Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hate: When is Enough Enough?


On the last day of November, 2007, a tense standoff in Rochester, New Hampshire occurred when a man walked into Hillary Clinton's local campaign headquarters, claimed he had a bomb strapped to himself with duct tape, and took two campaign volunteers hostage. It lasted for hours before he finally allowed the hostages to leave and walked out to unstrap the "bomb" to turn himself in.

There has been quite a lot of talk in the political blogosphere about how hate speech in the 'normal' course of politics as usual can incite unstable people to commit terrible crimes. And as people living near the economic edge begin to fall off, we aren't seeing any slowdown of bizarre acts and mass murders. But in politics, the hate is just getting warmed up.

On the right (RedState and FreeRepublic) the denizens were hoarding popcorn and speculating that Clinton had arranged for this attention-grab herself, liberally (ha!) salted with the usual right-wingnut hate speech we're so used to from that corner. Fox's Bill O'Reilly has of course embraced "The Politics of Hate" as his theme for the election season.

On the left there is also no shortage of hate, and it's not all directed at G.W. Bush. Hillary Clinton, whom many progressives believe to be just another puppet of the status quo of cowards and shrinking violets that comprise the Democratic leadership gets more than her share.

Things haven't gotten any better since the start of the primaries and caucuses, though many of the wannabes have dropped out. Republican front-runner John McCain comes in for regular trashing from the talking heads of his own party's hate machine (Rush Limbaugh, et al.). Though no one should take the threats of suicide should he win the nomination seriously. More interesting are the threats to vote for Hillary instead!

Meanwhile, Hillary is still distrusted by many. First for her macho posturing - an attempt to be more of a hawk than the chickenhawks to prove a woman can be Commander In Chief - and secondly for the confusion her hubby keeps slinging into the race. As if Hillary's quest for the White House is just a way to get him a third term.

Obama hasn't really encountered the worst of the Hate Machine yet, but things are picking up from the usual racist front as well as the religious bigot front. So long as things remain essentially tied, we can expect the hate speech to get louder and louder.

Perhaps as things go forward to the conventions America will have overdosed on the Politics of Hate enough to change the station. We can always hope!


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