Right-wing Media Stokes Violence Against Liberals
The recent shooting at a Tennessee Unitarian church is not surprising. Right-wing propaganda has been encouraging violence against the left for years.
Sometimes it really sucks to be proved right. Several months ago I predicted that what with rising gas prices, growing layoffs and record foreclosures, we soon start to see a lot more violent incidents as Americans unraveled under stress.
America has a dangerous combination of poor mental health services, a disintegrating family structure and a high-stress work environment. Combine that with easy access to firearms and you have a recipe for spectacular disaster.
So I was shocked, but not surprised at the recent church shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church in Knoxville, Tenn. On Sunday, Jim Adkisson, an unemployed truck driver, walked into a Unitarian church, and opened fire on parishioners leaving two dead and seven people injured. Even more disturbing was his rationale. Usually killers turn against their families and co-workers, but Adkisson lashed out against a group who he thought was responsible for his problems – liberals.
There is something sadly ironic about this whole situation. The gunman was upset by his lack of employment and the fact that his unemployment benefits were soon going to run out. But he vented his rage on a group of people who probably would have been the most sympathetic to his cause.
Adkisson was mad at liberals because he felt that their causes, gay rights and civil rights for ethnic groups, were tearing America apart. However I am pretty sure that gays and people of color were not responsible for Adkisson’s predicatment.
The people who laid him off and cut off his benefits were most likely white conservative men, people who Adkisson identified with. Even though he was a blue-collar worker, with little education or wealth, Adkisson probably thought he was just like his conservative icons. That’s pretty twisted logic, but it explains one of the mysteries of the American political system.
The genius of the American right-wing is that it has always exploited the fears of blue-collar and middle class Americans to keep them voting against their own interests. In the 1960s, the GOP won the South by exploiting white Southerners fears of racial integration. However more than 40 years later poor white Southerners still don’t have health care or decent employment opportunities.
However as blacks became more integrated into society, conservatives had to add to their list of enemies. Latinos, brown-skinned, non-English speaking, and threatening to out breed white people, became the new public enemy. This fear is still alive in the minds of many conservatives. Pat Buchanan recently penned an article on MSNBC decrying how the days of the white majority are numbered. Commentator John Gibson said on FOX News that “white people need to start having more babies.”
Conservatives also attacked gay people, branding them as a threat to the American family and the institution of marriage, even though conservative Southerners often have more divorces and less stable relationships than long-lasting gay couples. (Case in point Oklahoma, the buckle of the Bible Belt, has the second highest divorce rate next to Nevada and a major problem with teen pregnancy.)
Unfortunately gullible Middle Americans swallowed this propaganda and voted Republicans into power. And what did they get in return? Poorer working conditions, no healthcare and vanishing benefits. No wonder their frustration turns into anger, as it did with Adkisson. They feel they have done the right thing, but still end up getting screwed over.
It seems many Middle Americans do not understand how the political game is played. They are looking at the game of political chess in two dimensions, when it really played in three, if not, four dimensions. Red staters see gays and brown people as the enemy, but what about the right-wing politicians who have voted down their interests, shipped their jobs abroad, and whittled away their benefits?
Incidentally, the brown people and the gays are not doing much better, so who is really benefiting from the game? Doesn’t the old adage say, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend?”
There are many reasons why the rage of Middle Americans is kept directed in the wrong place. Religion, always a powerful tool of mental oppression, has been used to keep minds chained. The GOP has portrayed itself as the party of God, even though its policies, which ignore the poor and deny basic healthcare are very unchristian. In the minds of church-going Southerners, God’s word is not to be questioned. By using Evangelical buzz words and manipulating End Time theories, President George W. Bush came to be seen as ordained by God, and so Evangelicals supported him en masse, without taking a closer look at his policies. Eight years later, the scales are beginning to fall from their eyes.
But apart from politicizing Christianity, the Conservative movement has also created a powerful propaganda machine which pumps out lies and misinformation disguised as patriotism and right-wing opinion. However it was not enough to keep the unwashed masses stupid, and voting against their interests, conservative propagandists also had to target new enemies to serve as a scape goat for all of America’s political and economic problems.
The last 10 years has seen a wave of vicious hate speech disguised as right-wing opinion. It would be bad enough if the right-wing media just criticized left-wing policies, but they have also succeeded in demonizing liberals and calling for their extermination. Liberals have been branded as effeminate, perverted, godless America haters who are worthy of death. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter has regularly called for violence against liberals and other undesirables such as Middle Easterners and Jews. (She once said that The New York Times building needed to be blown up). On the home of the right-wing news media, FOX News, pundits regular joke about the execution of presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama. Other commentators such as Bill O’Reilly compare liberals to Nazis and the KKK.
I suspect that Adkisson regularly filled his brain with the kind of poisonous bile spewed by FOX News and its ilk. It’s no wonder that after years of having violent ideas pumped into his brain, he decided to point his gun at subhuman liberals.
Ironically conservative icons Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, have both recently signed multi-million deals which keep them insulated against the economic unrest face by most Americans. They laugh in the face of the struggles of blue-collar and middle-class Americans. To them, anyone having financial woes is either stupid or lazy.
To Americans who still buy what the right-wing propaganda machine is selling, I quote them Denzel Washington from the movie “X,”: “We been bamboozled! Hoodwinked! Run amok!”