In today's LA Times (1), Orrin Hatch (R-Cigna) promises "holy war" to halt the healthcare bill. A couple of days ago, Rush told his listeners they were in a "war without bullets". Beck told his listeners that they were the teenage girl and the government was Roman Polanski. One presumes he didn't mean that the government was going to make visionary, innovative films. No, he meant the government is going to rape you.
Holy war. "War without bullets". "Whites of their eyes". That repugnant Dachau poster. "I'm a proud right-wing terrorist". The rampant racism of the Birther clowns. Am I crazy or is anyone else noticing a pattern here?
The right loves to equivocate. They love to claim that the left were just as bad to Bush, the Democrats were just as hyperbolic and obstructionist. Both claims are untrue, of course, but they're par for the course on the right. What is new is the increasing level of militancy in the rhetoric; subtle (and sometimes overt) allusions to violence. The left, who were routinely accused of being unpatriotic for criticising Bush (who the right pretend to have always been against now) didn't go anything like this far. Perhaps a few posters in the underdepths of the webway posted violent fantasies but in the left as a whole, it didn't happen. And yet, after less than a year out of power, the right are coming within a hairsbreadth of actually inciting assassination.
Look, let's be honest. Obama is a black guy and there are enough unreconstructed racists in the USA that there was always a chance that one of them would take a shot at him. The Secret Service says that threats to the president have quadrupled since Obama took office. The right would have us believe that's just because normal Americans are angry at the president for, well, something (they seem unable to decide what their complaint is) and you can guarantee that, if some nut takes a shot at Obama, they'll do the same dance of deniability: A brief, insincere denunciation of the violence and then straight back to hatred and near-enough justification of that same violence. The same way they did with Scott Roder. The same way they did with the Town Hall lunatics. Since this president took office, they have stopped at nothing to paint him as illegitimate, dangerous, even alien. They've done everything but outright say that, since the president is such a monster, you might as well take a shot at him.
Oh, I know I'm not supposed to say that. You're not supposed to talk about the distinct possibility that some maniac will absorb the violent rhetoric tacitly encouraged by the right and act upon it. But the rhetoric is there and it is violent (Sean Hannity's site a while back had a survey asking it's readers what kind of revolution they'd prefer). And there is a distinct possibility that someone will act upon it. The Secret Service are dedicated to their jobs but they're only human and it only takes a moment for a maniac to get lucky. And if he does, the right will soothe themselves with the thought that the left would have been just as bad to Bush.
I'm not sure what can be done about this. The yappers like Beck and Limbaugh have already made a big noise about their First Amendment rights and you can be certain that if anyone even asks them quietly to dial it back, they'll ramp it up even further. And the 20% crowd will follow them right over that cliff. Just... notice how extreme, how violent the rhetoric has become and realise that these people cannot be negotiated or compromised with. As far as they are concerned, the proper order of the universe is to have Republicans, white Republicans (not all of the criticism is racial but the racial factor is certainly adding heat to it) in charge of everything. Anything else is abomination and must be brought to an end by any means necessary. And I mean any means, the word is an absolute here. If the worst happens, the yappers will make a pretence of their sorrow... and then they'll be straight back to attacking with exactly the same tactics, exactly the same vitriol and the 20%, their followers will quietly toast the shooter with beer. The right these days loves to talk about having a fifth column of communists in the Whitehouse. That's crap, naturally, but it occurs that you may have a literal fifth column of would-be domestic terrorists and a much larger faction that would apologise and cover for them.