The other day on Fox, Bernard Goldberg came to the defense of his buddy Bill O'Reilly -- who's nice enough to keep having him on at Fox without asking him any mean questions about his dumb book's multiple dumb mistakes -- over BillO's indefensible remarks about Helen Thomas. In so doing, he offered up this contribution to the national discourse:
But it's interesting to me that these left-wingers who didn't say a word when their fellow left-wingers called George Bush a moron, when they called Dick Cheney a fascist, when they called Sarah Palin a racist, and when they threw Oreo cookies at Michael Steele because he had the nerve to be a conservative black man -- they didn't say a word about all of that.*
So here's my conservative analysis, and feel free to bleep this: Screw them. Screw them. They are unimportant people, they are unimportant people who shouldn't be taken seriously.
When you made a good-natured joke, I very seriously said that Helen Thomas' 15 minutes were up in the Lincoln administration. And you know what? If they want to take shots at me, and if they want to take shots at you, they need to know one thing: They're throwing spitballs at battleships.
The Go-Cheney-Yourself approach to discourse is no doubt what wins Bernie Goldberg so many fans on the right who snap up his books and hang on his every misbegotten word.
Including, it's quite clear, that fellow who last July walked into that Unitarian church in Knoxville and started shooting: Jim David Adkisson.
The manifesto he composed before his murderous rampage was just released; you can read the whole thing here [pdf file], and it's worth reading in its entirety for a number of reasons. But I especially took note of Part III:
This was a symbolic killing. Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book. I'd like to kill everyone in the mainstream media. But I know those people were inaccessible to me. I couldn't get to the generals & high ranking officers of the Marxist movement so I went after the foot soldiers, the chickenshit liberals that vote in these traitorous people. Someone had to get the ball rolling. I volunteered. I hope others do the same. It's the only way we can rid America of this cancerous pestilence.
That seems to sum up Adkisson's thinking: He wanted to be the spark in a wave of similar fed-up-niks taking their anger out on liberals.
It's also worth looking at the kind of reasoning that led him there:
In a parallel train of thought; It saddens me to think back on all the bad things that Liberalism has done to this country. The worst problem America faces today is Liberalism. They have dumbed down education, they have defined deviancy down. Liberals have attack'd every major institution that made America great. From the Boy Scouts to the military; from education to Religion. The Major News outlets have become the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party. Liberals are evil, they embrace the tenets of Karl Marx, they're Marxist, socialist, communists.
This paragraph seems like an almost crystalline amalgam of the kind of eliminatist rhetoric that is spewed every day over the nation's media by the likes of O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and their swarms of ignoble imitators -- including Bernie Goldberg.
And indeed, as previously noted, books and materials from these right-wing hate talkers were exactly what investigators found when they went through Adkisson's belongings. Obviously, he was an avid consumer of their broadcast offerings as well.
And this is where it led:
If decent patriotic Americans could vote 3 times in every election we couldn't stem this tide of liberalism that's destroying America. Liberals are a pest like termites. Millions of them. Each little bite contributes to the downfall of this great Nation. The only way we can rid ourselves of this evil is Kill them in the streets. Kill them where they gather.
I'd like to encourage other like minded people to do what I've done. If life aint worth living anymore don't just Kill yourself, do something for your country before you go. Go Kill Liberals.
But merely pointing out the obvious, common-sense connection between O'Reilly's reckless rhetoric and Jim David Adkisson's murderous political-terror spree is enough to bring down O'Reilly's wrath. For instance, a Newsday writer pointed it out, and O'Reilly sent out the attack squads:
Note how O'Reilly frames the story: Nowhere does he mention that Adkisson not only read O'Reilly's book and watched O'Reilly's shows, but he was openly acting on the scapegoating of liberals contained therein.
Look, if it turned out that Caylee Anthony's killer were an O'Reilly fan too, it would indeed be unfair to connect anything O'Reilly might've written to that murder.
But in Adkisson's case, he left us this manifesto, which lays bare his motivations and his thinking. And as we can see from the organized nature of the piece, he was no more "insane" than Ted Kaczynski.
No one is blaming O'Reilly or Goldberg directly for the killings that resulted. But there is at least some level of culpability here that they need to face responsibly.
That means dealing with the matter forthrightly: Reporting the whole facts of the matter (particularly that Adkisson was clearly inspired by their own incessant scapegoating of liberals, often with violent language along the lines of "Screw them") and making clear that in no way did they ever intend these words to be taken as a call to violent action.
Not that they ever will, of course. These guys are big battleships, dontcha know. Why be bothered with such little spitballs as basic decency and integrity?
*For what it's worth, this is a farrago of strawmen: No major Democratic or liberal figures called either Bush or Cheney morons or fascists, nor Palin a racist; these characterizations could be found among some rank and file liberals (and their views were certainly not groundless), but no major spokesman of the 'Left', particularly not of a stature comparable to O'Reilly's on the Right, ever said such a thing. The story about Steele being pelted with Oreos, meanwhile, has since been pretty thoroughly debunked.