowledging that tanning can cause skin cancer.

Read the part about Samantha again.  Now try and tell yourself there’s nothing wrong with that.  Differentiate it from the sleaze of Girls Gone Wild.  Now read the part where a staff writer falls under the same spell.  The article goes on to talk about how the image this man projects is so effective, and how it pulls people into it the power of its narrative.

One of the things I try and point out here is how various strains of extremism keep slipping into mainstream culture.  Generally when I write about this topic it centers around racism, anti-semitism, islamophobia, homophobia, and eliminationist rhetoric.  However a strident and nasty strain of anti-feminism is taking giant strides where violent racism and anti-semitism are limping.  When you stop and consider the incredible scale of hate aimed squarely at women it is enough to completely overload one’s ability to even consider it.  And its growing.

So when some jackass liar decides the best way to market his gym is to appeal to this growing tide of fear and hate, we ought to pay attention.  Not to him, but to the trends around him that are pulling this into the culture we all live in, and to the effects of that negative energy.

That we may effectively counter it.

Republicans: Eliminating Muslims

Its always startling when a nasty bout of hate breaks out close to home. There’s a lot of nastiness in Herndon, VA. I was living in Reston when this joyful little gathering took place. So again I was startled when I came across this item over at Feministe (Jill):


That’s a short metro ride away. The post itself is about the comments by Rudy’s Aide, suggesting we need to “get rid of” Muslims. Jill goes into a bit more depth:

Deady later clarified:

“When I say get rid of them, I wasn’t necessarily referring to genocide. What I was referring to is, stand up to them every time they stick up their heads and attack us. We can’t afford to say, `We’ll try diplomacy.’ They don’t respond to it. If you look into Islamic tradition, a treaty is only good for five years. We’re not dealing with a rational mindset here. We’re dealing with madmen.”

“I wasn’t necessarily referring to genocide?” That may be more telling than the original comment.

Indeed. I hadn’t caught the clarification. It is worse than the original comment, all the more so in that its unfolding in a responsibility vacuum on the part of Giuliani.

Via Jill, Ali continues:

I will leave it to each individual to determine whether the GOP’s “gaffes” are just that, or that they are part of a sustained campaign to not only lose as many American-Muslim votes as possible (you guys are succeeding!), but to further demonize Islam in order to perpetuate some kind of religious standoff consistent with Tim Lahaye’s vision.

I think we have two things going on here. The first is that the Republican field is rife with riffs on the original Southern Strategy. We see it with Huckabee’s winks and nods to hardline evangelical Christians and anti-immigrant rants, Ron Paul’s winks to the white supremacist set, and Rudy’s Islamophobe nods.

The second is a rising tide of eliminationist rhetoric on the right, targeting Women, Muslims, Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Homosexuals, and of course, Liberals. Sometimes this speech is hidden, as in the references to “New York/Hollywood liberals” (Jews) or “San Francisco liberals” (Homosexuals). And sometimes it is right out in the open, as is the case with the Georgetown poster up above targeting Muslims. In each case, the right wing in the country is working its base into a violent frenzy. All of this virulent hate seeping into and around the mainstream is normalizing notions of inferiority and “otherness”, as well as the appropriateness of violent reactions.

We cannot stand silently by while this tide of hatred and violence rises.

UPDATE: Just a note, the poster is satirical (the actual poster, which you can see here, is arguably worse than the satire (which adheres nicely to Tom Tomorrow’s rule of right wing reality).)

Eliminationist Rudy Aide On the Rise of the Muslims

Greg Sargent puts it best:

This has already gotten some attention, but it deserves a lot more.

So what happened?  (Emphasis mine)

The Guardian of London is conducting video documentaries up in New Hampshire. And they did a segment on Rudy in which they got a very off-kilter quote about Muslims from a Rudy campaign official in the state. The Guardian identifies him as John Deady, the co-chair of state Veterans for Rudy.

