Yeah, I’m blogging about Tucson. Me and everyone else, right?
It’s interesting and telling that a soon as the Tucson shootings happened the general consensus was to decry the heatedness of contemporary political rhetoric. This was most apparent on the Left, and in the mainstream media—which, while not “Left” in any real sense, is somewhat to the left of the Right on most things that aren’t support of capitalism—but some Righty folks got in on it too, though I can’t find any trace of it now so maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part.
Because, as much as war imagery is common—the Right was surely quick to point out times the Left had used it too—even to the conflation of the two as in that famous Clausewitz quote that “war is politics by other means”--which gets misquoted just as often in reverse--it does seem to have reached a new level sometime in the last few years.
Much has been made of the Palin “target” diagram (since removed from her site despite insistence that they weren’t supposed to look like crosshairs), but it’s only the tip of this iceberg.
After all, “liberal hunting permit” got me 80,000 results on Google Images this morning. It even comes in flavors: this one or this one or this one or this one. Under this metaphor, people on the Left side of the political spectrum are no better than animals, and they're to be shot on sight. The Most Dangerous Game, anyone? Or, you know, The Pest (which, John Leguizamo’s character was obnoxious enough in that thing to make it a more sympathetic proposition).
Of course, liberals aren’t the only thing people want to hunt. Illegal immigrants are popular. Terrorists, too.
Sometimes, the Left and terrorists are even conflated.
But you know what I didn’t find a permit to hunt? Conservatives. The only remotely righty thing I found that people had made a “hunting permit” sticker for was C.E.O.s (couldn’t find a good linkable image, but it’s out there).
People on the Left were angry about Bush. Really, really angry. They called him a war criminal, a terrorist, compared him to Hitler. The images are less findable now that he’s out of office, but they can be dredged up if you look. What they didn’t do was advocate shooting people like him on sight. That’s new. And it’s troubling.
And even if it doesn’t turn out to have had anything to do with Jared Lee Loughner’s shooting rampage (which it looks like it didn’t), we should still take this opportunity to look hard at this development in political rhetoric. ‘cause it’s scary.