Posts Tagged ‘Ronald Kessler’

Conservative Uncle Demands Retraction (and Get’s One)

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

So My Conservative Uncle was outraged (outraged I say!) to hear my relatively mild comments about how rhetoric by prominent Fox News talking heads, certain Republican politicians, and some Tea Party “Patriots” might have contributed to an atmosphere that encourages (or at least condones) political violence in this country. According to My Conservative Uncle, the teabaggers can do no wrong and occasionally pointing out the racist, violent and over the top language that has been known to come out of their rallies is outrageous.

To that end, he sent me this Michelle Malkin “Democrats have also been mean to Republicans” collection that is supposed to minimize the teabaggers hate speech. Parroting O’Reilly, he claims that the Democrats are just looking to quiet the Republicans “now that they lost the political debate.”

Of course I reminded him that I was talking about the Republican climate of hate during the 2008 election cycle when Sister Sarah turned up the rhetoric about how “Obama paaaallls around with terrorists” and soon after, angry white people outside her rallies started yelling “Obama’s a terrorist!” It didn’t take long until the face of the Birthers materialized and this disheveled lady gave the fateful “Obama’s an Arab” comment at John MCain’s town hall meeting. I’ll never forget the mix of horror and anger on McCain’s face when he realized that he couldn’t control the monster his campaign had released.

Actually, my uncle sent me a similar Michelle Malkin moral relativism parade of horribles at that time as well (I remember, since it is difficult to get the image of a monkey shitting on John McCain’s head out of your mind), and of course I pointed out to him that this discussion all occurred before the Republicans “lost the political debate” in 2008…and continued in 2009 when his favorite patriots broke windows (including Gabby Gifford’s) and carved swastikas in black congressmen’s signs because they had voted to give health care to Americans.

So of course, this starts the conversation about whether there’s a double standard for conservatives vs. liberals when it comes to over the top/hateful political rhetoric and whether there should be. I struggle with this one, because on the one hand, there shouldn’t be; but on the other hand, given that many Republicans in general and teabaggers especially are gun fetishists and there hasn’t been any significant left wing political violence in this country since the 1970′s, there is clearly a different consequence to Republican hate speech than to Democrats’ hate speech.

By way of citation, I point to Oklahoma City, the dude who flew his plane into the IRS building in Texas, the dude who watched too much Glenn Beck and was on his way to shoot up an obscure liberal orgainzation when he was pulled over for drunk driving and it took 10 CHP officers to take him down….and I also point to the often reported stat that death threats against President Obama have increased 400% over President Bush (which is where I get into trouble).

Doing some fact checking of his own, conservative uncle turns up a video of the Secret Service Director, Mark Sullivan, reporting to Congress in December ’09 that threats to President Obama were at the same level as Clinton and Bush II.

Oops…

Along with that e-mail comes a rant about how this information was published. I’ll spare you the details but the general idea is that it was pushed by racist black people who hate America and want to show how racist white America is (see what I have to deal with?)

In actuality, this stat comes from a book about the Secret Serivce by Ronald Kessler. Far from being a liberal who “wants to show how racist America is,” Kesssler is the Chief Washington Correspondent of the conservative online publication newsmax.com. Included among his liberal screeds are a touching portrait of Laura Bush, a fawning look inside the Bush White House and a literary beatdown on Joseph Kennedy Sr. entitled “Sins of the Father.”

But back to the reason for this post (what was the reason for this post again?). Oh yes:

I retract the statement about the 400% increase in death threats to president Obama.

Whether there was an initial spike, but it went back to normal, or there was never any increase and Kessler’s source made it up is not clear. What is clear is that it can’t be considered a reliable stat. So I humbly apologize to my readers.

However, I do not apologize for the main thrust of my argument, which is that inciting an armed insurrection against the government, calling the president a “secret muslim” when there’s no evidence to support it, saying that the president (or presidential candidate at the time) “pals around with terrorists,” is corrosive and dangerous, especially when your main constituency includes a large number of gun nuts with a strong sense of victimhood and paranoia.

Not to mention that there’s a certain amount of dissonance one experiences hearing the defense of violent rhetoric against the elected government from a group of people who spent 2001-2008 talking about how unpatriotic liberals were for the political sin of disagreeing with the president.

It’s worth a reminder that, by that standard, the people who are unpatriotic now are the ones in colonial garb with bags of Lipton hanging from their tri-cornered hats.