Deady — and the key here is that he is a Rudy campaign official — says that Rudy should be our President because he has what it takes to tackle one of our “most difficult problems,” which he identifies as the “rise of the Muslims.” Deady adds that we need to “chase them back to their caves” or otherwise “get rid of them.”

At the moment, there is silence from the Giuliani campaign and the mass media.

Any chance the national press will see this as newsworthy?

The Rudy campaign didn’t immediately return a request for comment. You can watch the whole video from The Guardian here.

In addition to the media question, what I want to know is:  Will the Giuliani campaign condemn this, or will they let it quietly form a new southern strategy?

Crush the Other Cheek

Christianity is going through another pitched battle for its soul.  On the one side you have hate, ignorance, and violence.  Tired Of This:

A verse from Rufus Wainwright’s song, “Going to a Town” (the song that gave this blog its title) has been repeating in my head all day after reading the story at Pam’s House Blend about the anti-gay self-proclaimed Christians protesting at the Seven Straight Nights candle-light vigil organized by Soulforce and Atticus Circle.

Tell me

Do you really think you go to hell for having loved?

“Jon and Dawn Kennedy were two of those people at the celebration. Their brother, Sean Kennedy, died May 16, 2007 in Greenville, S.C., after being struck by a man who reportedly called Sean a faggot before striking Sean with such force that it crushed the bones in his face. Sean died from the one fatal blow.

Sean’s mother was present at Seven Straight Nights and was one of the event’s several speakers, including Faith In America Executive Director Jimmy Creech.

When Sean’s brother and sister politely told the leader of the anti-gay protesters that their brother was killed and that their hateful speech promotes violence toward gay and lesbian people, the protester flatly and unemotionally told Jon and Dawn Kennedy that their brother “was burning in hell right now.”

Tell me

Via Dave at Orcinus, this violent take on Christianity is on the rise:

The crude irony in all this, of course, is that the Watchmen on the Walls themselves are associated with a wide range of violent gay-bashing embodied by street thuggery and hate crimes, which reminds a lot of people of the Brownshirts who paved the way for Nazi rule in Germany, as well as Italy’s Blackshirted squadristi. Even more disturbingly, they — and conferences like the one in Lynnwood — represent a coalescence of American fundamentalist Christians and international street thugs motivated by a theocratic thirst for power.

Pastor Joseph Fuiten — who in the past has argued that non-Christians should be considered illegal aliens — who in addressing the audience Saturday chose mostly to complain about coverage of the Watchmen and claim that they’re just benign Christians standing up for decency

This is patently false.  These are Christians standing up for hate and violence, and we in the world community need to stand against what they preach.

There is nothing redeeming about an outpouring of hate for gay people.  This is not religion.  It is virulent and abusive.  It is the soul of the very worst humanity has to offer, the separation into groups of “others” we can safely hate and hurt.

Lively isn’t the only Watchmen leader to call it a “war.” So has the Rev. Ken Hutcherson, the Kirkland-area pastor who was Saturday’s second speaker. In January, he told the Seattle Times, “We better wake up. This is a war.”

The rhetoric, however, is not merely relegated to a combat mentality, but in fact is overtly eliminationist. One of Hutcherson’s cohorts, quoted in the same Seattle Times piece, compares them to a disease

This false Christianity is a lie, and should be revealed for the ugly beast it is at every opportunity.  The fundamentalists want a war, and they have gone to great lengths to start it.  We can be the ones to stop it with uncompromising logic and limitless compassion.

Identity vs Circumstance and Hate

I have an odd way of seeing myself in the world. How I fit in the larger picture, so to speak. I’d like to talk a bit about identity and circumstance, and how these two very separate ideas get confused.

I wish I could say an example of “self” hate like this was startling (David Neiwert, Orcinus):

I was on David Goldstein’s radio show last night and, in between segments, we wound up chatting briefly on the subject of anti-Semitic Jews. Not being Jewish, I’m not very comfortable wrestling with the issue — but Goldstein, being very Jewish, has no compunction about it at all. He said he’s looking forward to talking about them when the subject arises, and he thinks it will a lot in the coming year.

