Comment

Pat Buchanan Promotes 9/11 'Truth'

145
vxbush9/15/2009 3:25:11 pm PDT

re: #126 agarrett

Well, it is a thesis, an argument, not a proof. He lists several times in the past we’ve tried to overgeneralize violence on the part of a fringe element, and wound up overreacting and bringing in mainstream people. He looks at the reaction to Pearl Harbor and the Oklahoma City bombing in reasonable detail, and some other examples in less detail. From there, he tries to draw analogies to the current situation.

So, whether you consider these facts of his case or not probably depends on how much you accept arguing by analogy. I found it well written and well argued, and you can take that recommendation for what it’s worth.

I find it very hard to necessarily draw the same conclusions looking back in history at fringe elements and pointing, “Ah, there! We decisively screwed up there!” and then comparing then to now.

Two paragraphs:

When panicky centrists aren’t willing to draw an unbroken line from peaceful conservatives to the violent fringe, they posit a somewhat subtler link. The killers, they acknowledge, aren’t taking their marching orders directly from Fox News and AM radio. But by giving serious attention to theories associated with the fringe right—that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is preparing concentration camps, that Barack Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen—Glenn Beck and other broadcasters are validating the grievances of potential killers, giving them the impression that they aren’t alone. This validation is buttressed by the sweeping, sometimes violent rhetoric about “liberals” that you hear from partisan celebrities, such as Ann Coulter’s joke that McVeigh should have blown up the New York Times building instead. In The Eliminationists and on his blog, David Neiwert tries to establish a chain linking “eliminationist” behavior in American history (lynchings of blacks and Asians, the slaughter of American Indians), eliminationist rhetoric on the mainstream right (the Coulter wisecrack), and von Brunn–style efforts to eliminate people directly.

The theory is interesting, but it has two enormous problems. The first is that it ignores the autonomy of people on the fringe. Not just the radicals who commit the crimes, but the radicals who don’t commit crimes. There’s a complex ecology at work here, one demonstrated most clearly in those cases when militiamen alerted authorities to terrorist plots in their midst. Words have influence, but they influence different people in different ways; you can’t reduce media effects to simple push-pull reactions. Accusing Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly of validating right-wing violence isn’t so different from accusing pornography of validating rape, Ozzy Osbourne of validating teen suicide, or Marilyn Manson of validating school massacres.

I’m sorry, but words have meaning, and there is a reason why we want reporters to have multiple sources for the information they present in order to be credible. Beck’s comments about internment camps wasn’t sourced, and yet some people accepted that information hook, line, and sinker. Shouldn’t he also be held accountable for spewing false information that might cause people to act irrationally?