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In the latest bout of political madness in America, someone sent letters laced with the deadly poison ricin to President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg and the gun control organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Even more disturbingly, violence or the threat of violence as a means of expression has been growing steadily in our nation.

I will leave it to the sociologists to figure out whether race has anything to do with this, but one thing is for certain: there has been a definite spike in political militancy since President Obama took office in 2009, and a lot of it has come from the right. From Sarah Palin's bullseyes over Democrats on Facebook, the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, and a bizarre joke cracked by a Tea Partier about assassinating a Senator, to poisoned letters to advocates of gun control, we are witnessing an unhealthy shift in our society -- from civilized discourse to caveman behavior.

Part of this is due to a deliberate misreading of our history. The far right, and especially the Tea Party, would like us to believe that they embody the spirit of the American Revolution, but they conveniently ignore the fact that the Revolution was fought for the right to free ourselves from a foreign power and establish our own nation, not to achieve anarchy. By contrast, the goal of so-called revolutionaries today is not self-determination but no determination -- and that is more sedition than revolution.

Moreover, if we look at the political climate after the American Revolution, even the staunchest supporters of Republican principles, such as Thomas Jefferson, were very far removed in tone and substance from the right-wing leaders of today. Sure, there was militant rhetoric back then too, but it was more satirical than serious and more an affectation of the times than dangerous. Had it not been that way, in fact, our nation would never have cohered and survived as a Union into the 19th century.

But then such nuances do not fit into the far right narrative or preferred modus operandi, which is to bully opponents into submission, and so have been excised from the platform. This is yet another reason for the rise of violence in American politics: people who cannot defend their beliefs through sensible debate are being urged to respond with threats and intimidation instead. We saw this during the battle over Obamacare, we saw it during the midterm elections, and we are witnessing it again over gun control.

This must stop, and the leaders on the right should take responsibility for roiling up the pot. I am not accusing them of pulling the trigger themselves, but when they create an environment of anger and hate, inflame passions beyond reason, and encourage their followers to take on the government in the name of 'revolution', they are encouraging the people who do commit violence. That is not patriotism and it's certainly not revolution.

That is just poisoned politics.

SANJAY SANGHOEE is a political and business commentator. He has worked at leading investment banks and a hedge fund and is the author of "Killing Wall Street" (Perseus Books). For more information, please visit


Is America becoming a more Violent Nation?

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| 28 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  please leave anarchy out of your discussion (5+ / 0-)

    it is not what the right is doing or talking about, and isn't a synonym for violence and chaos. it's an actual political philosophy that has played a role in several social movements in american history.

    •  Exactly right (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OutcastsAndCastoffs, Urizen, Lowgun

      Anarchism is not disorganization and violence, but rather a society organized bottom up, rather than top down, and is horizontal, rather than a vertical hierarchy, which is as far removed from American tea-partyism as one can get.

      And terms such as as anarcho-capitalism and American style "libertarianism" are oxymorons. Libertarianism and anarchism still mean anti-capitalist libertarian socialism in Europe:

      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

      by ZhenRen on Sun Jun 02, 2013 at 01:50:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks. This is the second diary today to do this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ZhenRen, Urizen

      The author there was kind enough to change the title after objections were raised to the misuse of "anarchy."

      A suggestion to diary authors: use "chaos" or maybe "nihilism."

      For others less informed than wu ming:

      Anarchism is a political philosophy that is egalitarian and anti-authoritarian.  Its foundation is a positive view of human nature that views us as possessing tendencies toward mutual aid and peaceful self-governance that enable us to have a society not based on hierarchies.  Adherents include Emma Goldman, Noam Chomsky, David Graeber, Peter Kropotkin and Michael Bakunin.

  •  Compared to what? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sanghoee, Generic Democrat

    The Civil War eclipsed anything that's happening today.

    Government air strikes on citizens go back to the Battle of Blair Mountain.

    The civil rights movement had to deal with worse things than poisoned letters.

    I forget if it was the 50s or the 60s but my hometown police department defused a plot by far-right "anti-Communist" types to shoot up and take over the police station. Such people are more visible now that there's an Internet but there's nothing new about them.

    The other difference is that the bullies have a TV network now.

    The truly weird thing about what's happening now is that the anarchy promoted by the people in bunkers would be very, very bad for the rich people who wield so much power on the Right.

    Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

    by Dogs are fuzzy on Sun Jun 02, 2013 at 01:10:39 PM PDT

  •  Today's Tea Party Represents the Corporate Owners (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    whose tea the first party threw into the harbor. It's a perfectly chosen name by the opposite-speak party.

    Of course this is poisoned politics. Their intention is to bring most politics to a close.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jun 02, 2013 at 02:06:55 PM PDT

  •  You make one big mistake. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CroneWit, DavidMS, BlueEyed In NC
    but they conveniently ignore the fact that the Revolution was fought for the right to free ourselves from a foreign power and establish our own nation, not to achieve anarchy.
    It wasn't a foreign power. They were rebelling against the head of their own government.

    Look, the right wing has forgotten that the whole "Church Of England" meant that the lutherans and protestants and anabaptists and catholics and puritans were basically getting the shaft from their own "christian" government, hence that little beauty of an idea called separation of church and state.

    And left wing folks like yourself have forgotten that the people here in the americas were subjects of the english crown, they HAD a government and it was giving them the shaft, hence that little dustup where they were rebelling against THEIR OWN government who had agents and offices and a bureaucracy right here - not across the ocean.

    If you'd like the right wing to remember the reasons for things like separation of church and state then you have a corresponding obligation to remember things such as the fact that george washington was taking up arms against his own government.

    Now get yourself a song to sing, and sing it till you're done.

    by JayFromPA on Sun Jun 02, 2013 at 02:14:02 PM PDT

  •  Once unleashed, anarchy can't be controlled... (0+ / 0-)

    Fox and right wingers are currently doing their very best to stir the population to rise and fight government in order to remove Obama from power...

    What they forget is that once such anarchy movement would get enough traction and power to achieve just that, even Fox and right wingers wouldn't be able to control the anarchy crowd!

    Just think Robespierre in the French Revolution history...

  •  The 1960s were much more violent (0+ / 0-)

    both at the level of the political elite and at the level of street demonstrations. There is nothing around today like the Weather Underground or the Third World Liberation Front of the 70s. And don't forget the terrorism of the anti-abortion movement and the fascist right of the 1990s.

    Another note: The right wingers are pitifully educated. I have met several who believe that there was a pre-existing tyrannical federal government, and that the Constitution was enacted to control the federal government. It seems to be a widespread article of faith with them.
       When I ask what the Founding Fathers founded, if not the government, they draw a blank.

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