Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Debatable"

Over at Lenin's Tomb:
Gary Younge nails it:
Fights outside town hall meetings, guns outside rallies, Facebook pages calling for assassinations, discussions about the most propitious moment for armed insurrection. In late October I asked a man in the quaint town of Salida, Colorado, if President Barack Obama had done anything worthwhile. "Well he's increased the guns and ammunitions industry exponentially," he said. "My friends are stockpiling."
To dismiss these as the voices and actions of the marginal was to miss the point and misunderstand the trend. America is more polarised under Obama than it has been in four decades: the week he was elected gun sales leapt 50% year on year.
Where the right is concerned the marginal and the mainstream have rapidly become blurred. Neither the Tea Party nor Obama created these divisions. But over the past two years they have intensified to an alarming degree. Polls last year revealed that a majority of Republicans believe Obama is a Muslim and a socialist who "wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one-world government" while two-thirds of Republicans either believe or are not sure that the president is "a racist who hates white people", and more than half believe or are not sure that "he was not born in the US" and that he "wants the terrorists to win".
In this alternative reality armed response becomes, if not logical, then at least debatable.
Republican reactionaries and their business and media allies have spent years winding people up, filling the public with hysterical, poisonous shit about black communist welfare queen drug mules taking over the country. The corporate-funded Tea Party crowd are largely white, more than averagely well-off yanks who believe - have been fervently told - that the country belongs to them and them alone. Hence, take it back. Hence, the batshit 'birther' insanity, and Palin's 'real America', and the vigorous promotion of John Birch Society bile in the shape of Glenn Beck. They're trying to make a large section of the public as irrational as possible, fill their heads with racial conspiracies, turn every last white man and woman who still has a house and two cars into a potential minuteman, ku klux or vigilante.
The author goes on to tie the increasingly violent rhetoric and behaviors with the increases in organizational and structural violence that as I've noted before so pervade American life. A civilization that increasingly embraces as its core assumption the notion that life is cheap and we're all expendable (albeit some more expendable than others) is not likely one that will embrace what would be considered rational: cooperation, nonviolent conflict resolution, respectful disagreements, rational debates, etc. Instead, outright elimination of enemies (i.e., anyone who just happens to be "different") becomes increasingly acceptable not only hypothetically but in practice. One might say that what we're witnessing as the devolution of our social and political discourse is essentially the birds coming home to roost. The huge question, and one that I have no clear answer to, is what can be done if anything. Or are we already past the point of no return?

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