Who Is the Expert on Extreme Rhetoric?
There really is no one better suited to talk to conservatives about the dangers of extreme rhetoric than liberals.
May 29, 2010 - 12:00 am
Could the overheated rhetoric of tea parties lead to violence? This is apparently a big concern of many liberals these days. Thus, they warn us over and over that we have to watch what we say and how we say it, or people could get hurt.
Bill Clinton recently brought up the Oklahoma City bombing, because if only people hadn’t talked so much about reducing government and hating taxes, Timothy McVeigh would have traded in terrorism for being a gender studies professor. Liberals are concerned for us — concerned for America — and thus they warn and plead with us to calm down before BOOM! — people die. Sure, free speech is great, but if your political views could cause people to kill, you need to watch expressing those views for everyone’s sake.
Conservatives don’t seem be to listening. Perhaps it’s because the left’s message of “You know that rhetoric of yours that is murdering us in the polls? You have to stop it, because theoretically it could lead to violence” just seems a wee bit opportunistic.
I’m sure liberals will object and say this is a real concern and that they honestly think all the tea party anger could lead to violence, and I’ll take them at their word on that. But right now, all I see are all the liberals nodding along in perfect agreement, saying, “Conservatives do need to calm down,” but that doesn’t really achieve anything. So if they really are worried about extreme rhetoric leading to violence, then they need to specifically tailor their message to actually be something conservatives would listen to, and that wouldn’t just be more liberal ego-stroking. And the key to that: introspection.
You can’t really know what someone else is thinking, so talk of other people’s motivation is always guessing to a certain extent. But every person knows what he himself is thinking; that can be said with authority. Thus, with a bit of introspection mixed in, I think conservatives would listen more to a liberal’s warning about over-heated rhetoric than we would even listen to a fellow conservative on the subject.
How? Think of the powerful message that liberals could deliver:
“Conservatives, your rhetoric is completely over the top. It is destructive. Know how bad it is? It reminds us of ourselves during the Bush years. That’s right: If you keep this up, you could wind up JUST LIKE US!”
Wow. Conservatives would sit up and listen to that message. They’d be crying, “You mean we could be screaming in mindless protests, waving giant papier-mâché puppets around? I don’t even know how to do papier-mâché! Please help us stop!”