Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Hysteria Beat (Ava and C.I.)

Maybe some people shouldn't write? We're not saying they don't have the right to write, we're just saying maybe they should do the country a favor and not write?

We're aware that many would feel that way about us to which we say, "End the Iraq War tomorrow and you never have to here from us again. " But we've never, ever attempted to use someone's tragedy to push our own agenda. We are aware some do, on the right and on the left. Many more Americans have the common sense to not try to hijack a tragedy for their own political reasons.

Corrente, one of the few sites that you can still comfortably go after the 2008 split in the Democratic Party, posted one of the nuttiest things we've ever read. No surprise, it came from Stirling Newberry -- an overpraised blogger so, naturally, we're talking about a man.

He's also a man who, increasingly, appears to be a bit high strung, to say the least. That's the sort of person who, for example, would write a blog post entitled "The Truth, an Open Letter on Why This America, and This Left, Are Doomed." Yesterday, he topped that with "Attempted Assassination of Congresswoman Giffords in Arizona." Disclosure, we both know US House Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Newberry and, in the comments, Lambert seem to argue that a service has been provided by Newberry's rantings.

Seriously? A service? Such as information?

Strange because information would include names. We've already named Gabrielle Giffords. Despite using 1186 words -- and, in fact, using her family's tragedy, Newberry can't be bothered with informing readers of her first name and, no, she was not on the same recognition level of national fame as the Director of Homeland Security or a Republican vice presidential candidate before the attack yesterday.


Jake Sherman, Jonathan Allen and Molly Ball (Politico) report
that six people were shot dead in the Tuscon, Arizona assault in which Gabrielle was wounded and that among the dead are Gabe Zimmeran who worked for Gabrielle, Federal District Judge John Roll, and a nine-year-old girl. MSNBC lists the 9-year-old as Christina Taylor Greene and identifies the other three: 76-year-old Dorwin Stoddard, 76-year-old Dorthy Murray and 79-year-old Phyllis Scheck. MSNBC lists two of the other eleven injured as Pam Simon and Ron Barber. Now none of that is in Stirling's 'informative' post. None of these people matter to Newberry as evidenced by the fact that he can't name any.

To Newberry, it's all about the right wing. And for many, many loony and fact-free paragraphs, he tells you how the right-wing caused Saturday's violence. Seriously? Shailagh Murray and Sari Horwitz are real reporters and, reporting for The Washington Post, they note important details: "Police said they think that Giffords was the target of the attack. [. . .] It was unclear what might have motivated the suspect, identified as 22-year-old Jared Loughner." So there's a suspect and no one knows what motivated the attack?

And yet Newberry contributes 1186 angry words attacking Republicans and somehow thinks his brand of crazy helps?

In a piece allegedly on violence and a violent culture, two ongoing wars and the drone attacks killing civilians in Pakistan are never raised. But it's really not about exploring a violent culture, it's about whipping up everyone into a frenzy.

Blind cries of do-something, politicians given the go-ahead to crackdown on rights and liberties. How very sad that Corrente would publish this nonsense.

Frenzy and hysteria crack down on political speech throughout this country's history. One example, from Chris Hedges' Death Of The Liberal Class:

[President Woodrow] Wilson easily pushed through draconian laws to squelch dissent, but he hardly needed to have bothered. Congress passed the Espionage Act in 1917, which criminalized not only espionage but also speech deemed critical of the government. Wilson had hoped to include a provision for direct censorship of newspapers, but Congress denied his request. Next year Congress passed an amendment, known as the Seditious Act, that made it a crime to use "disloyal" or "profane" language that could encourage contempt for the Constitution or the flag. The Espionage Act and the Sedition Act became the coarse legal tools used by the Wilson administration to silence isolated progressives and the dwindling populist forces that questioned the war. Postmaster General Albert Burleson, empowered by the Espionage Act, cancelled the special mailing privileges of journals he condemned as unpatriotic, instantly hiking their postal rates and putting about a hundred out of business. A few thousand people, including the Socialist politician Eugene Debs, were arrested for their continued denunciation of the war and calls for draft resistance and strikes. Debs was imprisoned after making an antiwar speech in Canton, Ohio, in June 1918. The Washington Post wrote after his sentencing that "Debs is a public menace, and the country will be better off with him behind bars." Debs spent more than two years in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary until President Warren Harding commuted his sentence on Christmas Day 1921. Vigilante groups, roused by the enflamed war propaganda and nationalist call to arms, physically attacked and at times lynched war opponents.

As long as Newberry's pointing the finger at people using their free speech rights, maybe he should ponder how posts like "The Truth, an Open Letter on Why This America, and This Left, Are Doomed" might cause despair and lead the frustrated and impotent to a path of violence?

Ideas and language are the new weapons? Is that what's going to be argued next?

Only if Americans are stupid enough to fall into that trap.

A tragedy's taken place. A shooting has led to multiple deaths and many wounded. That's what's known. Probably a good thing to leave tea leaf reading to the psychics. Or do we not remember the last attempt to whip up hysteria over a death?

For those who have forgotten, a census worker died, Bill Sparkman. Rachel Maddow and the MSNBC Brigade joined in telling the world that this was the work of right-wing fanatics and much more.

Bob Somerby (Daily Howler) repeatedly cautioned against making snap judgments. "But," as Lindsey Buckingham sings in Fleetwood Mac's "Walk A Thin Line," "no one was listening." Too bad for them. From Sombery's November 25, 2009 piece:

This morning's newspapers describe a sad story, involving the death of census worker Bill Sparkman.

Kentucky state police have concluded that Sparkman’s death was, in fact, a suicide. (This finding was foreshadowed several weeks ago.) The Washington Post’s report includes some facts the New York Times was too decorous to mention, although the Times lays out some basic facts about the investigation too. "Witnesses told investigators that Sparkman had discussed ending his life," the Post reports. And this: "Before his death, Sparkman also secured two life insurance policies, totaling $600,000, that would not pay out for suicide."

Assuming the state police are right, Sparkman’s death is a very sad story. Even sadder? The use our tribe hoped to make of his death -- they way we shrieked and wailed with joy at the way his death first appeared.

According to the state police, Sparkman had written the word "FED" on his own chest, hoping to fool some rubes into thinking he'd been murdered by some anti-government local. If the state police are right, the rubes he fooled are us.

As you may recall, the "liberal" world leaped into action at the first report of Sparkman's death. Rachel Maddow showcased her lack of experience -- and her relentless upper-class tribal hatred-- throwing away the start of her program to report the thrilling non-news. (She promised that she'd break in again if anything else developed that night.) As we all surely know, people like Maddow prayed to their God that Sparkman had been murdered by some anti-government nut-case. They wanted this so they could then slime all members of the opposite tribe (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/25/09).

We liberals shrieked with delight, dreaming of the future slimings we could pursue -- for the good of the nation, of course. We had no idea what had happened. But we gave vent to our dreams.

Because yes: For decades, a large amount of "liberal" politics had really been tribal hatred. This helps explain why there's nothing resembling a progressive politics in this benighted, laughing-stock nation. In all honesty, pseudo-liberals are in this game so we can vent at the unwashed masses -- at the tea-b**ers, the redneck racists, the people whose limbic brains don't work right.

Is Stirling Newberry really reporting? No. Is he contributing any new ideas regarding the culture of violence? No. But he is pounding the tribal drums and using the dead and the injured to do so. When no one knows what motivated the suspect, Newberry's self-stroking in public, exposing his own perversions. It's disgusting.

While Newberry uncorked the crazy, US Vice President Joe Biden issued a statement that said all that needed to be said:

The horrific attack in Tucson, Arizona, this morning has taken the lives of at least five people, including a federal judge and a young girl, and left many others wounded, among them a dear friend, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Gabby is one of the finest members of Congress I know. She is a principled leader and a consensus-builder. She has spent her time in office working her heart out to improve the lives of the people she represents. And she loves her husband and family above all else. On this tragic day, Jill and I are praying for Gabby’s recovery, and we hold her family in our hearts.

Chief Judge John Roll was a dedicated jurist whose death is a terrible loss to Arizona and to the country.

We do not yet know the motivation behind these shootings. But what we do know is that there is simply no justification, no rationale for such senseless and appalling violence in our society.

Please join Jill and me in praying for each of today’s victims and for their families and loved ones.

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