ONGOING APPEALS TO TURN DOWN THE RIGHT-WING TEMPERATURE…. The NYT‘s Paul Krugman raises a point today that should be obvious, but often goes unsaid at major media outlets: “Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment.”
It’s not that Fox News and the RNC deliberately incite violence — they don’t — it’s that they help create a toxic political environment, which blurs the line between mainstream conservatism and radical/dangerous ideas. Prominent right-wing voices, in office and in the media Krugman explained, are playing with fire, “winding up” potentially dangerous people.
Krugman, not surprisingly, mentioned Glenn Beck, which reminded me that Beck’s tirade on Wednesday’s show probably deserves a little more attention.
On his show Wednesday, Beck tried to puzzle out the political meaning of the attack on the U.S. Holocaust Museum. Alleged shooter James Von Brunn, Beck said, is “a lone gunman nutjob.” Fair enough. “You’re going to see a lot of nutjobs coming out of the woodwork now.” Uh-oh. Scarier still, all of our enemies may be working together. “They’d like to destroy us and they will work with anyone,” Beck says ominously.
You see, crazed militants, whether Islamists or white supremacists like Von Brunn, are responding to increasing “pressure.” Beck doesn’t excuse political violence, but he does see a cause. Several, actually. “It’s the economy, it is political correctness, it’s corruption in Washington, it’s the militant Islam. It’s all of these things.”
This seems like a rather typical laundry list of conservative complaints with current affairs, and not too far off from the factors listed in the Department of Homeland Security report that Beck scoffs at. (Of the report, Beck protests that violence “is not the work of right-wing conservatives.”) Then, to top it off, Beck throws in the General Motors bailout as another “pressure,” drawing an amen from guest Harry Binswanger. Binswanger adds that this sort of violence is “a leftist phenomenon.” “Right,” says Beck.
As digby said yesterday, “It doesn’t have to make sense, folks. It just has to hit a certain emotional truth. And his audience’s ‘truth’ is that al Qaeda is in cahoots with lone nuts to kill Jews and blame it on conservatives — and they are sneaking in from Mexico with ‘illegals’ to do it. This makes perfect sense to them.”
And that’s the problem.