They Have Become What They Refused to Deny
In the wake of two murders comitted by right-wing whackjobs over the past two weeks, the response from Conservatives has been to say "Well, they weren't really Conservatives." They also weren't true Scotsmen.
Some folks made so bold as to describe the man who attacked the Holocaust Museum in Washington as "left-wing," deliberately and with malice aforethought confusing National Socialism with Socialism. The confusion is easy to understand: First, both are equally evil in the eyes of conservatives; Second, the people making said accusations are sadly stupid.
But conservatives will not long be able to continue using their own version of the "lone gunman" theory. Because these actions don't take place in a vacuum. Between the silent dog whistles of talk radio and the plain old silence of Conservative leaders, the right wing has been complicit, if not actively conniving, in acts of murder.
Don't believe me? Take a look at Paul Krugman's column here. Not enough for you that a Nobel-winning economist can connect the dots? Then look at this op-ed from Frank Rich.
But we've all seen this stuff before. Any one of us has found Conservative blogs, articles, and the like which, while frowning down their noses at the violence and mayhem that the politics of the right seem to inspire, don't quite manage to disavow any of it.
Case in point, Bill O'Reilly--one of the globe's nastier denizens--who categorically continues to deny any responsibility for enabling the murder of Dr. Tiller. This despite carrying on a bully pulpit campaign against Tiller and his practice: providing late-term abortions (which are always medically necessary on the fewer-than-three-percent-of-all-abortions occasions when they are required).
But they're all like this. In the face of the most vituperative accusations against US president Obama, every level of Republican leadership has remained silent. The most any of them has ever said boils down to "Well I don't agree with what he did but you have to admit he had a point ..."
And in their refusal to deny, and their enthusiasm for, these things, they come to own them.
The shocking thing is that not even the most-highly placed of Conservative leaders seem to be making the fiery disavowals that should be made to separate the so-called "lone whackos" from "mainstream conservatives." And why? Because there is so little difference.
This is why I no longer describe myself as a conservative. Because when I hear that word I no longer know whether the person using it to refer to themselves means "I support free trade" or "I passively condone murder."
And in such circumstances it's certainly best to be clear.
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