In the world of politics, there are what I like to call "teachable moments," places in time where the people of any given country sit back and go, "Huh. Well, let's never do that again." The Watergate scandal is a good example of this. That was a "whoops" moment, and we learned from it, watching our elected and appointed officials much more carefully from then on out.
I feel like, if I pulled up any random link on this blog, something about how we didn't learn much after 9/11 would appear. Or a joke about poop. Could go either way.
Regardless of how you feel about the actions of the Bush administration, it is clear that the country went in two different directions. I hate categorically labeling everyone in the nation as "one" or "the other" but I think that description is apt enough to keep. And, if I were to completely oversimplify the situation, the dividing line occurs at the issue of how dangerous Al Queda is. Questions about whether you think the actions of the Bush administration were right or wrong, questions about civil liberties, questions about interrogation tactics...whatever, are all originated in the question of exactly how big of a threat you feel these people are.
I won't get into the reasons why I think what I think about terrorism, but in general, I'm not too scared of it. And again, to speak in general and to oversimplify the situation, I think most the left-of-center crowd in America agrees with me. Yes, they are scary, but not world-ending scary. These are not xenomorphs we're talking about.
You may have heard about this news story. Maybe you didn't, because to me, it doens't sound life-changing.
Adkisson, the guy that did all the shooting and whatnot, wrote up a four-page suicide note slash "manifesto" which was recently released to the public. If I may provide the juiciest of bits:
"I thought I'd do something good for this Country Kill Democrats til the cops kill me."
David Neiwert, over at Crooksandliars.com (fairly popular for a blog), had this to say about the incident.
It is fearmongering, pure and simple. The comparisons to this blog post and the language of post-9/11 terror is almost identical, to say nothing of the hyperbolic nature of the piece. If I may:
James Adkisson has been sentenced to life behind bars for the deaths of Greg McKendry and Linda Kraeger, the Unitarian Universalist martyrs who died during his assault on their church in Knoxville, TN last July. (emphasis mine in this and all subsequent quotes)
Adkisson will likely emerge from this as a new hero of the extreme right wing.
We are no longer safe, not even in our own houses of worship.
A significant part of this country's media infrastructure is thoroughly devoted to inciting people to commit horrific acts of violence against us.
Neiwert seems incapable of focusing on anything other than "us and them". That is the only way he can see this event. For me, I am looking at the act of a crazy person, who killed victims, who will be seen as a hero only by other crazy people.
This is where our political discourse breaks down, and it's a big problem. I have to wonder how somebody can sit and without a hint of irony, write that the media wants people to harm him. This is insanity.
He even makes the very broad statement about "[us] being no longer safe." Without bothering to define the "[us]", he makes it clear that yes, the world is ending. The media is out to get "us" and people who follow right-wing ideaology want nothing more than to murder liberals. This is insanity.
A big part of many people's problems is that Adkisson was a fan of such-and-such right-wing media personality. To say that any form of media -- this includes music, radio, TV, video games -- incites one to murder is, well, insanity.
It's insanity of the worst kind too. It has bred fear amongst a group of people, ill-defined they may be, and cast members of the American public as homocidal psychopaths and people that cannot be reasoned with. The sooner we stop drawing Xs over people in the world, the better off and less murdered we'll be.