Well, let’s face it… it doesn’t help.
Joan Walsh at Salon ponders the point. Read the whole thing. It’s a thoughtful, careful piece and well worth your time.
The range of crazy ideas about Obama is broad and wide: He’s a secret Muslim, he’s going to take our guns, he’s even the anti-Christ! James von Brunn just happened to be a “birther,” one of the nuts who believe that Obama wasn’t born here, his birth certificate is fake, and he thus isn’t eligible to be president. I thought it was strange and maybe a little ominous last summer when suddenly Obama was labeled a “socialist” and a “Marxist”; Hillary Clinton and John Kerry are arguably more liberal than Obama; why did he get tagged with that sinister, subversive, alien ideology? It seemed linked to the fact that he’s just so … different from other politicians, so easy to marginalize and, frankly, demonize.
Then came Rush Limbaugh with his sexual fears about having to “bend over and grab the ankles” for a black president. Soon Limbaugh was saying he hoped Obama fails; last week he said Obama was more dangerous to our country than al-Qaida, our terrorist enemy who has killed thousands of Americans. Could that conceivably inflame someone marginal and isolated to act against a president who’s more dangerous than terrorists?
I was unbelievably thrilled when Obama won. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that these emotions were mixed. Given the heated primary and the nasty Palin/McCain rallies, I’d somehow let my attention drift from the knot in my stomach to savoring a historic victory. The knot’s returned (actually, it never left), and is probably why the DHS report hit every nerve I possessed. After all, it made sense. And while I don’t want to debate the merits of the report, it’s meaning was clear.
And it’s the meaning that fuels my worst nightmares. Parsing the report doesn’t change the truth. We all knew what they were saying. And they were right. The hate talk, imo, is out of control… and escalating – and we all know where it’s heading and who it’s targeting. Honestly, I have never heard such talk in the mainstream. And that’s what’s bothering me – the ease with which killing people is discussed and accepted. Here’s another example…
Colmes: …you then said, I asked for whom else are you praying in that fashion and you said President Obama. Are you praying for his death?
Colmes: So you’re praying for the death of the president of the United States?
Colmes: Are you concerned that by saying that you might find yourself on some secret service call or FBI most wanted list. Do you think it’s appropriate to say something like that or even pray for something like that?
Drake: I think it’s appropriate to pray for the will of God. I’m not saying anything, what I’m doing is repeating what God is saying, if that puts me on somebodies list then I’ll just have to be on their list.
Colmes: You would like for the president of the United States to die?
Drake: If he does not turn to God and does not turn his life around I am asking God to enforce in imprecatory prayers throughout the scripture that would cause him death, that’s correct.
Wonder how many lone wolves are listening and taking notes.
So here’s my question… while I don’t advocate censoring free speech, do we have a responsibility to counter it – Loudly and forcibly? Isn’t that free speech as well?
Update: Eugene Robinson’s article today is a must read.
What we don’t know is whether all the blast-furnace rhetoric coming from the right is giving validation and encouragement to some confused, angry man or woman with a rifle or a truck full of fertilizer — the next “lone wolf,” preparing to howl.
If you’re still here, you’re not reading Robinson’s article!
Update: Steve Newton notes that “the conservative evangelical leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Johnny Hunt, immediately called him out in public.” Much, much more of this, please.