The Wrath of Fools: An Open Letter to the Far Right


The Wrath of Fools: An Open Letter to the Far Right

Monday 10 January 2011

by: William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

William Rivers Pitt | The Wrath of Fools: An Open Letter to the Far Right
(Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)

To:       Palin-lovers, Fox “News,” the “mainstream” media, and the Far Right, et al.

From: William Rivers Pitt

Date:   Monday 10 January 2011

Re:       The blood on your hands

Dear “Patriots,”

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords isn’t much older than I am. She served in the Arizona State House of Representatives, and the Arizona State Senate, before being elected to three successive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. She once described herself as a “former Republican,” and is today considered a “Blue Dog” Democrat, meaning she holds a number of conservative political positions. This is not terribly surprising, given the generally conservative political bent of the state she has served for the last ten years. She was married four years ago to a space shuttle commander who had served as a Naval aviator, and who flew 39 combat missions in Desert Storm, before volunteering for astronaut training.

Last Wednesday, she was sworn in to her third term as the Representative for Arizona’s 8th congressional district. One of her first acts in the newly-minted 112th Congress was to read aloud from the House floor, in response to the Republican Party’s recitation of the Constitution, the following lines: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

She returned to Arizona not long after to assist in the implementation of that most vital of Constitutional principles, calling together a meeting of her constituents in a peaceable assembly so the citizens she represents could petition the government for a redress of grievances. Among the gathered crowd were a number of her staffers, a judge, and a nine-year-old girl named Christina-Taylor Green who was born on September 11, 2001.

And then all Hell broke loose.

A man named Jared Lee Loughner waded into the group and fired a bullet into Rep. Giffords’ skull at point-blank range, before turning his weapon on others in the crowd. Christina-Taylor Greene, who would have celebrated her tenth birthday on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, was shot in the chest and killed. The woman who brought her to the event was also shot. Gabriel Zimmerman, who served as Rep. Giffords’ director of community outreach, was also killed. He was 30 years old, and was recently engaged to be married. U.S. District Judge John Roll, who had served on the bench for twenty years, was also killed. Dorwin Stoddard, a church volunteer, died after putting his body between his wife and the hail of bullets. His wife was also shot. Two of Rep. Giffords’ constituents, Dorothy Morris and Phyllis Scheck, were also killed. All in all, 31 shots were fired before several brave souls tackled Loughner, disarmed him, and wrestled him to the ground.

At the time of this writing, Rep. Giffords is lying in a hospital bed in critical condition. The God you Bible-spewing frauds love to flog the rest of us with must have been in that supermarket crowd with her on Saturday, with His hand on her shoulder, because it is nothing short of a full-fledged miracle she survived at all. Doctors are actually cautiously optimistic that she will survive, though the degree to which she will ultimately recover is still sorely in doubt. She can respond to simple commands, according to her doctors, and is marginally able to communicate. If she survives her wound, it is wretchedly certain her life will never, ever be the same.

I just thought you should know a few things about the people you helped into their graves and hospital beds this weekend.

Yes, you.

You false patriots who bring assault rifles to political rallies, you hack politicians and media personalities who lied through your stinking teeth about “death panels” and “Obama is coming for your guns” and “He isn’t a citizen” and “He’s a secret Muslim” and “Sharia Law is coming to America,” you who spread this bastard gospel and you who swallowed it whole, I am talking to you, because this was your doing just as surely as it was the doing of the deranged damned soul who pulled the trigger.  The poison you injected into our culture is deeply culpable for this carnage.

You who worship Jesus at the top of your lungs (in defiance of Christ’s own teachings on the matter of worship, by the way) helped put several churchgoers into their graves and into the hospital. You who shriek about the sanctity of marriage helped cut down a man who was about to be married. You who crow with ceaseless abandon about military service and the nobility of our fighting forces helped to critically wound the wife of a Naval aviator who fought for you in a war. You who hold September 11 as your sword and shield helped put a little girl born on that day into the ground.

You helped. Yes, damn you, you helped.

