Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Wink and The Gun

Bill O'Reilly is generally and correctly thought of as one of the worst people currently living. If you follow the link below, however, you will see a man grasping with the complex moral issue of whether or not murder is something that people should be doing on their own, in the streets, after TV pundits tell them to. It's like Dostoevsky!

O'Reilly recently got a lot of heat for calling health-care-provider George Tiller "Tiller the baby killer" on his nightly opinion/hate show. When a fringe lunatic murdered Tiller, Billy was all, "oh, wow, I can't believe that happened! Oh me oh my I NEVER wanted that!"

Since that controversy, O'Reilly must take the unfamiliar position of not advocating murder on his show. He recently had Geraldo--who, by the way, not-so-subtly called for the execution of a private citizen by other private citizens--on the show, and the two of them discussed the finer points of mob justice. Geraldo is all excited about this new era wherein the populace takes the law into it's own collective, righteous, Fox News-watching hands, but O'Reilly must force himself to play devil's advocate and disagree. He is obviously uncomfortable with this new "pro-life" stance, as indicated by his stumbling over phrases like, "Now, we shouldn't actually KILL these people, right?"

I can't find the video of this on youtube or google, so here's a link to Gawker, with video embedded.

For more information on how right-wing pundits can spurn on vigilante justice, see this article by Chip Berlet on Huffpo, or listen to Terry Gross interview him on Fresh Air.

I disagree with parts of Berlet's argument in the Fresh Air interview, particularly when he equates left- and right-wing extremism. Although I don't subscribe to the Truther movement, I have found that--by and large--that community is driven by skepticism of the official government explanation of 9/11, not bigotry, xenophobia, or any of the other wonderhate ideologies that are so often a part of right-wing extremism. That said, the interview is still well worth listening to. Here's a small excerpt from his Huffpo piece:

Demagogues and conspiracy theorists use the same four "tools of fear." These are 1) dualism; 2) scapegoating; 3) demonization; and 4) apocalyptic aggression. The tools of fear are a connected constellation of frames, narratives, and processes used by demagogues to mobilize resentment and undermine the democratic process.

The basic dynamics remain the same no matter the ideological leanings of the demonizers or the identity of their targets. Meanwhile, our ability to resolve disputes through civic debate and compromise is hobbled. It is the combination of demagogic demonization and widespread scapegoating that is so dangerous. In such circumstances, angry allegations can quickly turn into apocalyptic aggression and violence targeting scapegoated groups like Jews or immigrants.

Let's just say it's lucky for this blog that the Irish are now just considered White, because if they were hated like they used to be, I'd be blogging from my mom's basement.

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