Friday, October 22, 2010

Sean Hannity's eliminationist humor: 'If we get rid of liberals, we solve our problems'

-- by Dave

Oh, that Sean Hannity is just sooooo funny. Last night on his Fox New show, he had the following "humorous" exchange with fake Democratic pollster Doug Schoen:

Hannity: My mind needs to be free so I can think about attacking liberals.

Schoen: You know what, we need to stop attacking and just try to come together.

Hannity: No, I want to attack liberals.

Schoen: Well, I want to solve problems.

Hannity: Well, by defeating liberalism we solve our problems, Doug.

Schoen: If we all work together, we solve our problems.

Hannity: If we get rid of liberals, we solve our problems.

Schoen: Well, most of them are going to lose this time anyway.

OK, we get it. Hannity's being funny. Because, you know, it would be funny to get rid of all the liberals.

Recall what I wrote in the Introduction to The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right:

Eliminationism is often voiced as crude "jokes," a sense of humor inevitably predicated on venomous hatred. And such rhetoric—we know as surely as we know that night follows day—eventually begets action, with inevitably tragic results.


The problem with eliminationism isn’t that it is simply unpleasant or ugly or even uncomfortable discourse, which is what can often be said of the Left’s frequently charged rhetoric. The problem, as we already noted, is that it implies the death of discourse, as well as its dissolution into violence and the use of force.

And what the eliminationists call jokes aren’t. The humor in their statements—whatever might be funny about them—is entirely contingent on their listeners’ underlying attitude about their fellow Americans, an attitude that not only demonizes them but also reduces them to subhuman level, prime targets for violent elimination. Jokes shouldn’t have a concrete real-world effect and these do: at some point members of their audience (particularly the more hate-filled and mentally unstable types) will act on them.


The eliminationist project is in many ways the signature of fascism, partly because it proceeds naturally from fascism's embrace of what Oxford Brookes scholar Roger Griffin calls palingenesis, or a Phoenix-like national rebirth, as its core myth. The Nazi example clearly demonstrates how eliminationist rhetoric has consistently preceded, and heralded, the eventual assumption of the eliminationist project; indeed, such rhetoric has played a critical role in giving permission for it to proceed, by creating the cultural and psychological conditions that enable the subsequent violence.

Of course, Hannity can't be held responsible if some nut decides that it's not just a joke and that it would be a good idea to get rid of all the liberals, and acts accordingly. Because, you know, that's just a nut. Who doesn't know how to take a joke.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

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