The “mainstream” media is already working overtime playing up the “Disturbed loner” angle with all their might. There is no doubt, from the available evidence, of Mr. Loughner’s transformation into a disturbed individual. But here’s the funny part: all the crazy crap he spewed, about the gold standard (a favorite of Glenn Beck, the master of Fox “News” fearmongering…so he can sell his gold scam to suckers) and government mind control and everything else before going on his rampage, is straight out of the Right-Wing Insanity Handbook. His personal YouTube ramblings were a mishmash of right-wing anti-government nonsense…the kind that attracts sick minds like Loughner, the kind that only reinforces their paranoia, the kind that finally pushes them over the brink and into the frenzy of violence that took place on Saturday.  The kind that the likes of you have been happily spreading by the day.

He did not act alone. You were right there with him. You helped.

I’m talking to you, “mainstream” media people, who created this atmosphere of desperate rage and total paranoia out of whole cloth because of your unstoppable adoration for spectacle, and ratings, and because the companies that own your sorry asses agree with the deranged cretins you helped make so famous and powerful. It was sickeningly amusing on Sunday to watch Wolf Blitzer bluster and bluff on CNN about how the media owns no responsibility for this disaster. It was like watching a ten-year-old try to explain how a lamp got broken while he was running through the living room, but no, it wasn’t him. It was, in reality, a pathetic display…but that is what you generally get whenever Wolf is on your screen.

“Mainstream” news personalities like David Gergen and John King bent over backwards warning people not to blame Sarah Palin and her ilk for this calamity.  It was a sick man who did this, they said. Bollocks to that.  I hate to break this to the “mainstream” media know-betters, but words matter.  When people like Palin spray the airwaves with calls to violence and incantations of imminent doom, people like Loughner are listening, and prepared to act. The “mainstream” media lets it fly without any questions or rebuttal, because it’s good for ratings, and here we are. Words matter. Play Russian Roulette long enough, and someone inevitably winds up dead.

Remember the run-up to the Iraq invasion, and the subsequent occupation? “WMD everywhere, al Qaeda connections to 9/11, plastic sheeting and duct tape because we’re all gonna die!” was the central theme of the majority of your broadcast schedule for years…until it was all proven to be a lie.  You helped the liars, you were the liars, but you knew that.  You also got your spectacle, and the corporations that own you got paid a king’s ransom, so everyone was happy, except the dead.

Tell me this is any different, I dare you.  For the spectacle, the ratings and the pleasure of your owners, you ran names like “Sarah Palin” across the sky in lights, even after she should have faded into well-deserved obscurity, and helped this blister of right-wing rage fester until it finally burst. This was your show, and in perhaps the most wretched irony of all, I would bet all my worldly possessions that your ratings are through the roof right now. You got what you wanted.  I hope you are pleased.

And yes, I’m talking to you, Sarah Palin, you unutterably disgusting fraud. You pulled it off your ridiculous website, but it’s out there: you put cross-hairs – literally, cross-hairs – on Rep. Giffords, you blithered about “reloading” instead of “retreating,” and you made this country more stupid and violent with every breath you took. Well, congratulations, you failure, you quitter, you inciter of mobs. You put the cross-hairs on her, and someone finally pulled the trigger. Run from it all you like, Lady MacBeth, but this blood will never be washed from your hands.

I’m talking to you, Sharron Angle, you walking punch-line, who talked about “Second Amendment remedies” being necessary if you didn’t get your way on health care reform during your failed Senate campaign.

I’m talking to you, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly, and Michael Savage, and Ann Coulter, and Laura Ingraham, and to every other right-wing tripe-spewing blowhard blogger and Fox News broadcaster. I hope you are proud of yourselves, because this is the day you get to reap what you have been relentlessly sowing since you were forced to encompass the unmitigated outrage of a Black man winning the office of President of the United States.

