Thursday, July 27, 2006

'Beyond politics'

One of the really offensive aspect of the right-wing drumbeat of eliminationism is that so many of its purveyors -- notably Rush Limbaugh and his many imitators, including Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin -- try to slough off criticism of the nastiness of the things they say and write by pretending that it's just "entertainment," or merely a "joke".

The crude reality, of course, is that the things they say are not only deeply personal, they play out in the real world by poisoning our personal lives as well as our public discourse. Pretending afterward that it was all "just kidding" is palpable disingenuousness.

And the right-wing response -- claiming that liberals are responsible for the poisoning of the public well -- is especially offensive because it not only serves to disguise, but provides a positive justification for, the escalation of this kind of rhetoric into real action.

In upstate New York's Orange County, a left-leaning city councilwoman named Gail Soro is reaping the consequences of this kind of rhetoric:
The bent windshield wipers annoyed her. The sex toy glued to her windshield back in June made her furious. But finding a horse's head in her swimming pool yesterday hit Wawayanda Councilwoman Gail Soro right where she lives.

It left her angry and frightened last night, as state police scoured the Orange County town for suspects. They were treating it as a case of harassment and trespassing, at the very least.

Soro and her husband, Ed, were in the pool until about 8:30 p.m. Monday night. Yesterday morning, they noticed the water looked a bit dark. They thought that an animal might have died in the pool.

Ed Soro grabbed the skimmer, raised a dark object from a corner of the pool and called out to his wife as he dragged it to the surface: "That's a horse's head."

She quickly went back into their house. "I was hysterical," she recalled last night.

As the day went on, her hysterics gave way to anger. The stunt with the windshield wipers and the sex toy both happened at Wawayanda Town Hall, where Soro is the lone Democrat on the five-member Town Board.

But the horse's head was brought to their home, while they slept, where their grandchildren come over to swim.

Soro, to her credit, is not backing down:
Gail Soro sent her own message last night: She won't be chased out of office. She's up for re-election next year, and she's running. Soro's been right in the middle of tussles over growth and planning that are the hot-button issues in the town.

Still, she wondered if her story would discourage others from running for office.

"Who would want to put up with this?" she said.

Republican Councilman Dave Cole acknowledged that he's knocked heads with Soro, but he flatly condemned what was done to her yesterday.

"This isn't politics. This is beyond politics," Cole said. "This is beyond the pale."

Credit Councilman Cole with recognizing that this kind of thuggery has no place in American politics.

Too bad he doesn't also take the time to note that the conservative movement's chief figureheads are the folks most publicly fomenting it.

[Hat tip to Rob.]

UPDATE: Edited to reflect that this Orange County is in New York, not California.

No comments: