David Frum spoke out this weekend about the reckless direction America's right-wing talk-show hosts are taking our national discourse -- embodied by the nuts bringing guns to events featuring President Obama:
Nobody has been hurt so far. We can all hope that nobody will be. But firearms and politics never mix well. They mix especially badly with a third ingredient: the increasingly angry tone of incitement being heard from right-of-center broadcasters.
The Nazi comparisons from Rush Limbaugh; broadcaster Mark Levin asserting that President Obama is "literally at war with the American people"; former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin claiming that the president was planning "death panels" to extirpate the aged and disabled; the charges that the president is a fascist, a socialist, a Marxist, an illegitimate Kenyan fraud, that he "harbors a deep resentment of America," that he feels a "deep-seated hatred of white people," that his government is preparing concentration camps, that it is operating snitch lines, that it is planning to wipe away American liberties": All this hysterical and provocative talk invites, incites, and prepares a prefabricated justification for violence.
And indeed some conservative broadcasters are lovingly anticipating just such an outcome.
Frum notes that conservatives were quick to attack a Homeland Security bulletin warning law-enforcement officers of a looming threat from right-wing extremists -- only to have those warnings come all too true:
Newt Gingrich tweeted: "The person who drafted the outrageous homeland security memo smearing veterans and conservatives should be fired."
I don't think the former speaker could tweet such a thing today in good conscience. The person who drafted that homeland security memo has gained very good reason to be worried. The guns are coming out. The risks are real.
It's not enough for conservatives to repudiate violence, as some are belatedly beginning to do. We have to tone down the militant and accusatory rhetoric. If Barack Obama really were a fascist, really were a Nazi, really did plan death panels to kill the old and infirm, really did contemplate overthrowing the American constitutional republic—if he were those things, somebody should shoot him.
Frum was on CNN's Reliable Sources this Sunday and talked about it with Howard Kurtz:
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Um, just before I came out here, David Frum, I read a column that you wrote for The Week magazine about people who bring guns to these town meetings or Obama events. And you really took on some on the right, on your side, so to speak -- Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity -- you talked about hysterical talk about violence, you said that we have to tone it down, we have to tone down, excuse me, "the militant and accusatory rhetoric."
DAVID FRUM: Ah, we do. We do. Because --
KURTZ: Is it fair to blame the broadcasters for this atmosphere?
FRUM: Uh, yeah, it's very -- coping with a downward trend in advertising revenues for talk radio, the broadcasters have ramped up what they are saying. When you have broadcasters saying the president is, quote, literally at war with the American people, um -- literally at war is a very serious thing, Al Qaeda is literally at war with the American people.
KURTZ: And has a deep-seated hatred for white people.
FRUM: And has a deep-seated hatred -- so it's inflammatory. And the thing that is so enraging about all this, is obviously people are getting more excited about that, than they do about the details of health insurance.
Interestingly, Kurtz a little later discusses Fox's flaming hypocrisy in backing anti-Obama protesters when previously it had dismissed anti-war protesters as "loons", something they were called out for by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show:
KURTZ: [H]asn't Fox, in fact, flipped -- some Fox hosts, I should say -- from slamming liberal protesters to defending these anti-Obama protesters?
That, in fact, is part of the bigger picture: The teabaggers are being inflamed and openly encouraged to act irrationally and disruptively by Fox News and its right-wing radio cohorts, specifically because they know that no matter how crazy they act -- even bringing guns to events featuring the president -- they will be actively defended for it, instead of exposed for the thugs they are.
Transcript below the fold: