Archive for January 10th, 2011

You say you want a revolution? You can count me out.

No, you can’t blame the recent tragedy in Tuscon on Sarah Palin.  Or Glenn Beck.   Politicians who use heated rhetoric during their campaigns are not responsible for the actions of one sadly deranged young man.  Roger Ailes over at Fox News did not pull the trigger nor did he put the gun in Jared Loughner’s hand.

It is absolutely  true, that since our country’s beginnings, and not long after the Revolution was over, politicians have been smearing each other.  George Washington refused to have anything to do with his former friend, Thomas Jefferson, after Jefferson engaged in a campaign questioning the President’s intentions and his mental faculties.

What is different about today’s political speech is that there has never been such an abundance of language that invokes violent revolution, at least not since the Civil War.  In fact,  a lot of the talk coming out of the Tea Party not only expresses the ideals and actions of the early American rebels, it is often openly sympathetic with the Southern secessionists of the 1860s.

I think the comparisons are valid.  Long before civil war broke out, all the way back before the Constitutional convention in 1787 ( yet after the Revolution was over)  the language of rebellion was not uncommon in the halls of Congress.  Well before the shelling of Fort Sumter crazed ideologues, of which John Brown was the most notorious, took violent action against the government.  Brown was not a secessionist, though, he was an abolitionist.  The cause of abolition was undoubtedly noble, yet it did not sanction  Brown to take violent action against the U.S. government.

The Tea Party and friends are certainly entitled to criticize their opponents in the government as passionately as they would like.  They should even be encouraged to do so.  A lively and spirited public debate is essential to democracy.  And, of course,  all Americans need to understand that polemical language should not be taken too literally,  But, when such a large, concerted body of people hailing from the mainstream of America consistently use the language of revolution, consistently (and incorrectly) compare themselves to the colonial revolutionaries who founded our country, and consistently label their adversaries in the sitting government as traitors and murderous despots, then it only stands to reason that some of their less inhibited followers may decide to take matters into their own hands.

No matter how much we may be dissatisfied with the direction our country is headed, we are not under the thumb of a distant monarch.  WE have elected our government, our elected representatives are taxing us. No dictator is denying us our freedoms.  No one in the United States government is remotely analogous to Adolph Hitler or Joseph Stalin.  Our President is not an illegal alien Muslim infiltrator who’s plan is to create an American version of the Hitler Youth,  in order to confiscate our guns and seize control of our government.  There are no concentration camps being secretly built by FEMA, there is no secret Bilderbeger conspiracy for one world government  that extends back to Woodrow Wilson.  And so on and so on.

Remember the Boston Massacre of 1770?  Well, British soldiers were not to blame for that event (only 5 Americans were killed, by the way, out of a mob of at least 300).  It was the large, angry mob made up of normally peaceful citizens,  who advanced upon the few frightened soldiers that essentially pulled the triggers on their British muskets.  Today we blame the British for this “massacre” when the true culprits, no matter how noble their cause, were those myopic “patriots”, most not even on the scene,  who riled up the people with their incendiary rhetoric.   Patriots who would later  cry  “Give me liberty or give me death”.  Strong language for their time. Totally inappropriate for ours.

This kind of revolutionary  language today is sadly paranoid and needs to be self-regulated by the Right, before another sad, paranoid American decides that he or she is a 21st century  Minuteman.

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know you can count me out

-the Beatles


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