Frank Rich penned a revealing column about the “silent enablers” who help stoke the fires of crackpots and zealots through incendiary rhetoric.
Due to an unprecedented degree of fear mongering (Obama is an anti-American, secret Muslim, Jew-controlled, socialist, fascist, Marxist, pinko, baby-killing Antichrist!) and a historic, sea-changing election, the number of fanatical Fruit Loops has sky-rocketed.
What are they mad at? Everyone. What are they afraid of? Everything. What’s their answer to that anger and fear? Kill something. Fun times.
In his scant 145 days in office, the new president has not remotely matched the Bush record in deficit creation. Nor has he repealed the right to bear arms or exacerbated the wars he inherited. He has tried more than his predecessor ever did to reach across the aisle. But none of that seems to matter. A sizable minority of Americans is irrationally fearful of the fast-moving generational, cultural and racial turnover Obama embodies — indeed, of the 21st century itself. That minority is now getting angrier in inverse relationship to his popularity with the vast majority of the country. Change can be frightening and traumatic, especially if it’s not change you can believe in.
Rich writes extensively about a FOX News’ anchorman Shepard Smith and his recounting during the Holocaust Museum shooting of how maniacal and frightening some of the email he’d received since the election had gotten. Smith was criticized by Limbaugh and others for this (some even calling for him to be fired), but the news man seemed genuinely concerned about the tone.
Rich on Smith and Bill O’Reilly:
Then he brought up another recent gunman: “If you’re one who believes that abortion is murder, at what point do you go out and kill someone who’s performing abortions?” An answer, he said, was provided by Dr. George Tiller’s killer. He went on: “If you are one who believes these sorts of things about the president of the United States …” He left the rest of that chilling sentence unsaid.
These are extraordinary words to hear on Fox. The network’s highest-rated star, Bill O’Reilly, had assailed Tiller, calling him “Tiller the baby killer” and likening him to the Nazis, on 29 of his shows before the doctor was murdered at his church in Kansas. O’Reilly was unrepentant, stating that only “pro-abortion zealots and Fox News haters” would link him to the crime. But now another Fox star, while stopping short of blaming O’Reilly, was breaching his network’s brand of political correctness: he tied the far-right loners who had gotten their guns out in Wichita and Washington to the mounting fury of Obama haters …
… What’s startling is the spillover of this poison into the conservative political establishment. Saul Anuzis, a former Michigan G.O.P. chairman who ran for the party’s national chairmanship this year, seriously suggested in April that Republicans should stop calling Obama a socialist because “it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago.” Anuzis pushed “fascism” instead, because “everybody still thinks that’s a bad thing.” He didn’t seem to grasp that “fascism” is nonsensical as a description of the Obama administration or that there might be a risk in slurring a president with a word that most find “bad” because it evokes a mass-murderer like Hitler.
Rich, throughout the article, makes the case that all this hot-headed rhetoric could — or may already have — get someone killed, yet those doing the most steam-filled blathering seemed unwilling or uninterested in even entertaining the thought that their fearsome language is contributing to the problem.
He referenced the calls of “treason” and “terrorists” at GOP rallies during the presidential campaign, and Glenn Beck’s bizarro political-evangelical hour where he both denounces the Holocaust Museum shooter as a lone killer, then points to the 88-year-old James von Brunn as being symptomatic of something larger, all while blithely in denial that his EVERYBODY PANIC WHILE I WEEP FOR AMERICA routine is more than afternoon entertainment. You can exactly scream fire over and over in a crowded theater, then report on the ensuing panic as if it were a horrific surprise.
Glenn Beck has dipped into O’Reilly’s Holocaust analogies to liken Obama’s policy on stem-cell research to the eugenics that led to “the final solution” and the quest for “a master race.” After James von Brunn’s rampage at the Holocaust museum, Beck rushed onto Fox News to describe the Obama-hating killer as a “lone gunman nutjob.” Yet in the same show Beck also said von Brunn was a symptom that “the pot in America is boiling,” as if Beck himself were not the boiling pot cheering the kettle on. But hyperbole from the usual suspects in the entertainment arena of TV and radio is not the whole story.
I don’t expect the TV and radio talkers like O’Reilly, Beck and Limbaugh and more to tone down jack crap. They’re entertainers. This pays the bills. But it is grossly irresponsible to repeat things you know aren’t true or to exaggerate and inflame things to the point of absurdity when you know there is a percentage of people out there who will take your words as cannon. These are people who want to believe the worst about the president and this country.
And it’s a dangerous thing when people want FOX to fire their best anchor simply because he honestly relays that his email has gotten a tad nutters of late. If you can’t handle the reality that some people have taken a historic election as the panic alarm to the end of everything, what truth can you handle? After all, if they go off it’s not like only Democrats and minorities will be affected by the fall out.