The Right is slowly making casual talk about violence against 'the Other' acceptable
It's becoming evident that conservatives no longer consider open advocacy of violence against other people anything more than a mild social faux pas, an embarrassing slip of the tongue, if those people happen to be their "enemies" -- liberals, Muslims, immigrants, gays and lesbians, anyone who fits the description of The Other.
That's been made evident in two recent incidents involving violent eliminationist rhetoric from right-wingers in high-profile positions -- cases that, had roles been reversed and the targets instead were Republicans, would have certainly aroused not just the wrath of the right-wing talk machine but numerous "centrists," and the persons who uttered them would have been summarily fired.
The first involved a math teacher in Jefferson County, Alabama, who helped illustrate a geometry problem for his students by having them figure out the shooting angles for assassinating President Obama. Initially, everyone in town, including school officials, were happy to make excuses for him and let him off easy. It wasn't until there was broad national outrage over the story that they wound up giving him a suspension:
Gregory Harrison, the teacher at Corner High School in Jefferson County, Alabama, was to receive a slap on the wrist in the form of a "long conversation" with the local school authorities, after sparking a Secret Service investigation when he discussed possible angles to use in shooting at the president.
But officials only later decided they needed to take tougher action against Harrison following a flood of calls from people outraged at the lenient treatment.
Last week in Houston, a talk show host named Michael Berry -- who at one time was the city's Mayor Pro Tem -- went on his regular show and, during an exchange with a Muslim man named "Tony", declared that if Muslims dare build a mosque in the near vicinity of the World Trade Center site in New York City, then he hopes someone blows it up.
BERRY: No, Tony, you can’t build a mosque at the site of 9/11.
TONY: Why not? Why not?
BERRY: No, you can’t. And I’ll tell you this: If you do build a mosque, I hope somebody blows it up. ... I hope the mosque isn’t built, and if it is, I hope it’s blown up. And I mean that.
Let me tell you something, Tony. It's the right-wing nutjobs that are gonna keep this for people like you from the people that come for ... It’s right-wing radicals like me that are going to keep this country safe for you and everyone else from the people who are flying the planes from the country you fled from. If you want to identify with those people, go live with them.
This, of course, comes only a short while after someone in Florida actually did try to blow up a mosque.
At what point does this become outright incitement?
Berry, predictably, made a typical right-wing "apology":
While I stand by my disagreement of the building of the mosque on the site, I SHOULD NOT have said “I hope someone blows it up.” That was dumb, and beneath me. I was trying to show “Tony” how much I opposed his opinion, but I went too far. For that, I apologize to my listeners.
How about an apology to the Muslims whose lives he wished openly would be ended by a "right-wing nutjob"? Heaven forfend that he would apologize to his actual victims.
Right-wingers like Berry, and Pam Atlas, and Michelle Malkin, and on and on, want everyone to just declare all of Islam our "Enemy" and be done with it. Look at how Berry ranted at "Tony":
But I'll tell you this -- whatever country you came from? If a Christian in the name of Christianity or a Jew in the name of Judaism had dared do what you did, you would issue a fatwa for everyone looked just like 'em! And for a thousand years you wouldn't allow a temple or a Christian church to be built there. And you damned well know it!
You see, in the minds of guys like Michael Berry, all Muslims are guilty of having caused the 9/11 attacks. They're wired to think that way, and nothing, not even reality, will shake them out of it.
This cropped up in Tea Party leader Mark Williams' vicious remarks about Muslims while leading a protest against the WTC mosque:
Mark Williams, chairman of the Tea Party Express, blogged about the 13-story mosque and Islamic cultural center planned at Park Place and Broadway, calling it a monument to the 9/11 terrorists.
"The monument would consist of a Mosque for the worship of the terrorists' monkey-god," Williams, a frequent guest on CNN, wrote on his Web site.
His statements drew a sharp rebuke from City Hall and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Muslim civil rights and advocacy group.
... "It would be shocking if such ignorant comments failed to elicit a strong response not only from Tea Party leaders, but from other parties throughout the political spectrum," said Corey Saylor, the Muslim rights group's national legislative director.
It's not shocking at all -- because there was no such strong response, of course, nor will there be.
For the Right, that's just a "strong opinion." In essence, mainstream conservatives now condone this kind of talk -- because, evidently, they see nothing wrong with it.
One can only imagine what would have happened if someone had said similar things about Catholics or Baptists, or if a liberal geometry teacher had taught students how to shoot President Bush -- the nonstop outrage at Fox, the breathless denunciations on talk radio, the hand-wringing by Beltway Villagers.
Funny how it never seems to work in the other direction, isn't it?