That’s right, I said it. Anyone who thinks good old-fashioned American bigotry and racism are not the core motivation for a vast majority of these so-called “revolutionaries” should get their heads examined. You’ve heard of the “elephant in the middle of the room?” Well, this is the burning cross in the middle of the room, and no amount of spin will douse those flames.

I’m talking to you, Koch Brothers. Your money to create and spread this disease was well-spent; you now have one less Democrat in the House to worry about, at least for the foreseeable future. Congratulations, you un-American sacks of filth.

And I’m talking to each and every one of you who listened to these traitors and believed the nonsense they spewed at you for no other reason than to pick your pockets for campaign/organization contributions. I’m talking to you who wore your silly fatigues and carried your badly-spelled fact-deprived signs to protests with pistols on your hips and rifles on your shoulders. You who threw bricks through the windows of politicians you disagreed with. You who shot out the windows of Rep. Giffords’ office not even a year ago.

You worked very hard to create exactly this atmosphere in America, and now it has come to be. We have entered the age of the Wrath of Fools, and we now must again exist in an America where the word “assassination” has become all too relevant.

You helped this happen. You.

You know it. I know it. Have the guts to admit it, even if only to yourselves.

I know many Republicans and conservatives, and consider them to be dear friends. The single most influential person in my life (aside from my mother) was a rock-ribbed conservative Republican, and there is no person I respected more than him. I do not count these people, and those like them, among those whom I address here. They are as sickened and repulsed by you as I am.

This is not the end of the story, but is just the beginning. The good people of the United States of America, the true patriots, have finally seen you with your media-painted masks ripped off. They have seen what comes to pass when hate, venom, ignorance and violence goes unchecked and unanswered. You have been exposed, and the fact that it took such an unimaginably horrific act for that exposure to take place only increases the fierceness with which you will be answered. You will be repudiated, not with violence, but with the scorn and rejection you so richly deserve.  Spin it as you will, scramble all you like. You are found out, and you have nowhere to hide.

Oh, P.S., if anyone reading this is operating under the delusion that the overheated right-wing rhetoric that went a long way towards almost getting Rep. Giffords killed, and had a strong hand in putting six people in the ground, is some sort of new Obama-era phenomenon, well…

“I tell people don’t kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus – living fossils – so we will never forget what these people stood for.”

Rush Limbaugh, Denver Post, 12-29-95

“Get rid of the guy. Impeach him, censure him, assassinate him.”

Rep. James Hansen (R-UT), talking about President Clinton

“We’re going to keep building the party until we’re hunting Democrats with dogs.”

Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), Mother Jones, 08-95

“My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building.”

Ann Coulter, New York Observer, 08-26-02

“We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors.”

Ann Coulter, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, 02-26-02

“Chelsea is a Clinton. She bears the taint; and though not prosecutable in law, in custom and nature the taint cannot be ignored. All the great despotisms of the past – I’m not arguing for despotism as a principle, but they sure knew how to deal with potential trouble – recognized that the families of objectionable citizens were a continuing threat. In Stalin’s penal code it was a crime to be the wife or child of an ‘enemy of the people.’ The Nazis used the same principle, which they called Sippenhaft, ‘clan liability.’ In Imperial China, enemies of the state were punished ‘to the ninth degree’: that is, everyone in the offender’s own generation would be killed and everyone related via four generations up, to the great-great-grandparents, and four generations down, to the great-great-grandchildren, would also be killed.”

John Derbyshire, National Review, 02-15-01

“Two things made this country great: White men & Christianity. The degree these two have diminished is in direct proportion to the corruption and fall of the nation. Every problem that has arisen (sic) can be directly traced back to our departure from God’s Law and the disenfranchisement of White men.”

State Rep. Don Davis (R-NC), emailed to every member of the North Carolina House and Senate, reported by the Fayetteville Observer, 08-22-01

I could go on, and on, and on, and on, but you get the gist.

