Still not much useful to say about the sad events of this past weekend. My one venture into it (elsewhere) has been to argue that we just don’t know enough about the shooter to start ascribing causes. While much of this country appears not to recognize any line between crazy and political, I’m still willing to draw one. But the larger conversation has already started about violent political rhetoric, and I’m seeing far too much of this “both sides need to tone it down” approach.
Violent political rhetoric comes overwhelmingly from the right in America these days, and it’s echoed well up into the Republican ranks. While I’m certain you can find instances of calls for violence on the left, you’ll be digging in website comments for it or pointing to some kid at a World Bank protest. Paul Krugman explains the difference:
And it’s the saturation of our political discourse — and especially our airwaves — with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence.
Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be “armed and dangerous” without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.
And there’s a huge contrast in the media. Listen to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann, and you’ll hear a lot of caustic remarks and mockery aimed at Republicans. But you won’t hear jokes about shooting government officials or beheading a journalist at The Washington Post. Listen to Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, and you will.
The Republican party likes to harp on about responsibility. It should familiarize itself with the concept and actually take some. Not that I expect it will happen. Instead of behaving like adults who have a stake in society, we’re just going to get more whining attempts at turning themselves into victims. It’s what they do.