Friday, June 18, 2004

The hate these days

Why, who should descend from Olympus to mingle with the common folk the other day but Tucker Carlson, (or "that smug little homunculus," as my friend Charles calls him) who held forth on various topics in a Washington Post chat (also carried as an item at Romenesko's Media News). Of particular note was this exchange:
Albany, N.Y.: I recall reading not long ago that, as a joke, you gave out the number of the Fox news channel's Washington bureau, claiming that it was your own, and that in retaliation the Fox people posted your real home phone number. I also read that as a result of the Fox posting, your wife and children got threatening and obscene phone calls. Is this true? If so, doesn't it bother you that the people who did this have the same views and values that you have? If so, how can you possibly align yourself with such people?

Tucker Carlson: There are haters and morons on both sides, as you know. (In the case of Fox viewers, my impression was that most of them were drunk. No surprise there.)I must say, though, that most of the hate I run across these days seems to be coming from the left. Check out some time if you don't believe me.

Well, I rushed over to the Web site to take a gander at all this hate.

And, well ... you can judge for yourselves.

First there was the drive to "Protect Our Votes - Insist on a Paper Ballot." This is based on suspicions that touch-screen voting is vulnerable to being rigged. Not much hate there. A little paranoia, perhaps, but it's relatively reason-based paranoia.

Next there was "The Movie the White House Doesn't Want You to See." This part of MoveOn's effort to spur a discussion about global warming, based on the bad sci-fi flick The Day After Tomorrow. A bad idea -- this film is not the place to kick off a reasoned discussion of the subject -- but nothing particularly hateful.

Next one had some promise: "Fire Rumsfeld: View our new TV ad." Except that Rumsfeld probably should be fired, because his culpablity in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal mounts daily. That isn't hate. That's common sense.

Then we had the petition to "Censure Bush for Misleading Us." Again, the campaign is partisan and charged, but there is no abusive or demeaning language, and the issues are all based on facts, not on such emotional claims as the illegitimacy of his presidency or his corruption.

Then, if you go to the page for MoveOn's book, 50 Ways to Love Your Country, you get more of a rundown of their style. It's largely about empowering liberals. There's no smack talk about conservatives, no demonizing them, no insistence that they represent all of the nation's ills. It's not about tearing others down. It's about building your own base.

I happen to have a little experience with "hate." Especially after years of dealing with "hate groups" and "hate crimes." "Hate" is one of the most abused terms in the modern lexicon, because it can mean so many things. But in the contexts in which I've dealt with it, I've managed over the years to distill a certain essence of "hate" as we know it in the context of such groups and such crimes. It enables me to spot real hate when I see it.

Real hate, in the end, is about excluding, demonizing, and eliminating the Other. It finds its voice in sneering denigration and threats, focusing especially on depicting the Other as a disease or vermin or a source of betrayal, a threat in need of extirpation.

Maybe Tucker knows of some pages tucked away on the MoveOn site that I don't know about. But I could find no evidence of "hate" -- left-wing or otherwise.

Now, I wonder how Carlson would categorize the following material:

Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism

Deliver Us From Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism and Liberalism

The Enemy Within: Saving America from the Liberal Assault on Our Schools, Faith and Military

Of course, Michael Savage should get his own section:
Right now, even people sitting on the fence would like George Bush to drop a nuclear weapon on an Arab country. They don't even care which one it would be. I can guarantee you -- I don't need to go to Mr. Schmuck [pollster John] Zogby and ask him his opinion. I don't need anyone's opinion. I'll give you my opinion, because I got a better stethoscope than those fools. It's one man's opinion based upon my own analysis. The most -- I tell you right now -- the largest percentage of Americans would like to see a nuclear weapon dropped on a major Arab capital. They don't even care which one. They'd like an indiscriminate use of a nuclear weapon.

In fact, Christianity has been one of the great salvations on planet Earth. It's what's necessary in the Middle East. Others have written about it, I think these people need to be forcibly converted to Christianity but I'll get here a little later, I'll move up to that. It's the only thing that can probably turn them into human beings. ... Because these primitives can only be treated in one way, and I don't think smallpox and a blanket is good enough incidentally. Just before -- I'm going to give you a little precursor to where I'm going. Smallpox in a blanket, which the U.S. Army gave to the Cherokee Indians on their long march to the West, was nothing compared to what I'd like to see done to these people, just so you understand that I'm not going to be too intellectual about my analysis here in terms of what I would recommend, what Doc Savage recommends as an antidote to this kind of poison coming out of the Middle East from these non-humans.

[May 12 broadcast]

"Well there's a big difference between fighting for civil rights, and fighting for homosexual marriage, you moron. It's a big difference for fighting for the equality of all men, despite their race, and fighting for perversion, you idiot! You think people are stupid?"
-- [June 10 broadcast]

And how about Rush Limbaugh? He's supposed to be "mainstream", right, Howie? Here are some recent remarks, courtesy of David Brock's Media Matters:
I'm going to tell you is what's good for Al Qaeda is good for the Democratic Party in this country today. That's how you boil this down. And it doesn't have to be Al Qaeda. What's good for terrorists is good for John Kerry. All you got to do is check the way they react. [3/15/04]

25) So the only real question is, if Al Qaeda's active and capable, what are they going to do? Because we know what they want: they want Kerry, they want the Democrats in power. They'd love that -- I mean, based simply on what they're saying and how they're reacting to what happened in Spain. I'm not guessing. [3/15/04]

