Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More Violent Political Rhetoric

One of the themes that I’ve explored and worried about since I began this blog is the ever-increasing amount of violent political rhetoric. I’ve also noted and fretted that the usage of violent political rhetoric has seemingly become tolerated, if not accepted and expected. Look around the rest of the world to see what societies look like that don’t have the affinity for democracy and the rule of law that are the hallmarks of the American system. Is that where we want to go?

Well, then, perhaps Americans need to start letting their elected officials and candidates know that some political speech simply goes too far.

First, this ad from Rick Barber, running for Congress in Alabama:


“Gather your armies?” Really? I could go on at length about the fallacies in this ad (“taxation without representation”?). And who exactly does Mr. Barber want to impeach, not to mention why? But don’t you think that a call, made over the butt of pistol, to gather armies is the type of violent rhetoric that we don’t really need. Oh, I’m sure that Mr. Barber will say that the reference to armies is figurative, rather than literal, but the use of the costumed “founding fathers,” the pistol, and the anger in his voice, should give all Americans pause.

Next we have a recent statement from Sharron Angle, the newly chosen Republican candidate for Senate in Nevada, given on a radio program (partial transcript follows, emphasis added):

You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact Thomas Jefferson said it's good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years.

I hope that's not where we're going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.

When our political candidates feel free to invoke the image of armies, revolution, and assassination in their political discourse, then we have a lot to worry about. Somehow, at least on the right, it appears to have become completely acceptable to say, “Gee, if we don’t get what we want (who cares that the majority may have voted against us), we’ll look to the use of violence to get our way!” As I’ve asked repeatedly over the last two and half years, how many exhortations to metaphorical violence will it take before some whackjob decides that these folks are serious and really does engage in some kind of domestic political terrorism or assassination?

That is a danger that we must all guard against, and it starts with telling politicians like Barber and Angle that their violent rhetoric is wholly unacceptable. Tell us what you stand for, tell us why you oppose a current policy or position, tell us what you’d do differently and why, but leave the calls for revolution and assassination to third world banana republics.


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