I share in David Goldstein’s enthusiasm. The very thought of so many inconsistent brick heads makes my rhetorical karate chops water in anticipation. But that’s not the only reason. This kind of hatred for one’s own group provides an excellent opportunity to take a peek into the logic behind affirmative action, immigration policy, hatred, peace, and a number of issues that revolve around how we see ourselves and others.

First there is the matter of my own identity. I was born into the culture and faith of Judaism. How I got to where I am now is a bit of a story, so I’ll be brief. A combination of exposure to various philosophical traditions and my own intellectual curiosity have left me something of a theist. That said, there is still this ingrained sense of identity with the Jewish tradition. A love of humor and stories as a way of understanding and interacting with the world, and a sense of familiar and comfortable logic when traveling through the words of those who came before me.

But that is not how I view myself. I see myself purely as a human being, and I understand my heritage in those terms more with each passing day. I am every bit the heir to Gandhi, hitler, pol pot, MLK, FDR and Rumi as I am to any other luminary or dark stain upon history. I share in the shame and guilt of the German people, and in the pain and suffering in Darfur. Every tyrant shares my blood, as does every revolutionary.

This view cuts at one of the core components of hatred. Exclusive Identity: Here is where we get into one of the driving misunderstandings of the right wing movement. I’ll start with an example: Affirmative Action.

Affirmative action is viewed on the right in terms of Identity. You have a certain identity, and you get certain privileges. Whereas on the left it is viewed as a response to circumstance. In other words Affirmative Action was a response towards inequality generated by identity based hate, to address the circumstances created. It was also a rhetorical slap towards that hatred. So in one sense, switching to a economic based set of criteria is entirely natural. On the other, we are losing that rhetorical punch packed by group based affirmative action.

What we have is a gulf in how we see each other. When it comes to immigration, we see individuals responding to circumstance. Conservatives see a group of “permanent criminals” or “invading hispanic hordes”, depending on how far down wing nut lane you traipse.

Which brings us back to the example of the Conservative Jew (not to be confused with religious conservatism within Judaism) who is so caught up in the culture of hate that she engages in a flimsy defense of her new friends on the far reich:

The rapid Islamisation of Europe must be fought. In order to fight it, political parties must be engaged. If not, how then to effect change?

I will make the case for the Europeans desperate to save their country(s). I did research (and continue to) and see the ghosts but VB or more particularly the Swedish Democrats have done nothing in recent years that I need to worry about. The Swedish Democrats have had their purge a few years ago and are now clean. I see a pattern of such transformations in several European countries. If they want to become respectable, pro-Israel, I am thrilled to be part of the process.

I can’t be held captive to past associations. That’s like the left repeatedly running the pic of Rumsfeld and Saddam back in the 80s. Every party, every person, everywhere has past associations that are irrelevant to what’s happening now. Hell, I was once a Democrat.

Hell, why not join the KKK? They had their purge years ago, and are now clean. This kind of convenient douche logic never holds up to even cursory examination. It fails in a spectacularly instructive way now.

Take another look (emphasis mine):

Every party, every person, everywhere has past associations that are irrelevant to what’s happening now.

This is absolutely the crux of the problem with the right wing today. They do not understand that the relationships and histories we built in the past are driving world events in the present. A group of neo-nazis that once attacked the Jews are now attacking Muslims. This is very relevant. The whole mess we call the Middle East is a hotbed of past grudges being played out day after day. Those “past associations” are what keep the Middle East burning.

We absolutely must understand and grapple with those associations, just as we must understand how the hatred in our own past has made efforts like affirmative action and the civil rights law necessary. What we must be careful of is falling into the trap of exclusive identity politics. In the Middle East, we are on the side of both the Israelis and Palestinians, the Sunni and the Shiite, Turk and Kurd. Here at home, that applies with the same urgency.