Most Disrespectfully Yours,
William Rivers Pitt

The Becking of Gabrielle Giffords


At Talk to Action, the veteran watcher of white supremacist and anti-semitic groups Chip Berlet writes, The Becking of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. An excerpt:

From a moral viewpoint Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is the victim of demagogues such as Glenn Beck and his allies at Fox News and in the Tea Party Movement. This is not about legal liability but about moral culpability. This is about a nation that has lost its moral compass.Some of us progressive writers have been warning about this dangerous trend for several years. This includes my colleagues Fred Clarkson, David Neiwert, Sara Robinson, John Amato, Adele Stan, and others. We blame right-wing demagogues like Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter and a culture that tolerates their vicious targeting of scapegoats. 

Now the shootings have created a new word floating across cyberspace: “becking.” To be “becked” is to be held up as such an evil and destructive person that someone, somewhere, will interpret it as a call to eliminate that problem through violence.

I made similar assertions after the murder of Dr. Tiller in a post at Religion Dispatches, “Who Will Rid Me of This Troublesome Doctor?”: Bill O’Reilly, King Henry II, and George Tiller” Here is what I wrote then:

On the day Dr. Tiller died, May 31, 2009, Gabrielle Winant on Salon traced O’Reilly’s relentless campaign against the murdered doctor. Winant wrote that some of O’Reilly’s characterizations of Tiller replicated “ancient conservative, paranoid stories: a decadent, permissive and callous elite tolerates moral monstrosities that every common-sense citizen just knows to be awful. Conspiring against our folk wisdom, O’Reilly says, the sophisticates have shielded Tiller from the appropriate, legal consequences for his deeds.”

So, concludes Winant: “O’Reilly didn’t tell anyone to do anything violent, but he did put Tiller in the public eye, and help make him the focus of a movement with a history of violence against exactly these kinds of targets.”

The analysts at Media Matters for America have been forcefully arguing the case against the “Emerging Culture of Paranoia” and the role of “Right-Wing Media” in fostering a toxic climate in which violence is more likely. Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert, who suggested after the Tiller murder that “O’Reilly and Fox News will have more right-wing vigilantism to explain,” selected some of O’Reilly’s most egregious statements demonizing Dr. Tiller. …

Hannah Arendt described the process of demagoguery leading to violence as it occurs in totalitarian regimes ranging from Hitler to Stalin. The demagogue frames the target, but leaves off a direct call for violence. But the message is clear. Unstable people often act first. Political ideologues, however, can be mobilized as the process continues to act as a group. Sara Robinson and I have been tracking the number of political murders since the inauguration of President Barack Obama. [See link below].

The people who “becked” Rep. Gabrielle Giffords began with a premise of dualism or Manicheaism, and then constructed a frame that uses demonization, scapegoating, and conspiracism to divide the world into a good ‘us’ and a bad ‘them’. …

Following the shooting of Rep. Giffords we once again heard calls for civility and pundits pointing out that hateful rhetoric is aimed at Republicans and conservatives by Democrats and their lefty allies. This is true, and I do object to liberals who hurl buckets of mud as we on the left are being buried in an avalanche of shit from right-wing demagogues with national television and radio programs, websites, and newspaper columns. The comparison is true in the manipulated facts yet false in the claim of equivalence.

Peter Daou writes about the bogus equivalency between right/left extremism in his post Gabriel Giffords and the rightwing hate machine.”The targeting of political scapegoats in our nation today is overwhelmingly coming from the Political Right. To claim otherwise is a lie easily debunked by even a modicum of research. A big lie. …

We who must speak out are not faced with death here in our nation this week. We are faced with our visage in a moral mirror looking back at our conscience which is telling us that we must speak out against the crescendo of totalitarian demagoguery. We must oppose the becking of our society.

How many more must die before we wake up and put a stop to this terrible trend?

Another important read on this subject is the 18-month-old Tragedy At The Holocaust Museum: Stand Up To Terrorism by Sara Robinson.

See also Marta Evry’s The “Becking” Of America: How Right-Wing Media and Politicians Incite Violence at Venice for Change.

Ever-Rising Right Wing Extremism & Terrorisim


Right Wing Terrorism on the Rise!!!

