Hatemongers like Kender, Big Dog, Jay Stephenson, and Misha often express their wish that someone whose politics they do not like should be killed. Most often, the targets of this eliminationist rhetoric are marked for death because they hold political views at the liberal end of the spectrum. And this sort of mindless rage is more and more finding its way into the mainstream media.
It seems that the merchants of hate have gotten their wish:
In Tennessee this weekend, the chickens came home to roost when a gunman named James David Adkisson walked into a Universalist Unitarian Church and began shooting. So far, two people are dead, and seven more were wounded. He was saying “hateful things,” according to all the news reports.
Now, MSNBC is reporting this morning that Adkisson targeted the church because of its liberal politics. A four-page letter police recovered, according to Knoxville police officials, referred constantly to his “stated hatred for the liberal movement.”
Right-wingers love to “joke” about mowing down, rounding up, and otherwise “wiping out” all things liberal. It’s become a standard feature of conservative-movement rhetoric. And whenever anyone calls them on it, they have a standard response: “Aw, c’mon—it’s just a joke!”
In reality, of course, rhetoric like this has historically played a critical role in some of the ugliest episodes in American history, as well as thousands of little acts of xenophobic brutality: functionally speaking, it gives violent—and frequently unstable—actors permission to act on these impulses. People like this always believe they’re standing up for what “real Americans” think—and the jokes tell them that this is so.
Naturally, as David Neiwert goes on to explain, those who have pushed the eliminationist rhetoric into the mainstream will disclaim all responsibility for their part in setting the stage for such attacks. Fleeing from personal responsibility for one’s words and actions is a hallmark of the far-right fringe.