In the aftermath of Saturday’s shooting of Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, we are faced with new calls to tone down rhetoric and moderate our political allegiances. In other words, come into the accepted fold. This is a sick way to move our political discourse further to the right. When politicians can paint targets on their political opponents and talk about the need to “reload” rather than “retreat” and other such violent rhetoric, they should not be surprised when someone acts on their words. Which in turn unleashes a deluge of calls for moderation in discourse. This only serves to sever those with legitimate complaints about our system from accepted discourse, leading us only to charge forward into oblivion.
When met with charges of extreme dialogue and incendiary language we have to look at the source. The source currently under inspection seems to come largely from those in power or directly benefiting from the power structure. Tea Party hatriots, extremely rich and connected radio/talk show hosts, and position holding politicians are the culprits of the contemporary “extreme” discourse. Aside from the Tea Party members (and not the corporate and political overlords of the movement), all of these people directly benefit from the system exactly the way it is already. Those that would call pro-choice candidates “baby killers“; or hold rallys where representations of an opponent or pieces of legislature serve as the targets; or compel their partisans to “reload” in the “fights” of election season; or terrify the ignorant with rumors of sharia law and Muslim terrorism at the hands of the opposing party – all already are benefiting the way things currently run. If nothing about our system changed, it would only serve to increase their power and wealth.
So why would using such bloody language be at all useful to them? Why would they bite the hand that feeds?
Because of people like Jared Lee Loughner. A man who, from what I can discern, was not a political ideologue but rather a deeply troubled individual. We can try to read between the lines and call him a right-wing zealot or lefty revolutionary, but so far I think that’s more a reflection on those doing the name calling than anything else. And by some chance that we are able to discern Mr. Loughner’s political leanings, in truth they matter not. By acting out in a way that kills innocent people in such a way that Palin’s target map seems to eerily command, he has shocked a nation. Those very people who trumpeted out violent, incendiary, and hateful language will now be the town criers of moderation and the thought police of passivity.
This is the position and situation needed. With the amount of unrest in America today, the amount of revolutionary energy in the air – the power structure needs a way to limit the range of ideas marked as acceptable for the public to hear. Those who have legitimate complaints about the status quo can now be labeled with violent tendencies like Loughner’s, their exact position on violent means needs not be understood. Ideas that are deemed incendiary will be blocked from public discourse even more so than they already are, those that espouse notions of a better society can now be looked at as terrorists. Why waste time with another HUAC when you can just let someone become your example of the dangers of language. We see already that reading Karl Marx is being associated with Loughner’s acts because he listed the Communist Manifesto on his Youtube profile’s favorite books (bizarrely, along with Mein Kampf – he must have been one of those nazi Communists that Beck is always raving about).
The power structure is using this to limit what is an acceptable idea to convey, because they themselves were unable to keep their ugly, crazy mouths shut.