Our identity is shared. Our circumstances are not. If we want to make the world a better place, we can start by recognizing our shared past, and offering our help to those who are, quite literally, our people: humanity.

Minuteman Vigilante Murder?

Someone appears to shoot and kill a man crossing the border in a video by members of the Minutemen.

The Minutemen are a controversial group, and given their vigilante approach to the sensitive politics of immigration, something like this was bound to happen. David (Orcinus) wonders:

Wonder if Lou Dobbs and Michelle Malkin still want to claim that the Minutemen are just a big neighborhood watch. And I wonder if anyone will remember them when someone gets hurt.

Well, someone got hurt. And the Minutement are afraid someone will remember them (Casey, Hatewatch, emphasis mine):

On Aug. 11, the day after Hatewatch posted the first night-vision video, San Diego Minutemen founder Jeff Schwilk posted the following message to a Minuteman discussion group online:

“If the media goes to Patriot Point to confront Lil Dog (or Leland) on this, I’m afraid it could be 10 times worse than it already is. I asked Lil Dog for a statement of facts about this yesterday, but he has not given me one yet. He’s telling people there is nothing wrong with the video. He doesn’t feel he owes anyone an explanation of why he thinks its ok to post death threats on the internet…

I have a press release all ready to go if this hits the American media. We will isolate this incident and these people from the rest of us to minimize damage to the Minuteman movement. Lil Dog, my advice is go take a vacation and get away from the border for a while or longer. And make sure Leland stays away from the border too. Disappear for a while.”

Schwilk knows this could be very damaging. He is taking the kind of bold steps PR management firms advise handling corporate malfeasance. His advice to the pair who apparently made the video, “Disappear for a while”, is reminiscent of something Tony Soprano might say to a successful hitman.

The problem is that this kind of violence is a direct outgrowth of an organization like the Minutemen. They attract the worst sort, and not without reason. They provide an outlet for a nakedly racist, nativist worldview. They then send them on vigilante missions to intimidate and report “illegals”.

Perhaps this video is nothing more than a staged act of violence, a “death threat”, as Schwilk writes. The SPLC Intelligence Report is investigating. Let’s hope that’s all it is. In the meantime this video provides a starting point for a discussion we need to see played out in the presidential debates, the media, and the blogs. We need to directly address the hate and the fear behind the act shown in the video.

UPDATE: The video is a fake.

That Eliminationist Demographic

XicanoPwr digs into an offensive ad:

There seems to be an offensive ad running loose around the net called “Shoot The Rapper!” The advertisement features an animated rapper that resembles 50 Cent and a photographer whose camera you have to position to “shoot the rapper.” If you can, “You will win $5000 or 5 ringtones guaranteed.”

The advertisers are playing a clever game here:

Even though a camera is used to “shoot” the rapper and not the “gun” one would expect, the desired effect is to trigger a perception in which the person assumes a weapon would be used if they click the ad. Considering a camera is used when they actually play the game, the advertising company actually played on an average person’s own prior conditioning and frame of reference with the use of the cross hairs, which is the trigger that actually fools the person.

Here’s a fun experiment.  Head down to the old psycho-linguistics laboratory.  Here’s the basic method:  Show a slide for a short interval before showing participants either a picture of a gun, or a picture of an elephant.  For the slide, show either this ad, a picture of a watermelon, or a shot of an actual photographer snapping a photo of a celebrity.  Track recognition time for that sentence.  I’ll bet you find that time significantly decreases for the picture of the gun with the slide containing the advertisement.  I’ll bet an off the cuff experiment like this has been repeated a number of times with increasing sophistication by marketing firms.  When you engage in good marketing, you don’t shoot blind.

The key to a good hit is twofold.  Find an existing hook to grab onto, and create a firm and lasting impression.  Its the hook that interests us here.  What are the marketers aiming at?