ARE THEY SERIOUS????? 

Jared Lee Loughner shot and wounded United States Congsswoman Gabrielle Giffords and twelve others and killed Federal Judge John McCarthy Roll and six others outside a Safeway in Tucson early Saturday, January Eighth, 2011.

Giffords had beaten the teabagger candidate, Jesse Kelly, to win her third term as a representative. Gabrielle Giffords’ office was also vandalized in March, just after health care reform was approved. Why is this important? Last March, Mike Vanderboegh boasted about his call to throw bricks through the local offices of representatives who voted for Health Care Reform. This message struck such a chord that he was invited to speak at the Open Carry rally in April. He’s trying to backpedal now, making the patently ridiculous claim that his call to violence was actually an action against this type of violence, but he’s trying to shove toothpaste back into the tube.

Giffords was also the member of Congress who read the First Amendment during the reading of the Constitution this past Thursday. Fate is not without a sense of irony.

Victim 9 yr old Christina Taylor Greene 

Judge Roll was the target of a barrage of death threats in 2009, after he had ruled that a group of illegal immigrants could proceed with a multi-million dollar civil rights lawsuit against a state rancher. Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords’ aide and a nine-year old child who had recently been elected president of her school’s student council were also amongst the dead.

Loughner’s Youtube rants are–at best– incoherent and rambling; they display some of the same rudderless and agitated rhetoric that typified early missives from Francis E. Dec, who was suffering from a degenerating form of paranoid schizophrenia. He also posted a similarly rambling screed online, which can be read here.

Loughner apparently retains enough of his mental capabilities to invoke his right against self-incrimination, so we must wait for word on his motivations before we discover if he is “just another kook” or a symptom of something deeper. It is, however, not too much of a stretch to observe the connection between Loughner’s acts and the pathology of violence than infects the right wing.

This is a fine place to reprint a common sentiment around the ‘net today: If all muslims are branded as terrorists due to the acts of a tiny minority, why is it when white conservatives repeatedly do it, it’s just the act of lone nuts?

Right Wing Terrorist Supporter Heads Homeland Security


The Republican congressman who supported terrorism

Why Peter King is the right man to probe terrorism

Reuters/Chip East
Peter King

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., is set to assume the chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee in January, and today comes the news that he intends to launch an investigation of “radicalization” among American Muslims.

In some perverse sense, King, who has represented part of Long Island in Congress since 1993, may be just the man for the job: He spent years openly supporting the terrorist Irish Republican Army.

The journalist Alex Massie has ably documented King’s history with the IRA, a group that he did not break with until 2005: 

In the 1980s, he was a prominent fundraiser for Noraid, the Irish-American organization that raised money for the IRA and was suspected of running guns to Ulster, too. Indeed, King’s rise to prominence within the Irish-American movement was predicated upon his support for the IRA at a time when New Yorkers were softer on terrorism than they are now. Noraid helped win King his seat in Congress, making him, in some respects, the terrorists’ Man in Washington. …

In 1982 he told a pro-IRA rally in Nassau County, New York, that “We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.” That same year, an IRA bomb killed eight people in London’s Hyde Park. Two years later, the IRA almost succeeded in murdering the British prime minister.

If “IRA” were replaced with “Hamas,” the sort of fundraising King did would these days earn you a lengthy prison sentence for material support for terrorism.

Ironically, King has since emerged as the member of Congress perhaps most willing to toss around the “terrorism” label; he recently called for the designation to be extended to WikiLeaks. A few years ago, he also made the ludicrous claim that “80-85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists.” After Sept. 11, he floated the idea of using “tactical nuclear weapons” in Afghanistan.

In another literary twist in the tale, when King did finally break with the IRA in 2005, it was over his frustration with the lack of Irish support for the American invasions of two Muslim countries, Iraq and Afghanistan. King’s fear of Muslim terrorism had finally overwhelmed his support for Irish terrorism. 

  • Justin Elliott is a Salon reporter. Reach him by email at jelliott@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin More: Justin Elliott