April 19, 2010

Oklahoma City and right wing hatred--15 years ago

I remember the day all too well, as I am sure many of you do. I went into the history office and heard from someone that there had been an explosion downtown at the federal building. I wasn't immediately worried about SOF because I mistakenly thought that the federal building was near the capital. When I learned it was only a few blocks away from where she worked, I was worried. And then, of course, I learned how bad the explosion really was.

We looked into the face of hatred that day, and found out that this particular brand of it was one of our own. He didn't just appear out of the ether, mind you, he was created out of a few small legitimate resentments packaged with a whole host of irrational and coaxed hatred. Just like now, talk radio fed the hatred and gave those already feeling displaced a target for their anger. No, it wasn't new, it was just more emotional and more widespread.

This morning, remembering that smoking crater that was the Murrah building, I open the newsreader only to see that the Militia movement will be packing heat at rally on the Potomac:
"Almond plans to have his pistol loaded and openly carried, his rifle unloaded and slung to the rear, a bandoleer of magazines containing ammunition draped over his polo-shirted shoulder. The Atlanta area real estate agent organized the rally because he is upset about health-care reform, climate control, bank bailouts, drug laws and what he sees as President Obama's insistence on and the Democratic Congress's capitulation to a 'totalitarian socialism' that tramples individual rights."
Of course, Obama signed the law that makes carrying that gun into the park legal, and these idiots seem to forget that Bush did more to intrude on their individual liberties than anything Obama has even suggested, and these assholes cheered for Bush and company.

This morning, I am remembering conversations with distant family members who said that Obama was a socialist radical, or any of them who continue to say that he hates America or wants our economy to fail (McCain) or that he is purposefully undermining our national security. Or those, like Rush and Beck who accuse him of open racism. Or those like Palin who cheered crowds to see Obama as a supporter of terrorism.

I understand the motivations for Rush and Beck. It is simply, and cynically money and fame. But I really wonder about the supposedly mature and rational and Christian who give credence to the crazy by suggesting that they are right to fear Obama. Their motivation is less clear to me. They know better. And yet, they send that signal to those who are not quite all together, that their fear of government is reasonable--that their hatred of Obama is understandable.

You know the right is unhinged when even Kathleen Parker fears their rhetoric and suggests that grownup Republicans and rational people everywhere need to shout them down.
The only palatable answer is what conservatives say they love best: self-control and personal responsibility. When someone spews obscenities, shout them down. When politicians and pundits use inflammatory language, condemn them.

When you choose to remain silent, consider yourself complicit in whatever transpires.

Benen notes the problem of the silent Republican standing by while Republican members of Congress cheer on the mob:
The Washington Monthly: "In some ways, the silence troubles me nearly as much as the extremism itself. I want desperately to hear Republican Party officials and leaders make clear that they find overheated madness to be offensive and wrong.

But they don't, because they can't -- Republicans are counting on rage to win elections and fill their campaign coffers. So the party makes Palin becomes a hero, it puts Bachmann in front of the cameras, it sweeps Steve King's sympathies towards domestic terrorism under the rug, it tolerates GOP leaders equating the party with the Taliban, and it decides it can try to lower the temperature at some later date, perhaps after the midterms."

To be absolutely clear, there is no guarantee against crazy people taking up arms or explosives. None. But only fools look at this heightened environment and urge their followers to "reload." Only idiots tell angry crowds that they should beat their opponents to a pulp.

The conservative grownups among us can no longer be silent.


Bob said...

I looked at the Parker column and it occurred to me maybe we should ask these people who plan to take up arms who, specifically who they plan to shoot first. To many, the rhetoric is abstract and the enemy is some jack-booted imaginary thug, but I would be curious to hear the answer.

steves said...

As far as I know, the various marches and rallies have been planned for a long time. Besides being the anniversary of the OK City bombing, it is also the 235 anniversary of the start of the Revolutionary War and the battles of Lexington and Concord and is a state holiday in several states.

I noticed that many news reports piggybacked the rallies and the anniversary of the bombing and failed to report on the the publicized reason for this date and ran with the Tim McVeigh = militia member = gun owner. I know there is some angry rhetoric, but I have yet to visit any gun forum or discussion group where McVeigh is treated like anything but nutcase and a psychopath.

I am disappointed that so many people that are critical of the media and how they present a story would just jump on the bandwagon that all gun rights activists are violent revolutionaries just waiting to kill.

In case you were wondering, I wasn't at any kind of rally (there was a local one), as I started a new job. I don't get into the whole open carry thing, but I do think it is useful to remind our elected officials that gun owners vote.

Streak said...

The fact that they have been planned for a long time suggests that they knew this would be an issue. Yeah, I get the Lexington and Concord connection, but they are tone-deaf to think that this doesn't look good. I know about Lexington and I still think this is shitty.

Militia and gun owners want to be taken seriously, this is not the way.

Streak said...

And by the way, the fact that the militia gun people don't like McVeigh is fine, but it doesn't explain the tone deaf response to the date. Perhaps people outside Oklahoma (or inside, with the militia talk) don't have a clue how much this bombing hit every one of us, but they should. Hell, we have heard about these marches for months and the criticism has been pretty loud.

Sorry for the tone, but any militia gun group that called a march or anything for today deserves every damn bit of criticism they get. If they care so little about those of us scared to death of right wing extremism, then they can deal with the egg on their face. You want to flex the gun voter muscle? pick a different day.

Bob said...

"...and ran with the Tim McVeigh = militia member = gun owner. I know there is some angry rhetoric, but I have yet to visit any gun forum or discussion group where McVeigh is treated like anything but nutcase and a psychopath. "

You are being too sensitive. This article doesn't discuss gun rights advocates, it discusses nut jobs who are calling for arming themselves against the government or taking some sort of violent action. Your comment made this about gun rights, which (I hope) it is not.

steves said...

Good point. The rallies were about gun rights and most of those attending, from what I have been told, weren't militia.