In the past year there have been many murderous terrorist attacks in the United States, and all have been from the radical right. Jim Adkisson killed two Unitarian church members and wounded others because they were “liberals.” Kieth Luke, a neo-Nazi, conducted a rape and murder spree after Obama was inaugurated. Right winger Richard Poplawski murdered several deputies in a ambush killing. Then Joshua Cartwright, similarly worried that Obama was president and might take away his guns, killed two other deputies in Florida. George Tiller’s murder was only the most recent in a long list of murders by “pro-life” monsters. And I imagine everyone knows the most recent act of right wing terrorism: James Von Brunn’s cold blooded murder of Stephen T. Jones at the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
About the only non-rightwinger involved in terrorism was a Muslim convert Carlos “Corey” Bledsoe, now Abdulhakid Mujahid Mohammed, who allegedly shot and killed Army Pvt. William Long and wounded another soldier outside
a Little Rock, Ark., mall.
Some of us, myself included, have argued that most of this blood also lies on the hands and tongues of men and women like Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Michele Malkin. They are the moral monsters who create and constantly reinforce a emotional and intellectual climate where others create bloodshed and terror. But there is a problem here even deeper than murder.
Our identity as a nation is not innate, a fact of nature and biology. Instead our identity as Americans is a cultural construct. Like all cultural constructs, it must continually be recreated through the activities of people who regard themselves as Americans.
More than other nations, our national identity is rooted in ideas incorporated into our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Unlike most European nations we are not primarily an ethnic group or former tribe. We do not share a history extending back into the distant past. We are a people who came together to make a vision of a free society real. This vision has never been fully realized, and the Dixie explicitly repudiated it before the Civil War, but its promise has remained our strongest source of national unity and hope for the future. As a country, our most important reforms and achievements have been in its name, our greatest failings when we failed to live up to it.
Like termites, the right wing media has been gradually eating away at this moral and intellectual heritage for decades. They have been teaching that other identities are more important than being an American: “Christian,” conservative, white, and so on. In doing so they have constantly taught that Americans who do not meet their tribalistic standards are inferior.
No greater treason is possible than that of undermining the bonds of peace and respect that hold a society together, substituting hatred, distrust, fear, and violence in its place.
The traitors of the right hide their treason against our nation by constantly talking about patriotism – the same way the communists talked about worker self rule while destroying it or Republican politicians praise “bipartisanship” while violating it at every opportunity. By reversing the meaning of words and destroying dialogue they make public debate impossible, and reduce it to yelling and shoving.
I fear we have seen only a taste of their bestiality. Much more will come.