So distressing, and yet true: A lot of people want to harm, or kill, the President of the United States.
And maybe that’s always true, no matter who the president is. Maybe it’s natural that the most powerful, famous man in the world will also be the natural target for anger, hatred and the murderous intent of crazy people. We are a flawed species, particularly clever in finding new ways to leverage our imperfections into more efficient ways to harm ourselves, and others.
So why is the American media so intent on goading the hatred?
Not everyone in the media, perhaps. But certainly the political commentariat. And not just the far right, either. Think of the breathless, scandal-rich narrative heard every day on CNN’s “Situation Room.” Fair and balanced, I suppose: any pol with a hot story to tell, or be told upon, gets their moment in the klieg lights.
But the further right you go, the worse it gets. At least, that’s how it been for the last, oh I don’t know, nine and a half months, or so.
You know who we’re talking about. And the vocabulary they use.
I give you Rush Limbaugh:
Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates? “He’s a racist,” Mr. Limbaugh said. “He’s an angry racist.”
Sonja Sotomayor? “She’s a bigot. She’s a racist. How can a president nominate such a candidate? And how can a party get behind such a candidate? That’s what would be asked if somebody were foolish enough to nominate David Duke or pick somebody even less offensive.”
President Obama? He’s “the biggest reverse racist in history.” On another occasion: “Just as he is ACORN, just as he is Van Jones, he is racism.”On a third: “How do you get promoted in a Barack Obama administration? By hating white people.” So implicitly Mr. Limbaugh is labeling multiple figures within the administration as racists too.
Democrats generally? “The racism that everybody thinks exists on our side of the aisle has been on full display throughout their primary campaign.”
Liberals? “You know, racism in this country is the exclusive province of the left.”
All that from this Daily Beast analysis on the same guy who proclaimed last week that his failed attempt to buy the NFL’s St. Louis Rams was a result of a high-tech lynching, ala Clarence Thomas.
follow the jump, and the hate, for more…
So incendiary language. What else is new? Not enough. Until you get to the ever-increasing hysteria. And the apocalyptic overtones. And what seems frighteningly like a media-borne incitement to McVeigh-style violence.
Not that anyone on the bright side of the camera is going to admit it. Glenn Beck, by his own assertion, is little more than a “rodeo clown.” When pressed Limbaugh dismisses himself as an entertainer, a broadcaster whose sole mission is to fill airtime and sell ads.
Which would be fine if he (they, and not just the far right) weren’t so obviously playing at leadership. And aiming themselves squarely at the most feverish, and possibly dangerous, segments of society.
It’s all fever talk. Fire and brimstone. Flames and locusts. The world is exploding. The other side is satanic. They are criminal, murderous, evil to the core.
It’s great for ratings. So black-and-white (literally, when the Limbaughs of the world are talking). So visceral and real. Catch me on a bad day and I talk that way about my various antagonists, too. Only I’m not imagining anyone’s death. And as we keep hearing, a lot of people seem to be doing just that.
Every day has its own aspiring John Wilkes Booth. Only the 19th century didn’t have the constant blazing commentary flowing through the media 24/7. Or maybe it did, only a penny newspaper could never pack the punch of the 21st century’s constantly moving pictures, blaring soundtrack, and more.
Nothing new. Except for the obvious, which I hardly ever seem to hear: That an unregulated, profit-starved media operates with the same guiding principle of a great white shark: all appetite, no conscience. You expect the spotlight-dazed, gratification-obsessed, attention whores like Rush, Beck (and Olbermann, to be fair) to say and do whatever it takes to get attention. What you don’t expect, or deserve, is how the corporate sector will serve to amplify them, and juice the craziness as high and hard as it’ll go.
JFK, RFK, MLK, Oklahoma City, the WTC. What they have in common is large-scale craziness. Seething hatred. Sharkish appetite. And damn, they were all great stories, too.
It’s that last part that makes them so, you know, killer.