Saturday, June 13, 2009

When Even Fox News Is Worried: Conservative Extremists Ride A Rising Tide of Hatred

It has not been all that long since I was a politically active college rabble-rouser, at a pro-choice rally commemorating the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I was one in a sea of women and men, all supporting speakers who came forward to warn of the "chipping away" of a woman's right to choose by legislative or judicial means. There were thousands of people there, all my age or a little older, standing up for the fundamental, and perfectly legal, right of a woman to control her own reproductive choice. No one, not a single politician or activist that day brought forth the idea that the way to erode the possibility of obtaining a safe, legal abortion would be to assassinate the doctors providing the service.

Apparently, when the rule of law, our judicial and legislative branches of government and the right to protest fail to provide the recourse you seek, it is perfectly acceptable to the conservative right to use violence, and even murder, to seek the recourse they desire. Who came out to speak after this whack-job assassinated Dr. Tiller? Terry, the freak of nature head of the Christian right anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. The kind of hate speech he uses to vilify those who provide what is still a legal medical procedure in this country, the kind of inciting to riot, inciting to kill, that this nutcase preaches is what drives the harassment and murders of providers in this country. Because, after all, if the Bush administration taught us anything, it's that fear works. The "O, Fortuna" strategy, as Rachel Maddow points out so clearly. If you can't get the right to a safe, legal abortion changed, then, in the name of God, go out and kill the few legal providers that are left in this country so that women will have no access.

I am tired of the fear-mongering. I am sick to death of these folks who claim to be pro-life, yet do not hesitate to murder another human being or incite others to do so. Apparently, life is only precious when it it inside the womb, as the death penalty and this recent sort of "public hanging" of sorts is A-O.K. in the eyes of the right. And I am sorry, but I can't believe for one minute that the kind of hate speech and rhetoric that we are hearing from right-wing talk radio and psychos like the many anti-abortion groups on the web are doing anything but harm. They heavily promote the kind of vigilante purging that amounts to a sort of political ethnic cleansing, as it were, of those who do not share their closed-minded beliefs.

There is a reason that the Holocaust Museum shooting and the murder of Dr. Tiller happened in the same two week span. It is accepted, and even touted as heroic to kill for "the cause." How is what these two monsters did any different from what the 9/11 terrorists did? Killing for the cause. They're seen as heroes in their sick circle of fringe-element believers. They are martyrs.

I am a staunch believer in the First Amendment. I defend The Fourth Estate as a vital part of our system of checks and balances. But the Limbaugh-esque oral diarrhea on the airwaves is tantamount to crying "Fire!" in a crowded theatre - there is a limit to what is acceptable as responsible speech, even in a democracy. We know that the broadcasting of hate, whether toward pro-choice or racial in nature, has gone over the top when one of the execs at Fox News stated that he was frightened by the tone and tenor of the letters and emails sent by their extremist viewers. (Of course, now the Right wants his head for going public.) But the conservative media knows damn well what they are doing when they put their hatred and vitriol out upon the airwaves and the internet. They are continuing the Bush rhetoric of fear and loathing. They are encouraging the fringe and the nutjobs to act on their crazy-assed plans. And it's working just as Limbaugh and company hoped it would. And in my book, that's as anti-American as it gets.