Pesky Post Humans: Convert or Die!

Dave takes a nother look at some choice eliminationist crazy talk from the right (quoting Mark Steyn):

It’s getting harder not to conclude that parts of Europe are evolving into a kind of post-human society.

“Post-human”? The clear implication of this coinage is that these people are also sub-human, or in any event non-human — and by extension, fully worthy of extinction or elimination.

Mark Noonan continues the crazy talk:

And then Mark Noonan at Blogs for Bush picked it up and ran with it, extending the reach of these “post humans” to America as well, and concluding thus:

There are two things which can stop this slide into barbarism and death: the conquest of the west by people who believe in something, or the revival of a west which has returned to its moral and intellectual roots. Those are the choices – be conquered by Moslems (who at least believe in something higher than themselves and their personal pleasures), or become Judeo-Christian. Death or conversion, take your pick.

It isn’t too hard to see the basic theme of palingenesis running through this analysis — which, combined with the ugly eliminationism, makes this meme possibly the most definitively fascist talking point to proceed from the “mainstream” right yet.

If you click through to Mark’s post, it just get’s worse:

We’ve been energetically going away from these roots for more than a century and a half, and our result of this is cannibalism, incest and infanticide. There’s a word for all that: barbarism.

Mark is placing the West’s “moral and intellectual roots” at opposition with the barbarism of ‘”modern” thinking’.  There are a host of problems with his rant:

  1. During whatever “golden age” Mark is imagining,  does he really think that cannibalism, incest and infanticide did not exist?  Or is he faithfully pointing to the theocratic Dark Ages as a model of human decency?
  2. The “moral and intellectual roots” Mark is pointing to is clearly religion, specifically Christianity.  That, in conjunction with his dictum “Convert or Die”, is bringing back the blood and the suffering of the inquisition and other forced conversions throughout history.  It is painting the shame of the West as its glory.
  3. It assumes that a few violent cases represent the morality of an entire society.
  4. It assumes a those accused in said crimes are not religious.
  5. The forced conversion advocated is in no way compatible with the founding principles of this country.  I suppose this is to be expected from a “Blog for Bush”, but some pretense of care for the constitutional separation of Church and State would have been nice.

As a prescription for America, Mark’s advice would throw out our freedom in exchange for a bloodless past that never existed.  When Americans are called imperialists and crusaders, it is this kind of thinking that builds that perception.

This is an end we should all reject.

Traitor-Speak: Whoa There, Conservaboy!

witorwisdom tackles the HuffingtonPost with his own… post on protesters:

They are traitors. They hate this country and would like nothing better than to see it fail.

The title is “Tom Delay Questions the Patriotism of Protestors” (Ironically, no one questioned Delay’s patriotism. Or his ethics). Of course, calling dissenters traitors is nothing new.

The problem with this fake patriotic “call protesters traitors” post is that it misses the strength and the beauty of being American. Dissent is the very essence of America. There is nothing more anti-American than throwing around the phrase “traitor” lightly.

This country was built on the rock solid foundations of Freedom and Democracy. That won’t disappear because someone says something you do not like. Criticizing this government and calling out its crimes is not a traitorous act. It is a basic responsibility for every citizen.The argument itself is disingenuous (emphasis mine):

They are traitors. They hate this country and would like nothing better than to see it fail.

Just looking at the war, we protest the war because our country is failing. We understand that this failure is costing American lives, Iraqi lives, the lives of coalition troops, the lives of reporters. We understand that it is making more terrorists, and making the world more dangerous. We understand the billions being wasted on this war could solve problems and save lives wherever we choose, if we so choose. That is the key here. We understand. It is because we understand that we dissent, and we do so out of a deep an ardent love for our country and all the people in it.

American dissenters against the war are not going anywhere. Our feet are firmly planted, and it is this war that shall be moved.

When we raise our voice and roar, that is the sound of patriotism.

