False Equivalency

False Equivalency: wag matthews

Tweety during his silver tongued false equivalency rant

On his Hardball show  yesterday, Chris Matthews did a segment called The Hate Machine about the dog whistle relationship between right wing extremists and their “conservative” enablers in the media. Though he didn’t mention the inciters by name, I will– O’Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh, Savage, and Beck being just the most prominent hate speech gunslingers out there.

In the last year alone, right wing violence has produced:

1. The murder of two parishioners at a Tennessee Unitarian Universalist Church by Jim Adkisson, because they were “liberals.”   Among spent shotgun shells and brass knuckles found in Adkisson’s house were the books: Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder by  Michael Savage; Let Freedom Ring by Sean Hannity, and Bully-O’s The O’Reilly Factor.

2. ) The murder of 3 Pittsburgh police  trying to serve a warrant, shot as they stood in the doorway by Richard Poplawski who believed  rumors from the winger commentariat that President Obama was going to take his guns away.

3.) The murder of Dr. John Tiller by “pro-life” fanatic, Scott Roeder, who from his jail cell promised further murders by like minded crusaders. O’Reilly referred to him as Tiller the Baby Killer” or some variant over two dozen times.

4.) This week’s murder at the Holocaust Museum of a black security guard, Steven T. Johns,  by  James W. von Brunn, an 88 year ex-felon with a long history of white supremacist associations and web site dedicated to the hatred of blacks and Jews.

Obviously, this is a dangerous and growing trend and deserves serious coverage. CNN is currently running a one hour special hosted by Anderson Cooper (where I learned that “88” is code among neo-Nazis  for “Heil Hitler”, 8 being the number of the letter “H.”  Von Brunn was given to blurting it out on odd occasions with a smirk on his face.)

But Tweety, apparently compelled by lousy ratings to ape the “fair and balanced” tagline of his Fux News competitors, mucked it up by vamping on the spin provided by his conservative guest from the National Review, Deroy Murdock,  who played the false equivalency card–the  left is just as guilty at inciting violence as the right.

Tweety parroted the one example Murdock provided of leftist violence– the Environmental Liberation Front‘s torching of some SUVs, and their burning of a half-built subdivision in an environmentally sensitive area. Though he didn’t regurgitate Murdock’s insinuation that Al Gore had played an inciting role, he did see fit to blame Oliver Stone‘s 1991 conspiracy movie, JFK, for radicalizing a whole generation of leftists. I kid you not. Apparently, the inability to swallow the risible Warren Commission Report whole– exemplar of the “lone wolf” meme–  is all the proof that Tweety needs to show how unbalanced he is.

Neither of these bozos seem to have the slightest clue that ELF targeted property, not people. While destroying property always has the potential for injuring or killing people (and thus reason enough to avoid it), deliberately targeting individuals for murder is hardly its moral equivalent.

As for lone wolf exceptionalism, here’s what David Neiwart, who appears on the Cooper special, writes at Crooks and Liars:

Right-wingers like to use the solitary nature of this kind of terrorist act to dismiss them as “isolated incidents.” But in reality, the continuing existence of acts of this nature demonstrates primarily that the radical right in America is alive, well, and functioning better than it should. And the continuing — and as we’ve seen this week, ultimately futile — attempts by the right to whitewash their existence from the public consciousness have played no small part in helping that trend continue.

As for the cognitive merits of right versus left wing incitement, I’d love to see an FMRI comparison showing how subjects who self-identify as either right or left respond to talks by say, Al Gore, Oliver Stone and Michael Moore on the one hand; and Bully-O, Glenn Beck and Michael Savage on the other.

I rather suspect that the latter would show a disproportionate activation of the amygdala and other parts of the brain’s fear processing circuitry. Of course it isn’t easy to override a million years of evolutionary development  designed to rationally control our fear of the other. That’s why propagandists dress up their incitements to violence in ideological, religious, and moralistic garb. As the author below so clearly understood.

“Today Christians stand at the head of our country.
We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit.
We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press, in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of LIBERAL excess during the past years.”
-Adolph Hitler


  1. Propagandee Propagandee

    And to think that Stephanie Miller once co-hosted a show (Equal Time on CNBC) with Bay, whom she once described as:

    “Pat Buchanan with a wig, and she’s not fooling anybody.”

  2. hey props!
    even a broken clock is right twice a day. old pat was right about the war, but little else. his sister is even worse than he is. can you imagine what their parents must have been like to raise those two abrasive hateful bigots? i read about epstein. i was very glad he got kicked out of u of va law school. that it was a university in a southern state makes it even more sweet.

  3. Propagandee Propagandee

    Yo nonniekins:

    Couldn’t agree more. The fact that he and his sister Bay share as the executive director of the their foundation the same guy that heads up Tom Tancredo’s group, one Marcus Epstein, says volumes about them.

    As you are probably aware, Epstein did jail time in 2007 for stumbling drunk down a D.C. street, bumping into a black woman, calling her the n-word, and then karate chopping her in the head. Bay was defending the hell out of him just last week.

    And why MSNBC keeps Pat on the payroll is beyond me. I’ve watched him for years (inevitable since he’s all over the place, including McLaughin’s shout fest). While his isolationist foreign policy made him a staunch opponent of the Iraq war, his social policies totally suck. In the dark years when peace was threatening to break out over the culture wars, Pat could always be counted on to keep hope alive for bigots everywhere.

  4. tweety infuriates me. he’ll have really good segments in which he denounces the haters, and the next thing you know, pat buchanan is his guest. if tweety is serious about the hate speech having to end, then he should clean up his own show first and not give a race-baiting hateful bigot like buchanan a microphone.

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