As a computer-impaired, aging foreigner living abroad, I still follow U.S. news through CNN as I used to do in the 1990s, and I learned of the latest mass shooting in the U.S. through CNN, as well. The very fist CNN report I stumbled on, disappeared since but still to be found in aggregator sites, for instance here or here, presented the massacre thusly (emphasis mine): "Police scouring the scenes where a couple shouting “revolution” gunned down two police officers and a civilian before killing themselves have found a possible “manifesto” among their belongings, a law enforcement official told CNN on Monday. The official didn’t disclose what’s in the writings found at one of the scenes, and authorities have yet to publicly discuss a motive for Sunday’s shootings at a Las Vegas pizza restaurant and outside a Walmart store. But a police source told CNN on Sunday that the couple held extremist views toward law enforcement. In addition to the writings, investigators also found flags or insignias with markings on them and two backpacks at the scene. It’s not known what, if anything, was found in the backpacks, the source said."
This was just one in a series of CNN stories, almost all sporting the same type of misleading headline; "Two Las Vegas police officers were shot and killed along with a civilian bystander late Sunday morning by a gun-toting duo declaring "revolution," authorities say". "The names of the suspects have not been released, and a motive is not known, but witnesses told police that the shooters said "this is a revolution."" Soon more details emerged: "Killer Las Vegas couple shouted about revolution, posted rants online." At this point, maintained CNN, the motives of the couple was still unclear. One possible reason for the killing? ""They equate government and law enforcement ... with Nazis," Second Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill told reporters Monday". "In other words, they believe that law enforcement is the oppressor." This same helpful law enforcement officer hastened to point out that "We don't necessarily believe that the killers are white supremacists or associated with the Nazi movement. We believe that they equate government and law enforcement with Nazis".
My point? For two full days, CNN called a cat, a dog (no offense meant to either animal); for all intents and purposes, the Las Vegas pair were presented as possible communist radical leftist terrorists, whether they would have liked it or not. Now CNN is not Daily Kos —but how about HuffPost (try here, or here)? And then Greg Sargent over at WaPo, definitely a liberal, took the plunge and asked the following: How much does right-wing rhetoric contribute to right-wing terrorism? Mm, that's a difficult question. How much did Marxist thinkers contribute to the Communist movement? How much did Adam Smith and David Ricardo contribute to classical economics? How much did Dale Carnegie contribute to the spread of dumb self-help manuals? Hard to say, Mr. Sargent, hard to say. Thanks for asking.
The killings took place on Sunday, June 8. I write this on Wednesday, June 11, and the Las Vegas killings have left the headlines. It's wrong —and it's our fault (by "our" I mean the U.S. center left and left, to which I feel some proximity through several of my in-laws). Let me explain — after the squiggle.
Bergdahl is still in the news. Benghazi pops back up regularly. The IRS "scandal" remained in the news for months. Granted, part of it is the result of the MSM being sold out to the Villagers, who spout right-wing common wisdom so unself-consciously one has to wonder whether some reality-altering drug is involved. But the other part is that there is no relentless, seamless, unanimous outrage coming from Democrats and the left generally. Sargent is fairly representative: he made the link between Republican rhetoric and the Las Vegas killers quite late, which was justified since liberals try to be reality-based and therefore cautious, but that link, as presented on the WaPo blog, also came festooned with reservations, qualifications, question marks, and disclaimers, and couched in apologetic terms, as if Sargent was a polite host whispering to a drunken guest about maybe it being time to go in the bedroom and lie down a while.
Where is the condemnation of the Republican Party —yes, all the Republican Party— as an evil, destructive, freedom-hating, bloody, monstrously greedy and selfish organization intent on destroying civilization? Even committed leftwingers will find such denunciation over the top, excessive, counter-productive maybe. Of course I am not saying all Republicans are monsters, etc., at a personal, individual level (for one thing, the majority of my in-laws are Republicans, and even Tea Partiers -it's a complicated family). But we are talking about a political party, and at the collective level, I will argue that every single one of these qualificatives apply. We should be deluging every local neswpaper, website and TV channel with furious letters asking for the resignation of Boehner and McConnell and Priebus, and maybe their being tried for high treason, or at the very least inciting violence. We don't. We are reasonable. We are wrong.
The Republican Party is evil. Its mouthpieces are spouting evil rhetoric, with deadly consequences for actual, living people. The Republican Party kills, maims, starves, spreads madness and despair. So does the NRA, so does the Tea Party, and every single organization funded by it rich backers, but none of the misery generated by these appendices would be possible without the political cover offered by the GOP. It must be said, over and over again. This is not a legitimate debate between reasonable politicians, leading possibly to a compromise agreement. This is an ideological and actual war waged by a group which has lost all rights to claim it can govern a country and a society. Words are used sometimes, sometimes guns. There is no difference: the country club worthy holding forth on Ayn Randish nonsense is as deadly in his own way as the Las Vegas killers and their NRA-approved lethal toys. All these people and organizations are rejecting the basis of a social contract, with not even the excuse of an anarchist's communal ideal as an alternate solution.
And no false equivalence should be tolerated, either. Turn of the century anarchists or Russian nihilists did kill randomly sometimes, but they lived in a much more violent world, and tended to pick higher-ups as their targets. Republicans and Tea Partiers are anarchists and nihilists without the high ideals, without the excuse of widespread social and political violence, and without the least shred of morality in the way they carry out their murders. The current U.S. left has given up on violent tactics, even in self-defense. Even its most radical elements would call for a revolutionary mass movement, but certainly not random killings. The Republican ideology, on the other hand, is evil precisely because it legitimizes the physical destruction of its opponents. The Party of Nixon and the Southern Strategy, of Reagan and his welfare queens, of the Iran-Contra gangsters, of Dick Cheney's lies and thefts and path of destruction the world over, has thrived on dehumanizing its enemies. It started, as always, with African-Americans and the virulent racism at the heart of post-Nixon Republican ideology; it spread, as always, to a whole slew of other groups. It's now in acute, permanent form, and not denouncing it for what it is is criminal negligence.
And this comes back to my original point. The Las Vegas violence was not linked by the MSM to the Republican Party, in part because such a link is rarely made, even on Daily Kos. I went through the 56 diaries mentioning the words "Las Vegas" in the past four days (I may have missed a few; I did my best). One diary made a passing reference to Republican support. Another condemned Republican blindness. Yet another alluded to Congressional Republicans in an adjoined poll. An otherwise excellent analysis of the lack of coverage of Las Vegas on Fox News devoted one sentence to "Republican leaders" as quasi-secessionists, without teasing the larger implications. The GOP was also blamed for its "unleashing" of the white supremacists, which again cast it in the role of second fiddle to a supposedly more extremist wing. Only four diaries clearly placed Republican ideology at the center of their analysis of the Nevada killings. In one case, gun policy was pointed out to be Republican gun policy, but the diary remained narrowly focused on guns. A more general take was offered by Diarist phenry, who pithily explained what I am developing here, though he did not elaborate (and how about replacing "They weren't Nazis" with "They were Republicans"?); silver spring also ably pointed out the Republican link, again in a rather short diary (and again, how about replacing "The Millers: mainstream conservatives" by "The Millers: mainstream Republicans"?). The longest analysis came from chaunceydevega, which focused on Republican white supremacism (not a coincidence; people interested in an African-American point of view have good reason to be attuned to the essential evilness of Republican politics). Overall, the NRA, Fox News, the Tea Party were targeted way more often and more explicitely than the Republican Party itself, though the latter did show up in comments. And the tip-toeing tendency runs deep, and extends even to the fringes: a diary pointing out that the link with Bunkerville justified the use of the term "terrorists" for all involved not only made no mention of the Republican Party, it also included the apologetic line "Of course, that doesn't make the Bundy clan or its followers complicit in this weekend's horror story".
This is deeply wrong. Politically, if not legally (and maybe also legally, if the couple was aided and abetted in any way), of course the Bundys are complicit —and there is a much wider complicity, that of the Republican Party. Rather than having three of four diaries in all making this complicity clear, we should all be keeping up a permanent drumbeat on it: Republican ideology itself is evil. It kills. Literally, physically kills, African-Americans mostly, but also cops, doctors, bystanders — tomorrow it could be you, or me, as Denise Oliver Velez pointed out —again, without mentioning the Republican Party. And if we are loud enough, maybe next time, for there will be a next time, the link between John Boehner or the Koch brothers on one hand and a pair of deadbeats with AR-15s and serious mental problems on the other will not be so easily suppressed. Maybe the headlines will not mention only elements which were ambiguous, a call for a "revolution" which was no revolution at all and the use of swastikas to smear their victims which did not turn the perpetrators into anti-Nazis. Maybe the Las Vegas police will less blithely help gloss over the responsibility of organizations which directly contributed to the deaths of several of their own force. Maybe the Gadsden flag will be called the Tea Party flag, maybe hatred for the government wil be identified as core Republican rhetoric, and maybe the NRA will be presented as a lobbying group advocating law-breaking, cop-killing and general social chaos. Maybe. But at least we should start here and now. Let's call evil by its real name: the Republican Party.
Edit: I removed half a dozen unnecessary epithets (I thought I had avoided insults, defined as personal attacks on individuals, but apparenly was not careful enough).