UPDATE: Check out the comments thread here for a few examples of eliminationist rhetoric aimed at dissent.

Censorship, Ethics and Freedom

Amanda has a thought provoking piece up at Pandagon:

So while agreeing about the usefulness of the trust rhetoric, let me go a step further and say that it’s sad that it’s even necessary to use language like that. Freedom is not contigent on universal good use of it, or it’s not really freedom. The most popular example of this principle is with freedom of speech. If people were to have their right to free speech pulled because they said repugnant things—think the KKK on some hate march—then we don’t have free speech. Same with reproductive rights. You don’t really have your rights if they can be snatched because other people dislike your reasons.

This reminded me of a post over at Firedoglake:

And there’s access. As the Libby Trial demonstrated, “access” journalism requires access, and if a cartoon will cost you that access, well . . . cut the cartoon, as the St. Paul Pioneer Press did with a 2002 Kirk Anderson cartoon on priestly child abuse. Fear of “giving offense” is another form of this self-censorship, as when the Atlanta Journal Constitution kept a 2003 Mike Luckovich masterpiece out of circulation – “W LIED” spelled out with flag draped coffins. Even Joseph Pulitzer’s paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, comes in for criticism by Wallis.

Peterr is referencing this article at sfgate:

“Consider the use of cartoons,” he wrote. “Ridicule is one of the most potent weapons which we can use.”

As Art Buchwald observed, “Dictators of the right and the left fear the political cartoonist more than they do the atomic bomb.”

I have written before about eliminationist speech and it’s consequences. I firmly believe that a horrible line is crossed when those in power single out a minority with hate speech that moves people to violence. It puts an ironic spin on the immortal words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall in The Friends of Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”.

What if you are defending speech that literally calls for your death? How does this argument extend towards reproductive rights? Towards questions of war and peace? Is the measure for censorship whether our speech and our actions end in violence?

While sponsored speech is not free speech, stopping it still constitutes censorship. If you stop a cartoonist from publishing an image that shows a minority being hung in the midst of a smiling crowd, with the words “Finally, Justice”, you are censoring him. By that same token there is a real danger in that cartoon. It recalls lynching postcards. Let’s go a step further. Imagine the minority in this case is a Muslim. This is, as an act of speech, utterly vile and violently dangerous…

Should we draw the line here? It is clear the cartoon illustrated “W Lied” with flag draped comics is simply making a political statement, and not inciting violence. For a moment though, let’s step inside the anti-abortion mindset. Imagine another cartoon, this one with a woman heading into an abortion clinic. The cartoon reads “Finally Free: Her Choice”. Couldn’t someone on the right argue that this incites violence against the unborn? Would that be reason to censor it?

It gets trickier still. If cutting sponsorship of certain speech is acceptable (we should be able to choose who and what we support), then questions of acceptability moderate what speech is heard. Potentially offensive material gets thrown out along with truly violent material. In the end you are left with a public forum in which sponsored speech has dramatically more reach than free speech, but is limited to the polite few. There is a vital place for rude speech and action in Democracy. Censorship by access cuts at this directly.

The problem is there are really two competing freedoms in any issue of censorship which involves access.

This brings us back to Amanda’s observation:

Freedom is not contigent on universal good use of it, or it’s not really freedom.

This would suggest that we need to leave both options open. We cannot directly stop the use of speech that incites violence. We also cannot directly stop its censorship by a particular organization. To do either would be to restrict freedom.

This still leaves us with an important tool: Free Speech. While sponsored speech has a wider reach, and can be limited by the sponsors, free speech is wild and everywhere. When a radio host tells listeners shooting a newspaper editor is a good idea, we can call on the sponsors to censor him. When a magazine cuts a cartoon that questions the patriotism of blind loyalty, we can rally public opinion to support the artist. Free Speech provides the ultimate arbiter of sponsored speech within a society.

What we need to do is give free speech a larger role in the public forum.