Links in this episode:
On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be mostly talking about the shooting in Arizona that injured dozens and killed six, mostly in terms of how a playbook basically written by anti-choicers is being used to deflect criticism by the right at large. But I’ll also have an interview with author Danielle Macguire about her book on sexual violence and the civil rights movement.
I really liked this interview Sam Seder did with Alex Pareene about the false equivalence issue that always comes up when the right comes under fire for out of control rhetoric.
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He also points out that one of the major issues is that the right engages in relentless rhetoric undermining the right of the federal government to rule. This, in turn, creates a paranoid justification for violence.
Is it me, or does it seem like political violence is becoming practically a monthly thing nowadays? The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords that killed six people has produced the usual discourse. Liberals try to hold the right accountable for inciting. Right wingers throw a bunch of excuses and noise around to try to evade responsibility. They mostly get away with it. Which means that the violent, paranoid rhetoric continues, and sadly so will the violence.
If you want to see where this is all heading, as I’ve said before and will invariably say again, look to the anti-choice movement. Anti-choice activists have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to the mainstreaming of right wing violence and violent rhetoric. And from this example, we can safely say that things can and probably will get much worse. One of the things they’ve been effective at doing is encouraging the violence on one hand while making lip-smacking noises to evade responsibility when it does happen on the other hand.
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The “both sides” rhetoric misses the point, of course. Only one side can really be said to be truly sincere in this. Anti-choicers who condemned the murder of Dr. Tiller went, often on that same day, right back to inciting violence. Jill Stanek posted pictures and directions to the next target, Dr. Carhart’s office. Most anti-choice outlets focused most of their attention on what an evil person they claimed Dr. Tiller was, which of course reads like justifying his murder even with the obligatory denials up front. And they continue to fight us on getting basic security measures taken, such as passing new laws and enforcing old ones that would help reduce violence. They continue to target doctors for harassment campaigns, even though the evidence shows that doing so dramatically raises the possibility of violence. Condemning violence requires more than insincere disavowals.
And because of this steady drumbeat, anti-choicers have been able to cultivate tolerance for anti-choice violence. So much so that the Republican Vice Presidential nominee in 2008 got away with this:
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Let’s be clear. If a Muslim terrorist blew up a mall, we wouldn’t pretend he wasn’t a terorrist. That anti-choicers have gotten this country to the point where politicians refuse to label anti-choice terrorists as such shows that they’ve mainstreamed domestic terrorism, even as they issue routine disavowals that invariably involve implying the victim was a bad person who had it coming.
The playbook employed by anti-choicers is being used by the right now when it comes to acts of domestic terrorism that are right wing but not against abortion providers. First, you demand that only the person who did it be held accountable, and claim that it’s ridiculous to suggest that the people who painted the target on someone’s back bear any blame if someone decides to pull the trigger. Then you act like you’re the real victim here, and not, say, the person who got shot. Then you smear the real victim or victims. Rush Limbaugh employed that script on Tuesday.
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Yep, you got it. He’s claiming that the Democrats are siding with a guy who shoots Democrats.
Bill O’Reilly, who helped paint a target on Dr. Tiller’s back by relentlessly calling him “Tiller the Baby Killer”, has had a lot of practice at deflection when someone actually strikes out against the kind of people he targets on his show. And he whipped out his well-practiced rant in response to Paul Krugman sensibly writing, “Citizens of other democracies may marvel at the American psyche, at the way efforts by mildly liberal presidents to expand health coverage are met with cries of tyranny and talk of armed resistance.” O’Reilly’s response was to claim there was nothing that could be done and that he’s the real victim here.
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O’Reilly hopes that raising his voice somehow constitutes an argument. But the accusation still stands. Pouring out paranoid lies and escalating violent rhetoric is irresponsible. O’Reilly admits that psychopaths are out there, but then gets indignant at the suggestion that they not be egged on. That makes no kind of sense, but the hill he’s always been willing to die on is defending over-the-top right wing rhetoric from criticism. Part two of this report after the interview.
The link between anti-choice terrorism and this shooting in Arizona goes beyond just the way that the anti-choice community has laid out a roadmap for how to deflect blame for political violence. It’s been reported that the shooter in Arizona, Jared Loughner, had an incident in class once where he yelled at a woman and called her a “terrorist” because she had an abortion. Unsurprisingly, LifeSiteNews responded to a shooting of a pro-choice politician by implying she had it coming, by calling her “pro-abort”.
But back to how the right is really following the anti-choice playbook this time. One thing that anti-choicers do is try to claim a false equivalence, often making up stories about how they’re subject to violence when they’re not. Or claiming martyrs that aren’t, like an anti-choicer who was shot by someone who just didn’t like the guy. “Both sides” was a major gambit this time out.
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There is no “both sides” in this. No one can honestly say that there’s any equivalence in the heat and paranoia between the right and the left. Most paranoia on the left is relegated to the fringes, not put on during prime hours on news channels. When it does surface, like Michael Moore saying weird things about the Assange rape case on MSNBC, there is a massive reaction, which in that case caused him to take it back.
Another anti-choice post-terrorism gambit is to throw the person who did it under the bus and deny any ties, doing everything they can to suggest the person who committed anti-abortion terrorism acted alone. In this case, the guy really doesn’t seem to have any ties, but the gambit is basically the same, which is to imply that this was isolated and unexpected. Dick Armey tried this one.
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The notion that shooting a politician in the head is apolitical is a new one. Even anti-choicers don’t try to suggest people shoot abortion doctors for any other reason but they are trying to stop abortion.
Then there’s the straight up lying gambit, which is something that Operation Rescue people did after the shooting of Dr. Tiller. They had known and worked with the murderer Scott Roeder for years, and he had one of the leader’s phone numbers on him when he was caught. They denied knowing him. Glenn Beck basically went with straight up lying, as well.
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First of all, this is somewhat missing the point. Violent rhetoric is part of the problem, but a larger part is the paranoia that encourages freakouts, regardless of whether or not you spell out how someone should freak out. Anti-choicers don’t have to tell their people to shoot doctors. They just call doctors murderers, and target them for relentless harassment, and the occasional shooter fills in the blanks. But this is also just a lie, as Beck has claimed the Obama administration is trying to kill him.
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Which leads me to the last way that the right in general is following the anti-choice lead. After Dr. Tiller’s murder, a favorite deflection tactic was to play the victim, but also to make a mockery out the tragedy by saying it was a pittance compared to all the fetuses who are aborted. In a similar way, folks on the right are basically playing the victim here, as if they were oblivious to the six actual people who died and the congresswoman who took a bullet in her head. This is what Glenn Beck claims he said to Sarah Palin.
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Pretending that this is about Palin’s safety is nasty and low, and is basically all but denying the actual crime that happened really did happen. Shoving aside the reality of violence to talk about your fantasy world of violence? That’s pretty much standard operating procedure for anti-choicers in the wake of anti-choice violence, and sadly, I think that’s what we’re going to be seeing from the right in general from now on.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Limbaugh completely loses his mind again edition.
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I suppose we’ll have to remind Limbaugh of his anti-rape apologist stance in the future, but for now, I’m just going to say being criticized for things you actually said and did is not the same thing as being raped. Or as being shot in the head