Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Thugs in suits

[Republicans deal with protesters at a 2004 Bush rally in Colmar, Pa.]

Pay attention, kids: The problem with eliminationist rhetoric isn't just the viciousness of the people speaking it. The real problem is the people listening.

It starts out as just talk -- demonization and dehumanization, which leads to disposability, and finally a wish to eliminate, including a predisposition to violence at every step. Pretty soon it's a widespread attitude. And then, eventually, people start acting on those attitudes.

Mike Stark's assault by George Allen staffers is another indicator of the progression along this track being taken by conservatives as they see their power base threatened. More details here.

It's noteworthy this happened amid a campaign run by a sitting U.S. senator who told campaign audiences that "We are going to kick the liberals' soft teeth down their throats".

Of course, we've known for some time that Republicans increasingly see campaign events by their candidates as closed events for True Believers Only, and Others (aka The Enemy) may be ejected by any means necessary. Certainly that was the case at Bush events in 2004, and this approach to campaigning has clearly broadened and deepened in 2006.

But it isn't just campaign events anymore. What seems to upset right-wing officeholders the most is when anyone attempts to hold them accountable.

That's why Marilyn Musgrave tried to have Michael Schiavo arrested merely for showing up at a public debate.

It's why Melissa Hart ordered the arrests of a group of elderly protesters who came to her office.

Howie Klein wonders what's up with this. It's more of the same, really, but with greater intensity. Now we have the added element of supporters believing they can now take these matters into their hands, violently.

You can see how it plays out in the video of Musgrave critics trying to get Musgrave to answer their questions. Not only does Musgrave ignore them as her entourage shoves the questioners out of the way; but at the end, some of her supporters confront the questioners and physically intimidate them by shoving them and grabbing their mike.

What's fueling all this is the unrelenting talk on the right blaming liberals for the growing public awareness of their own governmental malfeasance -- and countering with nothing less than unadulterated hatred.

This is how eliminationism has always worked in this country: First we talk about taking out "the enemy". Then we begin doing it.

More on all that soon.

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