Saturday, June 06, 2009
HATE SPEECH BEARS FRUIT
One is caused to wonder if there has ever been a time in the history of this nation that we have been so divided and fractionalized on so many fulcrums with as much hostility. Much of this is engendered by wild, irresponsible speech now when technology makes communications almost instantaneous.
Perhaps there have been periods in history when there was division, but usually issues were simpler. In the revolutionary period the patriots and the Tories resorted to violence. Then there were the Federalists and the Anti-federalists with new laws against sedition (free speech and publications). Jacksonian democracy brought conflicts between the commoners from the west and the propertied classes of the east. And, of course, there was the great Civil War replete first with name-calling and a terrible hatred, and followed by a massive loss of lives and devastation.
One could go on to cite many issues and historical periods of conflict. But at no time have we had such a daily harangue of criticism, allegations, divisiveness, and hostility unloaded on the American population from one basic constituency.
There is a daily assault by the Republican Party on the government leadership and the members of the other party. Their consistently negative, caustic speech and constant criticism of the president and all democratic efforts are dividing the country. It makes bi-partisanship impossible. Some political harangue might be expected, but for gosh sakes, give it a rest!
One could say that these political attacks are coming from the right wing of the Republican Party, but there is now every indication that is the ONLY wing in that party. Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Newt Gingrich, and Mr. Boehner, all critics-in-chief, are their leaders. With others seeking to emulate those, and none repudiated by regular party members or congressional people, then what else is left of the GOP but right wingers?
Republicans are known for inflammatory rhetoric. They have coined such terms as “death tax” for the traditional inheritance tax. They bandy around terms like “socialist” to describe any progressive proposal. They term abortion of embryos and fetuses as “baby killing.” They admit no fault and no errors of their own, past or present.
It is sad that we have our own form of the religiously fanatic Taliban ranging far and wide in this country. Members of fundamentalist churches have been led by their leaders to consider women’s reproductive freedom as “baby killing.” They then broaden that definition to the use of waste embryos in scientific research for treatment of injuries and disease. They regard all Muslims as evil, and Mr. Obama as the “Anti-Christ,” Muslim, and not a legal president.
There is no end to the political venom which comes from the hard right. There is an element in the country susceptible to such fanaticism and false information. It bursts forth in terrible ways.
A highly respected doctor was murdered in his church last week by a religious fanatic emboldened by the constant barrage of hate speech. When will we learn that domestic terrorists are developed and incubated by media rhetoric? They have their own groups with an undercover network for further cultivating hatred. This murderer, and other supporters of his cause, thought he was doing a heroic deed. Need we wonder why?
Mr. Obama gave a speech in Cairo hailed all over the world as “ground breaking” for peace. He outlined a blueprint for peoples of different races and religions getting along together through mutual respect and moral conduct. But his speech drew immediate negative responses from two groups – the Republicans and Al Qaeda. Wouldn’t you guess it?
Those left in the Republican Party are mostly a bitter and hateful bunch.
Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate