Two caveats first:
- To be clear, what I'm posting here isn't run past my fellow bloggers -- and it's put up in the few hours I have while taking care of newborn twins, so I may be a bit incoherent from sleep deprivation.
- Second, there continue to be wonderful moderate Republicans in this country -- though fewer and fewer of them are getting elected to office.
OK, on with the screed: This weekend's assassination attempt, one in a chain of violent extremist acts of terrorist by the radical right, has been seen as a political football. Somehow it is in poor taste to point out that the right wing has been carrying out multiple acts of terror in the last two years.
Politics is not Football. It's not baseball, either, or any other competitive sport. "Left" and "Right" are not two equal teams who happen to wear different jerseys and have different mascots.
The new American myth of bipartisanship, however, says that to be 'fair,' we have to pretend that there is no difference between our political parties, and no difference between the political left and the political right. This is at best mush-mouth, brainless hooey. At worst, it is deeply cynical and anti-democratic, imagining that elected officials are in office only for their own selfish desire for power or prestige or free healthcare.
People on the Left and the Right understand politics, nationalism, rights, freedoms, and community in very different ways.
This is important to acknowledge because Republican Party is being taken over by right-wing extremists, under the broad, camo umbrella of the Tea Party -- elected officials, party officials, as well as ordinary registered Republicans. (Not everyone, no. See caveat #2 above. )
Many of these extremists believe that individuals have the right to use violence against the government. Elected sheriffs who fantasize about shooting IRS agents. The extreme Right believes that the federal government is inherently oppressive, that gun control is a form of tyranny.
Are there wacked-out Leftists who use violence? Yes. My brother was held hostage for a year by Marxist guerrillas, so don't lecture me on the violence of the Left. But the fact is, in this country most the internal terrorism that we have seen, from Oklahoma City onwards, has been fueled by the political philosophy of the extreme Right.
While Jared Loughner may be unstable or seriously mentally ill, his crazed ramblings o (verlap with those of the Tea Party (except, I suppose, for his belief that the rules of grammar are a form of governmental mind control). We see in Jared a horrific caricature of the 'logical' conclusion of many of this nation's extreme right-wing politicians.
Did Palin cause Loughner to carry out this assassination? No. But Loughner's actions help us see more clearly the dangers of the violent anti-government rants that have become de rigeur for many right-wing politicians.
The Republican Party has in recent years seemed perfectly willing to sell out to this extremist movement; from local Republican headquarters to elected governors and congresspeople, the Republican Party is increasingly filled with members who believe that government is a beast which should be slaughtered, that Muslims are de facto terrorists, that academics cannot be trusted, that white people are being oppressed, and that armed insurrection is a viable alternative.
There is hope, I suppose. When GOP candidate Stephen Broden said that he wouldn't rule out violent overthrow of the government, if elections didn't move the country to the Right, other party officials condemned his statements. But by that point, he was already the GOP's nominee for Congress.
Unless the GOP makes concrete steps to distance itself from the radical Right, I fear that the multiple right-wing acts of terrorism will only grow more bold and bloody.