As you have doubtless heard James Hodgkinson made a terrorist attack on Republican House Whip Steven Scalise (though as Hodgkinson is a white man, nobody’s calling it terrorism). Which is horrible, wrong, and unacceptable.
Unfortunately it’s also leading to the inevitable “liberals must stop hatemongering” complaints from Republicans. Which pisses me off because they’ve been hatemongering since the Clinton years. And when they talk about political rhetoric getting overheated, they don’t mean themselves. A pastor who declared Obama to be acting like the Antichrist now thinks we need to tone down political demonization. Oh wait, he meant the mainstream media, universities and Hollywood should tone it down — he doesn’t say anything about hatemongers like himself or anyone else on the right (the three entities he cites are all “left” in the eyes of right wingers). Likewise a guy who criticized Kathy Griffin’s stunt with Donald Trump’s head has no problem saying we should put the head of London’s Muslim mayor on a pike.
Roy Edroso offers more examples and points out things like Trumpcare will get more people killed than any lone gunman (even though they’re lying through their teeth about it). Right-wing rocker Ted Nugent insists he’s cleaned up his rhetoric, but No More Mr. Nice Blog cries bullshit.
It’s fair to say people on the left should condemn Hodgkinson. But it’s important to remember the right wing doesn’t condemn violent rhetoric or talk of war against their political enemies. The only thing they condemn is when it’s directed at themselves. When they give forth with the same kind of talk, criticizing them is criticizing free speech! Just like long-time IRA supporter Rep. Peter King can turn around and condemn Muslim terrorists without any sense of hypocrisy. Likewise they’re outraged at businesses violating free-speech rights by firing people for stuff they say — provided they said something conservative.
Under George W. Bush, Republicans didn’t just shriek about violent rhetoric, they insisted that any rhetoric besides their own, any questioning of our Glorious Supreme Leader in a time of war was treason. It would embolden the enemy. The only duty of Americans was to obey! Liberals were a fifth column. Liberals wanted the terrorists to win. Liberals were objectively pro-terror. (Never mind that Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Anne Graham (Billy’s daughter) and Sen. James Inhofe all said America deserved 9/11 for being godless. Or that one Repub Party official thought another terrorist attack would be a good thing as we’d rally behind Republicans)
Then came Obama and everything Republicans insisted was Americans duty to sit down and obey suddenly changed. Calls for Revolution, hanging Obama in effigy, accusing him of leading a race war. Obama was divisive when he brought up race; Trump, by contrast? Not divisive at all, it seems. Just as they dumped on Obama for being inexperienced and therefore unfit to be president, but Trump’s lack of experience means we should cut him slack.
Oh, and it’s not alt.right fascists that leads to fascism, it’s liberal support for gay rights.
And have they forgotten the Pizzagate incident? Right wing conspiracy nuts claim there’s a child-abuse ring tied to Hilary Clinton, operating out of a pizza joint in DC. Someone shows up with a gun to investigate. I’m sure we’ll hear them denouncing that soon … any day …
Nevertheless, as Katha Pollitt points out, liberals are supposed to have empathy for struggling conservatives — nobody’s saying they should empathize with us too.
Hodgkinson was a murderer and arguably a terrorist. But Republicans who say they have a problem with violent terrorist rhetoric are lying through their teeth.