Everyone affected by the murderous rampage of the disturbed Loughner deserved a public memorial, but to my eyes the irony of Obama’s targeted concern for victims of the massacre in Arizona was impossible to ignore. Obama is in command of an enterprise which has resulted in the slaughter of many little girls, but one would be a fool to expect him to condemn his own “senseless violence” or publically grieve for the victims of his own drone strikes — that would run counter to the imperial ideology of American Exceptionalism, according to which the lives of U.S. American are regarded as more valuable than those outside the nationalist circle of concern.
Obama even reserves for his office the right to execute anyone in the world, even U.S. citizens, and claims this right to be unlimited even by judicial oversight. He therefore stands as a model for extra-legal vigilantism.
But these questions are not explored in the MSM, generally speaking, which instead has been dominated by the question of violent rhetoric in U.S. political discourse.
These two images present competing ways to look at the current “political climate”. Where the cover of The Economist makes an easy equivalence between “left” and “right” rhetorical bellicosity, L. Dangle at Troubletown appeals to ideological stereotypes to suggest such equivalence is an illusion.
It is difficult to escape the idea that certain people have a particular responsibility. I mean, before she was shot, the Congresswoman saw it coming, and saw it coming from particular places:
We’re on Sarah Palin’s “Targeted” list, but the thing is that the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. And when people do that, they have got to realize there are consequences to that action.
In response to the charge that the violent rhetoric is exclusively coming from the right, rightward leaning commentators are quick to point out recent examples of violent rhetoric coming from the left, which are in fact not hard to find.
Fair enough, but that abstracts from at least two important considerations. First, there is a double standard about how the state deals with left leaning activism, even when it is not violent. Consider this comparison by A. Cockburn:
If Palin was in the Animal Rights movement she would have been indicted, sentenced and imprisoned long ago. To draw a specific comparison: the SHAC 7 were convicted of “animal enterprise terrorism” for running a website which posted the names and addresses of individuals tied to the animal testing lab Huntingdon Life Sciences. They were not charged with any act of property destruction, they were charged with “conspiracy” on the grounds that they should be held accountable for the actions of others in the same movement.
Second, I don’t think it is controversial to claim that those on the right are, at least these days, more thoroughly armed. And considering this compilation of “lone nuts” who have translated rhetoric into action, many are more dangerous as well. Anti-war protesters I’ve seen — and I’ve seen many — are generally equipped with nothing more threatening than cardboard and crayons and costumes and drums, just as the Troubletown cartoon contends. Maybe if there WAS an armed left in the U.S. it would not be so easily and thoroughly taken advantage of.
Other perspectives / sources:
Tom Engelhardt writes about how civilian casualties in Afghanistan go underreported while the nation mourns the Arizona victims.
Amy Goodman, the best news anchor in the U.S., calls for an assault weapons ban and connects the debate to the violence in Juarez.
Billy Wharton argues that we should take Loughner as a reason to have single payer health care.