Revenge of the Little People

His listeners spice up the chat with much more colorful commentary, however.  While not straying into areas of violence, there is a very common thread of remarks which are not restricted to President Obama or any other individual. Rather, they are directed at Democrats and/or liberals in general. There is no need to delve into the list of creative descriptions for members of these groups which you are likely to encounter, but the visceral hatred is palpable in many instances.

Is this phenomenon restricted to the Right? Hardly. I've also participated in both online chats and blog comment moderation for significantly more left-leaning venues. Much of this came during the later portions of the George W. Bush years, after I had been protesting the Iraq war for five years and picking up a strange new set of bedfellows in the process. The Left has their own set of public voices which throw the occasional barbs, but their more unknown followers in the rank and file demonstrate every bit as much hatred when the opportunity arises. The phrase "Bush Derangement Syndrome" may anger our friends on the port side of the political ship, but it was more than appropriate. Sadly, Obama Derangement Syndrome has already taken its place in full force.

When it comes to left-wing extremism, it seems to be a different flavor, but it's just as common. As I mentioned in this space earlier, the left-wing loonies may be more inclined to shove metal spikes into old-growth trees or ram whaling boats, but violent intent and orchestrated mayhem are still easy to find. Again, it's not the ambition of the rich and famous which wind up in the headlines, but the unknown followers who swallow the hellfire of public pabulum and then slip off over their own private edge and take to the road with violent intent.

Rather than the aristocratic experience of Montaigne, in this matter we may be better served by inspirational speaker Zig Zigler, who observed that "the way you see people is the way you treat them." When you see people as living, breathing human beings -- albeit with sometimes radically different points of view -- you approach them as equals where some common ground might be found. The danger lies when we begin to view some group as The Other -- American fascists, commies, rednecks, treehuggers, brownshirts, baby-killers, gay bashers. For most it will result in unkind words and socially inept behavior. For a rare few, anger quietly simmers until some unforeseen trigger sends them to the door with the hardware of violence in hand.

Do we bear some of the responsibility for loading them up with poison? Or would they have simply found another target for their venom when their buttons were pushed? In either case, the way we see people probably is the way we treat them. Let's leave that as food for thought in a season of violence.