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!”
Really, no one can speak with more authority about rhetoric becoming overheated than liberals, based on their conduct during the Bush years. They were calling him BusHitler, denying he could ever have good motives for anything he did, and they were so embroiled in their own hate-filled rhetoric as to place themselves completely outside of reasonable debate. If conservatives ever thought they were becoming like that, it would be a huge eye-opener. So there really is no one better suited to talk to conservatives about the dangers of extreme rhetoric than liberals. It’s like how you have former drug addicts talk about the dangers of drugs, because they personally know the horrors of drug addiction.
Of course, with liberals lately, it’s more like someone who is obviously high coming on stage with a needle sticking out of his arm and smoking pot, saying, “You guys need to stop doing drugs so you can be sober like me, man.” It’s not really convincing anyone. And their ideas on what kind of rhetoric leads to violence seems questionable.
Like, I’ve heard a lot of concern over how Sarah Palin put up a map with crosshairs on all the congressional districts she was targeting for takeover, as if that might lead to violence. Is that based on introspection? Are liberals saying that if they were exposed to the image of crosshairs, they would start hurting people? Or is this once again them saying that something is not true for them but true for everybody else? I’d excuse people if they didn’t trust liberals on their abilities to predict human behavior, because if the left were able to do that, they wouldn’t have been caught so off guard by tea parties forming in the first place.
Also, how can liberals expect to lecture people on overheated rhetoric when they currently seem even crazier and more desperate than they were during the Bush administration? Recently, the spokesman for GEICO lost his job because he was so concerned about overheated rhetoric from the tea parties that he called up FreedomWorks to tell them they are retarded.
What exactly was the best possible outcome he expected from that? Basically, liberals are all starting to believe their own rhetoric about the right being unhinged, and it’s making them unhinged. Joe Klein recently raised the specter of sedition in relation to Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. Soon, we’ll probably hear liberals saying, “Conservatives are becoming just like Nazis! We need to round them up and put them into camps to stop them!”
So, again, the keyword is “introspection.” Liberals have a lot to teach conservatives about the dangers of letting political rhetoric go too far, but they need to have the humility to take an honest look at themselves if they want conservatives to listen. But should conservatives be more introspective before criticizing liberals’ behavior? Of course not; we don’t have time for navel-gazing. What are we? A bunch of hippies?