MoveOn just posted a hand wringing, rally ’round the flag petition decrying “the hate and threats of violence directed at members of Congress,” which apparently have “been part of the Republican-supported tea parties since the beginning.” Now VDH:
All this concern is a day late and a dollar short… write a book in which you muse about killing George Bush, and its Knopf imprint proves it is merely sophisticated literary speculation; do a docudrama about killing George Bush, and it will win a Toronto film prize for its artistic value… Between 2001 and 2008, the “progressive” community redefined what is acceptable and not acceptable in political and public discourse about their elected officials. Slurs like “Nazi” and “fascist” and “I hate” were… elevated to high-society novels, films, political journalism, and vein-bulging outbursts of our elites… So here we are with the age-old problem that once one destroys decorum for the sake of short-term expediency, it is very hard to restore it in any credible fashion on grounds of principle when the proverbial shoe is on the other foot.
And yet my Twitter feed and Facebook wall are alight with leftist histrionics, many of a volume and pitch not seen since Ann Coulter was doing her last book tour. I’m half-expecting liberals to start coloring their profile pictures blue in solidarity with besieged Democratic politicians. Then they’d have blue avatars, and you know how much these left-wing tools love blue avatars. Almost as much as they love ironic puns.
Anyway – and by all means – let’s restore decorum to politics. Things are certainly getting a little overheated out there. But let’s not be under any illusions regarding who eroded the boundaries of acceptable public discourse. It wasn’t the side that criticized nutjobs for penning Bush/Cheney assassination porn. It was the side that screamed “McCarthyism” at those critics. The left’s project of rewriting history – and of erasing a decade of unhinged liberalism – stretches at least as far back as Gibbs’s Bambi routine last November. “Imagine just a few years ago had somebody walked around with images of Hitler.” Seriously. Can you imagine?
You really have to wonder what’s underneath all these cries of innocence. Are they just being disingenuous? Or do they actually not remember the feverish fantasies of insane revenge that animated the left starting around mid-2003? And if they don’t remember, is it because they relied on a cocooned and cocooning media that left them ignorant? Or did they not see anything overly untoward in all those “Kill Bush” signs, so they just don’t remember things being that bad?
In any case I think I’ve compiled a full list of the newest round of outrageously outraged action alerts, plus why you’d have to be exceptionally nuanced to insist that they’re right-wing innovations. I’m sure Mere Rhetoric’s merry pair of Twitter trolls will correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve got a good feeling about its comprehensiveness. I stole the list from the Facebook page of one of my academic colleagues, and he seemed very heartfelt. Very heartfelt. So if there was anything else out there I’m sure he would’ve included it.
Before we get started I want to emphasize again that none of this is a justification for similar behavior on the right. Like conspiracy rhetoric – another place where the right had uprooted pernicious thinking root and branch, until the left reintroduced it after 9/11 – it has no place in civilized debate. But simply pretending that populist excess came out of nowhere won’t help rebuild public deliberation. You have to diagnose the disease before you can cure it, and part of that requires helping the left snap out of its self-serving revisionism. Consider this my contribution to the concern trolling genre:
* Racial slurs against African-Americans – yeah, listen. Photoshopping blackface on conservative African-Americans is a venerated and long-standing tradition on the left. Being a black conservative radio host makes you a “Sambo” and “Uncle Tom.” Racial attacks against conservative blacks happen on university campuses. I’m genuinely surprised liberals would try to pin the blame for contemporary politicized racism on conservatives, at least in a world where Google still exists. It’s like blaming Republicans for Democratic governor George Wallace. Which liberals also do.
* Homophobic outbursts – like the thing with racial slurs, if I was a liberal I would simply assume that at some point someone very high up in Democratic circles or a bunch of people very low in the nutroots swamp had mainstreamed a vulgar anti-conservative smear. Because – with homophobic slams as with everything else – it’s true. My favorite anecdote from this post is liberal hero Joe Wilson defending his douchebag womanizing with the throwaway “unlike Ken Mehlman and David Dreier, I really like women.” ZING! But make sure you also catch how Eric Alterman – who really couldn’t be more outraged about the state of public deliberation this morning – approaches dialogue with gay opponents.
