Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tweets of hate redux

Some of the recent twitter chatter in the aftermath of the Holocaust Museum shooting by neo-Nazi James von Brunn:
JoAnneMoretti: How are they still calling Von Brunn Right wing? The guy was a Dem, hates Jews, Bush and neo-cons. That's left wing! Get it straight!
iskidd: von Brunn hated blacks, jews, Fox News and the Federal Gov't. Total left wing socialist anti-semite Huffpo freak
HuntzHall: The NUTJOB LEFTISTS want to draw a line between Von Brunn and the right-wing. ("Reprehensible" would be a good word here!)
ewerickson: von Brunn's writings show he'd have been banned ASAP at RedState, but would have enjoyed a long career as a recommended diarist at DailyKos.
ConservativeGal: They want to blame Ann Coulter & conservatives for James Von Brunn's anti-semitism views! Liberal whining at its premium best! LOL
bweintraub: James Von Brunn, Like Most Holocaust Deniers are From the Left not the Right
jazzbokoontz: How is von Brunn a right-wing extremist? He hates Bush, O'Reilly, neo-cons, believes Bush and Jews set up 9-11. That's right-wing? BS.
Scott_ATL: Anderson Cooper last night continued to refer to James Von Brunn as a "Right Wing Extremist". Wise up Anderson and CNN.
Con_Brawler: Von Brunn hated Christianity, Conservatism and Capitalism and had plans to attack the Weekly Standard. A right-winger he was NOT.
clstrout: Racist Museum Shooter Outspoken Liberal
Waiting4Godot: von Brunn #falseflag to destroy 9/11 truth, stop 'Audit the Fed' bill, repeal #2A, stop calls for end to Israel expansion,criminalize speech
johnyaya137: James Von Brunn is From the Left
JRuppert: Turns out the Holocaust Museum killer James von Brunn was a registered Democrat who hated conservatives,..A fact left out by the media.
A few thoughts. First, the chatter is considerably more subdued than it was with regard to Dr. Tiller's assassination. It should be mentioned that for the most part (and this was true for the various tweets regarding Tiller and the man who assassinated him, Roeder) the comments are ones of shock, dismay, and disgust at what von Brunn perpetrated. One can, I think, take some comfort that most folks, from most perspectives, seem to understand the consequences of extremism when they see them.

The chatter regarding von Brunn's alleged party affiliation fits in with the meme that has been floated in right-wing circles of von Brunn as a "leftist'. At this point, I think it's time to ditch some of the tribalism inherent in such commentary and look at what party affiliation might or might not mean. If I were to read somewhere that an octogenarian who harbored anti-black and anti-Jewish sentiments and identified with white supremacist movements was also a registered Democrat, I would be thoroughly unsurprised. Let's just say if one were to look at the bulk of my relatives (some close, most distant) from von Brunn's age cohort or older, most of them were lifelong Democrats. At the time when these people were reaching adulthood, the Democratic Party in the US was very hostile toward any effort to achieve racial equality. Hell, the party had a stranglehold on the former Confederate states, with their Jim Crow laws. Although some of von Brunn's cohort would have re-registered GOP in 1960s or 1970s once the Dems had taken some baby steps toward racial equality, many would keep their registration unchanged (many of these folks would become our "Reagan Democrats"). What I'm trying to convey here is that not too long ago, it would have been perfectly consistent to be a registered Democrat and also hold, say, a KKK membership - and although that particular demographic is mostly dying out, there are a few of them clinging to life. From conversations I can still recall with some of my own relatives of that age group while they were still alive, I can assure you there was nothing liberal about them.

I would also say a few things about the 9-11 truthers. These folks come from all over the political map, although my experience is that the majority of them are pretty right-wing in their political views, prone to conspiracy theories, and highly dogmatic. That one can find a sample of these truthers convinced that von Brunn's behavior is some sort of false flag operation just further convinces me of the general wackiness of much of that movement.

Finally, I'm noticing in the chatter on twitter as well as on various other sites around the Internet toobz a tendency by right-wingers to conflate (at least implicitly) criticism of Israeli treatment of Palestinians on some centrist/center-"left" sites such as Daily Kos with being anti-Jewish. I'd offer that being critical of the genocidal behavior of the Israeli government doesn't make one anti-Jewish any more than being critical of the genocidal behavior of the Nazi government in the 1930s and 1940s would have made one anti-German. From what I remember of Daily Kos, just as an example, I always had the distinct impression that someone spouting Holocaust denialism (as von Brunn has done for ages) would not last more than a handful of comments before being banned. Hell, as it is, even mild criticism of Israel gets one in all manner of hot water at Daily Kos.

Speaking of denial, again, it's striking as to how right-wingers are in denial regarding the role that so many of their authority figures have fanned the flames, have created a Zeitgeist in which a substantial subset of their own kindred spirits might view violence against various out-groups as acceptable. The extent to which right-wing political, religious, and media figures have vilified and dehumanized a variety of targeted groups, such as liberals, pro-choicers, undocumented immigrants, Arabs, Muslims, and educators is awe-inspiring. In fact, you'd have to really stretch to find any such comparable rhetoric among those viewed as leaders among what passes for a left in the US. Nor are you likely to find much in the way of incitement to violence among leftist or left-leaning political, religious, or media figures that seems to be quite prominent in the rhetoric among right-wingers.

If I have time, there are more remarks that I'll want to make. As it is, I've already taken myself away from some other projects for longer than I intended.

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