January 8, 2010

Does the rhetoric sound familiar?

To those who are old enough, particularly those who were living in or near Dallas in the fall of 1963, the hate-speech we're hearing from the extremist right wingnuts and teabaggers has familiar tones.

On November 20, 1963, members of the John Birch Society circulated some 5,000 of the now infamous JFK wanted posters on the streets of Dallas.

Two days later, on the morning of the 22nd, a full-page hate and lie-filled advertisement appeared in the city’s largest newspaper, the Dallas Morning News.

The advertisement, paid for by John Birch Society affiliate, the previously unheard of American Fact-Finding Committee, accused the President of responsibility for the imprisonment, starvation, and persecution of 'thousands of Cubans,' claimed he sold food to ‘Communists,’ accused him of letting Attorney General Robert Kennedy ‘go soft on Communists’ and ‘leftists’, and of persecuting ‘loyal Americans who criticize you, your administration, and your leadership.'

Two hours after the President read that advertisement he was dead. There is no known link between the Birchers and the assassination; there certainly is a link between JBS and the hateful rhetoric infecting our political discourse both then and now.

The John Birch Society has a history of extremism, liberal bashing, hate speech, and conspiracy theories. In the almost 50 years since the Kennedy assassination the Birchers have never let up on the rhetoric. Now today the right-wing blog The Hill has included JBS president John F. McManus as one of “the nation’s top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals.”

We’ll never be able to say for certain that the hateful words and actions of the likes of the John Birch Society in the early 60’s had anything to do with the death of a President, but as Chief Justice Earl Warren said in his eulogy delivered two days following the assassination, acts such as JFK’s murder “…are commonly stimulated by forces of hatred and malevolence. ... What a price we pay for this fanaticism. ... If we really love this country, if we truly love justice and mercy, if we fervently want to make this nation better for those who are to follow, we can at least abjure the hatred that consumes people, the false accusations that divide us, and the bitterness that begets violence.”

Today we have the likes of Glenn Beck stoking the flames on hate TV and hate radio, and there are the Michele Bachmans and Joe Wilsons in D.C. pushing their hate-filled agendas in the halls of Congress. In the old days we had Father Coughlin and Joe McCarthy. The hate has always been there, and it will forever be there, but we must not allow it to poison our body politic. Reason must prevail.



Old NFO said...

And what about the Huffington people? Are they innocent???

Mule Breath said...

Yes, the left has wingnuts. HuffPo has their share. Does that absolve the right of responsibility when their rhetorical promotion of violence as a means to gain political end results in violence?

You've read me for a while now so you know I don't like nutjobs on either side. The left had their turn but at the moment it is the right advocating violence, even murder, as a means to force ideology down the throats of the opposition.

The left's misbehavior more often is limited to acting like idiots and sounding like clowns.

Lockwood said...

Amen. I have on occasion read lefties who go over the line, but when I do, I try to avoid them afterwards. It troubles me that that histrionics on the right seem to draw ever greater numbers.

Mule Breath said...

NFO, I don't often read HuffPo, but I do regularly see references to stories there in other sources I read. Because of your comment I decided to go to the site and investigate your allegation.

Out of a random selection of some 3-dozen articles, I found much sarcasm, ridicule, anger, and snark, but nothing that could be termed hateful.

Depending on one's perspective, there was some that could be termed borderline conspiracy theory, but nothing that implied or advocated violence. Please point me to the story or stories of which you speak.