* Coffins left on politicians’ lawns – a bold locus for outrage, coming as it does from a political community where protesters force soldiers to walk by fake coffins on their way into and out of vet hospitals.
* Rush Limbaugh’s exhortation to “defeat these bastards… wipe them out… chase them out of town.” – anyone remember this by turns thuggish and pathetic screed from Kos himself?
We have an imperative to take advantage of a historic opportunity to break the conservative movement’s backs and crush their spirits… In the House, that means annihilating the Republican caucus… we want them broken, their ranks thinned, their treasury in heavy debt, their morale in the gutter, void of any leadership, discredited in the eyes of the public… A key component of this effort is to destroy their most beloved leaders… You want to see them truly crushed, you need to help.
* Destruction of private property – you’ve got to be kidding.
The specifics aside, I’d have a lot more sympathy for apoplectic liberals if they weren’t so very brashly thuggish so very often, like a band of resentful but apprehensive high school kids who suddenly find themselves in a like-minded crowd. Or if they hadn’t spent the election yucking it up over Sarah Palin effigies. Or if there weren’t multiple websites devoted to Ann Coulter rape fantasies. Or if the rape of conservative women wasn’t actually a full-blown comedic trope on the left. Or if they hadn”t elevated Cheney’s death to a religious supplication. And so on. And so on.
* Republican Leaders: Condemn the hate [MoveOn]
* More Bottled Piety [Victor Davis Hanson / NRO Corner]
* MSM Photojournalists Can’t Get Over Palestinians Dressed Up As Avatar Na’vi [Mere Rhetoric]
* Liberals Unhinged [Mere Rhetoric]
* Gibbs: Can you imagine if, five years ago, protesters had compared our government to Hitler? [Hot Air]
* Death Threats Against Bush at Protests Ignored for Years [ZomBlog]
* Assassination chic [Malkin]
* "DEATH OF A PRESIDENT" UPDATE [Byron York / NRO Corner]
* Liberal Media Didn’t Care About Protest Signs Threatening Bush’s life. So Why do they care only for Obama? [SodaHead]
* THE VILE BILE WE HAVE TO PUT UP WITH [Malkin]
* Blackface Beyond the Pale [Gillespie / Reason.com]
* Democrats: Racism OK For Liberals Opposing Conservatives [Captain's Quarters]
* There’s Liberal Racism Too [Navarrette / RCP]
* Black Minuteman Assaulted By Columbia University Mob [Southern Herald]
* George Wallace’s party? [Economist]
* Liberals and Their Invisible Homophobia [Advocate.com]
* CODE PINK or SOLDIERS: Who would you rather have defend America ? [SodaHead]
* Kos: We Must Crush Their Spirits [Ace]
* Figures: AIG Forced To Issue “How To Avoid Lynch Mobs” Memo [Mere Rhetoric]
* Democrats Get Their Wish: Children of AIG Employees Threatened [IUSB]
* Some Bush supporters say they fear for their property. [Kurtz / NRO Corner]
* Polls Being Manipulated Through Statistical Methods, Death Threats (Plus: Obama Supporters Wallowing In Anti-Palin Murder Fantasies, Shooting At Conservatives) [Mere Rhetoric]
* Pro-Obama Comedian Jokes About Black Men Gang-Raping Palin, Liberal Outrage Fails To Ensue (Plus: Brief Review Of Other Conservatives Whom Progressives Would Like To See Get Raped) (UPDATE: Nuance Invoked, Video Added) [Mere Rhetoric]
* The Ugly Left – Sarcastically Praying For the Vice President’s Health Edition [Mere Rhetoric]
* Meet Jeri Thompson, the Powerful Republican Consultant That Grassroots Liberals Will Be Attacking As A Bimbo [Mere Rhetoric]
* The Ugly Left – Failed Singer Reunites With Harvard Brat, Threatens To Kill President Bush. Ms. Coulter Responds [Video] [Mere Rhetoric]