Wednesday, March 02, 2005

What, me divisive?

Update on the eliminationism front:

Ed Schultz was teeing off on Air America today regarding U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons' recent remarks concerning liberals who opposed the invasion of Iraq.

Nevada Democrats are decrying remarks Gibbons made at a Lincoln Day dinner in Elko, apparently warming up the faithful by doing a little liberal-bashing -- and suggesting we start shipping them off to Iraq to serve as "human shields":
While praising the efforts of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gibbons accused liberals, movie stars and song makers of "trying to divide this country."

"I say we tell those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and their music and whine somewhere else," he told the crowd, according to the Elko Daily Free Press.

He then said it was "too damn bad we didn't buy them a ticket" to become human shields in Iraq.

His comments came a week after he apologized for calling those who oppose corporate donations for President Bush's inaugural parties "communists."

We also get a view of why liberals have earned his wrath:
Gibbons, a combat pilot veteran of the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, said "Hollywood established a climate that made our returning troops feel ostracized" during the Vietnam War.

"I see similar actions on the part of some members of the entertainment community today," he said. "Today, such efforts to break our resolve in Iraq are also used to inspire the insurgents to continue their assault."

Ah, yes. Liberals are on the side of the enemy, trying to break our resolve. We've heard that particular tune a lot the past few years, dating back at least to Ann Coulter's and Sean Hannity's books equating liberalism with traitors and terrorists. (This, despite the converse being historically true of conservatives, including many of those currently in power.)

But it's obviously picking up volume on the right now. Witness especially David Horowitz's absurd graphics connecting Micheal Moore to Osama bin Laden (ably limned recently by Michael Bérubé).

Who exactly is trying to divide our country here?

It's also worth noting that Gibbons isn't just some Republican loose cannon. He was in line to take over for Porter Goss as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (he was passed over for Peter Hoekstra) and chaired one of its subcommittees, and he's vice chair of the House Resources Committee.

Well, I've remarked previously about talk of eliminating liberals:
Perhaps I'm more sensitive to this kind of rhetoric than most, because I've been exposed to it for a long time. It is hardly different in nature from the kind of hate regularly spewed by the cross-burners at Aryan Nations, who of course hate mainstream liberals right alongside Jews, blacks, and every other permutation of their Other. One bleeds into the other for them -- and eventually, it does likewise for everyone else who partakes of this kind of talk. There is a special quality to eliminationist rhetoric, and it has the distinctive stench of burning flesh -- no matter where it emanates from.

If I thought for a moment that talk about committing violence against conservatives were as pervasive, especially in the public square, as it currently is against liberals, I do not doubt that I would do my best to attack it. But I almost never hear it from that sector now. For the past twenty or more years, I've been hearing it from the far right. And it deeply disturbs me when I begin hearing it from people who supposedly operate within the mainstream.

Of course, Gibbons will neither apologize nor back off the remarks. (Somehow, I'll wager, it will be all the fault of those nasty liberals, and produce another round of hand-wringing by Nick Kristof and Howard Kurtz about the decline of civility in our discourse.) Republican pundits and bloggers will flock to his defense. And the descent into the abyss will advance another notch.

But this will be noteworthy, marking by the day that eliminationist rhetoric became officially sanctioned.

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