26) They [Democrats] celebrate privately this attack in Spain. [3/16/04]

27) I mean, if you wonder -- if you want the terrorists running the show, then you will elect John Kerry, who is a bed brother with this guy who just won election in Spain. [3/18/04]

28) I'm telling you, we're in the midst of a huge liberal crackup. They are so motivated by the quest for power. They are so motivated by rage and hatred, that they are not in power. And they focus that on Bush. That they have aligned themselves unwittingly -- I'm going to grant them that -- with those who intend harm on this country. [3/24/04]

29) You don't hear the Democrats being critical of terrorists. In fact, you hear the Democrats saying, "We've got to find a way to get along with them." [4/5/04]

33) [Speaking about Democrats] I don't know who they are, I don't know what they believe, but I can't relate. I can't possibly understand somebody who hates this country, who was born and raised here. I don't understand how you hate this Constitution. I don't understand how you hate freedom. I don't understand how you hate free markets, but that's who elites are, because freedom and free markets challenge their power. It's the only thing I can come up with. I know it's much more insidious and hideous than that, but I still can't relate to it. [3/16/04]

Then there are other supposedly mainstream voices:
The young Kerry seems to have fallen in the latter category, communist apologist. ... John Kerry deserves to make atonement to the Vietnamese people -- not for what he did as a young soldier but for what he has done ever since to justify communist tyranny in Vietnam and elsewhere.
-- Linda Chavez

Miller is not alone, though some are more sanguine when it comes to evaluating the roster of contenders. Here's a note I got recently from a friend and former Delta Force member, who has been observing American politics from the trenches: "These bastards like Clark and Kerry and that incipient ass, Dean, and Gephardt and Kucinich and that absolute mental midget Sharpton, race baiter, should all be lined up and shot."
-- [Kathleen Parker]

If the Democrats win the Presidency, they can veto Republican advances. If they lose, they don't eat. The very sinews of their political power will decay with increasing speed. The Democratic coalition will be weaker, shorter, and poorer in 2008 than 2004. This sense of desperation explains the "hatred" and vicious attacks on Bush.

This should not surprise us. Expect the crescendo to grow through 2004. The other team isn't being unreasonable. It is reacting rationally to a real threat to its ability to function. Anything short of placing snipers on the rooftops of D.C. would be an underreaction by the Left.

Cornered rats fight. Hard.
-- [Grover Norquist]

I am absolutely convinced that God is far from finished with the story of the United States of America. ... First of all, [there's] the matter of the little battle that must be fought, just as it was in the 19th century." There were, and are, "two incompatible moral visions for this country. We had to settle it then. We're going to have to settle it now. I hope not with blood, not with guns, but we're going to have to settle it nonetheless. The good news is that I think our side is finally ready to settle it. Roll up its sleeves, take off its jacket, and get a little bloody. Spill a little blood. We'll settle it. And we'll win. And then there's no holding us back.
-- [Rabbi Daniel Lapin]

And then there's the blogosphere:
I don't really consider the Democrat party a party of the people anymore, nor do I consider the socialist Democrats (they are not "liberal", that's just a euphemism for socialist anymore) "nice people who are misguided." I consider them to be pure, raw evil, who want to destroy everything rational or beautiful in sight: success, prosperity, even the very security of the country.
-- [Amber Pawlik]

Not saying anything in specific, mind you, but we'd be damn careful about showing our face in public if we were you. You just never know who that perfect stranger behind you in that alleyway might be. Could be a sibling or other relative of one of the fallen soldiers that you just took a dump on the grave of, and G-d only knows what might happen then.

Eric may not be famous enough to be a pick for the 2004 Dead Pool, but there's another signed Imperial Mug for the first LC to inform me that Eric Blumrich has died in a "tragic" accident.

Accidents DO happen, you know, and that's the kind of news that would definitely make my entire day.
--[Emperor Misha]

These are all the more civilized remarks. Meanwhile, on the street level, things are not so civilized. In an Oregon coffee shop, a woman is treated to the following diatribe:
"I hate all you f*ing Democrats. You f*ng deserve to be die. Hopefully we can kill the f*ing bunch of you soon..."

And liberals regularly are treated to lovely responses from the pro-war right as well:
Fuckin Leftist traitors break the law and think they should get away with it?! FUCK YOU YA GODDAMN LEFTIST PUKES AND DON'T EVEN THINK OF FUCKING WITH FREE REPUBLIC MOTHERFUCKERS!


... If I see you or any of your comrades from Dem Underground I will kick the living shit out of you you filthy faggotcunt traitor


This was all well after the war began. Before we invaded Iraq, it was a common occurrence to read letters about "doing away with" Democrats, "Go back to France," and read fantasies about assaulting antiwar protesters.

Of course, the threats haven't been relegated merely to ordinary citizens and protesters. Objects of right-wing ire -- for instance, 9/11 commissioner Jamie Gorelick -- are also targeted:
"I can confirm that I've received threats at my office and my home," she told CNN on Saturday. "I did get a bomb threat to my home."

She added, "I have gotten a lot of very vile e-mails. The bomb threat was by phone."

Well, maybe I'm just being paranoid or shrill or some other thing that makes me easy to dismiss. But all of the above is what I think of when I think of "hate": the denigration, the venom, the demonization, the threats, the announced desire to eliminate.

And it isn't hard to see which side of the aisle it's coming from.

But then, maybe if I wore a bowtie, I'd see it differently.

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