Thursday, April 8, 2010

Killing Me Softly

The title of this post comes with apologies to lyricist Norman Gimbel and composer Charles Fox. It is not about a song made popular by Roberta Flack.

Rather, this post relates to a strange new theme being advanced by our anti-Republican culture: Republicans as killers.

I know. It’s probably going to take some background information to understand this one...

Do you remember Cindy Sheehan? Her son Casey was one of eight service members killed on Palm Sunday (April 4, 2004) during a battle in Sadr City, Iraq.

Mrs. Sheehan could have blamed the insurgents who killed her son. She could have blamed Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the militants. She could have blamed the abstraction of war.

Mrs. Sheehan didn’t choose any of these.

She chose to blame Republicans, and directed her hatred specifically toward President George W. Bush.

A photo of the memorial service for Casey Sheehan and his comrades
by Michael Abrams of Stars and Stripes.

Fast-forward to the present. You are watching last month’s House floor debate on the health care bill.

Representative John Dingell, D-MI, uses his moral authority to cast Republicans as killers. He lectures us on Republicans causing the deaths of people with medical ailments, and chastises his Republican colleagues, saying “Eighteen thousand Americans every day die - uh every year – die for want of health care.” (24:46 in the C-SPAN video)

If 50 Americans are dying from lack of health care every day, Representative Dingell tells us it is because of Republicans. There is no sense of shared responsibility. Republicans are to blame.

This month, we see the “Republicans as killers” theme applied in very specific instances. Sarah Palin finds herself accused of having a violent page in Facebook!

The Huffington Post headlines its report:

“Sarah Palin’s PAC Puts Gun Sights on Democrats She’s Targeting in 2010.”
The article posts a picture of the Arctic Fox using her index fingers as six-shooters, and characterizes her language as “decidedly militant.”

For proof, it quotes the former governor of Alaska as saying “We’ll aim for these races…” and “This is just the first salvo…” and “join me in the fight.”

It might seem lighthearted, but there is an unmistakably dark background message: Sarah Palin wants to kill off Democratic Party congressional candidates.

Combine that with a recent report by Sam Stein of the Huffington Post that characterizes the American Tea Party Movement as filled with violent racists, and you get a sense of the anti-Republican rhetoric that is being ramped up for this year’s elections.

Is characterizing Republicans as “racists” or “homophobes” or “bigots” hate speech? The task of our anti-Republican culture is to acclimatize us to that type of speech so that it seems “right and natural.” However, routinely being labeled a “killer” is going to require a bigger mental adjustment, and brings up a couple of questions:

Why, in America, has it become a kind of national sport to hate Republicans?

When did hatred become “cool”?

UPDATE 12/1/2010:
Power Line has a critique of a post from The Democratic Strategist that characterizes Republicans as being prone to violence and engaging in "Politics as Warfare."  Power Line downplays it, but the rhetoric of the piece is a "call to arms" that should not be dismissed lightly.

UPDATE 8/22/2013:
Thom Hartmann characterizes Republicans as "stone-cold killers."

UPDATE 12/14/2013:
The Denver Post follows up on yesterday's Arapahoe High School shooting incident here in Colorado, providing background on the possible motivation of the student gunman. The "Republicans as killers" theme is apparently taking root:

Pierson also appears to mock Republicans on another Facebook post, writing "you republicans are so cute" and posting an image that reads: "The Republican Party: Health Care: Let 'em Die, Climate Change: Let 'em Die, Gun Violence: Let 'em Die, Women's Rights: Let 'em Die, More War: Let 'em Die. Is this really the side you want to be on?"

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