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Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Thirty-five years ago today

A truly bleak day in our history.

Comments (3)

The Kent State shootings sparked riots in the park blocks here in Portland, as I recall. I was at Cleveland high at the time. Then police commissioner Frank Ivancie sent out the cops with axe handles to bust up the demonstrators. Many people were injured. I was just a sophomore, but some of my older friends went downtown and ended up getting tear-gassed.

There is an ongoing, dangerous escalation of rhetoric taking place in our nation.  It is reminiscent of the tone that existed in the anti-war precincts in the late 1960's.  At that time, the United States was routinely derided as an imperialist, capitalist, fascist state which had as its goal the subjugation of the freedom fighters of the Viet Cong, who were fighting to rid their country of foreign invaders, and deserved our support.  The rhetoric had an inexorable logic to it, and by the late 1960's, we had our homegrown minor league terrorist groups, the Weathermen (a pale precursor of al Qaeda without a Koran, but with the Port Huron Statement as a manifesto) and the Black Panthers, a group of thugs loosely analogous to the irredentist Sunnis, but without the suicide bombing.  Luckily, the violence was held to a minimum, few people were killed, though not for lack of ambition, and with the end of the draft, the passions dimmed.  The left won the war over Vietnam, won the control of the government (with the Democrats and the liberal agenda an attenuated form of leftism) and the right went to work honing their philosophy and message.  The United States retreated from large scale military interventions, and any terrorism that occurred, tended to come from the right.

Once again, we seem to be treading into dangerous territory.  Just as back in the 60's, the MSM, Walter Cronkite, the New York Times, various pundits, gave intellectual cover to the worst excesses of rhetoric and ultimately to violence, the rhetoric is ratcheting upwards into dangerous territory.  Central figures in the MSM, and in the Democratic party, are making charges that legitimize violence.  If Bush lied (a meme that seems to never be far from the surface of the NY Times), if the Republicans "stole" a second consecutive election, if our soldiers, just as charged n Vietnam, are committing atrocities sanctioned by their superiors, logic dictates that some on the extreme left will take this as fact (and, some go much further into more complicated paranoid delusions) and take the step into violence.  Thus far we have been treated to various conservatives being pelted with food when they have appeared on campuses.  It will almost certainly escalate from here.

Yesterday, in Contradictions, I wrote about the contrast between the brutality of the Iraqi terrorists (rarely mentioned in the Times) and the US military, and the slander by Bob Herbert printed in the Times.

Today, John McCandlish Phillips, an author and former reporter for the New York Times, wrote in the Washington Post an article titled, "When Columnists Cry 'Jihad'". 

Phillips was the only evangelical Christian among the 275 news and editorial employees at the Times, for the 18 years he worked there.  He has become alarmed at the vitriol directed at the Christian right.

The opening salvo of the heavy rhetorical artillery to which I object came in on March 24, when Maureen Dowd started her column in the Times with the declaration "Oh my God, we really are in a theocracy." While satiric, as always with the ever-so-readable columnist, it was not designed to be taken lightly.

Three days later Frank Rich, an often acute, broadly knowledgeable and witty cultural observer, sweepingly informed us that, under the effects of "the God racket" as now pursued in Washington, "government, culture, science, medicine and the rule of law are all under threat from an emboldened religious minority out to remake America according to its dogma." He went on to tell Times readers that GOP zealots in Congress and the White House have edged our country over into "a full-scale jihad." If Rich were to have the misfortune to live for one week in a genuine jihad, and the unlikely fortune to survive it, he would temper his categorization of the perceived President Bush-driven jihad by a minimum of 77 percent. If any "emboldened minority" is aiming to "remake America according to its dogma," it seems to many evangelicals and Catholics that it is the vanguard wanting, say, the compact of marriage to be stretched in its historic definition to include men cohabiting with men and women with women. That is, in terms of the history of this nation, a most pronounced and revolutionary novelty.

He reports on an increasing number of reports in the Times and other major media outlets decrying the dangers of the Christian right, who are increasingly equated with Islamofascists.  Paul Krugman is acutely attuned to the menace the Christians pose.

In "What's Going On" [March 29], Krugman darkly implied that some committed religious believers in our nation bear a menacing resemblance to Islamic extremists, by which he did not mean a few crazed crackpots but a quite broad swath of red-staters. In "An Academic Question" [April 5], Krugman, conceding the wide majority of secular liberals over conservatives on the faculties of our major universities, had the supreme chutzpah to tell us why: The former, unfettered by presuppositions of faith, are free to commit genuine investigative work and to reach valid scholarly conclusions, while the latter are disabled in that critical respect by their unprovable prior assumptions. So they are disqualified as a class from the university enterprise by their unfortunate susceptibility to the God hypothesis.

This is not the only place where the rhetorical excesses are reaching alarming proportions.  Anne Coulter, a conservative entertainer, who uses a rapier wit, liberal doses of sarcasm to skewer her enemies on the ideological spectrum, not only received free food from the protesting leftists who come to her speeches to make sure no one can be contaminated by them, but accuse her of the intolerance and intimidation they themselves are using (another prominent feature of many of the protesters on the left in the good old days of 1969.)  John Hawkins reports on her latest speech and some reactions to it, both on the minority of protesters in the crowd, and the plaintive response from a writer who has a diary on the Daily Kos blog, one of the premier sites for the progressive wing of the Democratic party and the political spectrum.   The protesters were particularly vile at this event (go see Hawkins' article Liberal Creeps Disrupt Another Campus Event. Big Surprise There [he is not big on subtlety] for the full flavor, though reports are also available elsewhere) and Hawkins summarizes:

Oh, how this liberal poster boy Ajai Raj was oppressed. Here he is in public, dropping "f-bombs" and pretending to masturbate in front of the audience -- that included children under 10 according to the police affidavit -- and they arrest him.

Don't those "faceless, inhumane, automata" understand that it's OK for liberals to be as obnoxious as they want in public because they're liberals? Who wants to live in a world where liberals can't shout through a lecture, run around pretending to masturbate, and generally ruin events for everybody else without suffering any consequences?

You would think that liberals in this country would have enough common decency and respect for the opinions of other people to condemn, not celebrate or wink at, this sort of behavior. Unfortunately, for the most part, that's sadly not the case.

For some additional examples of the behavior of so-called liberals in the audience at a Coulter speech (at Saint Thomas College), and the shameful response of a cowardly college administration (also, sadly characteristic of the 60's), see these articles at Powerline, In which St. Thomas keeps digging and Hateful speech revisited.

When your enemies are evil, dangerous fascists who are dedicated to destroying your country, your civil rights, and enslaving and/or killing various innocents, it becomes incumbent on right minded people to act to prevent further horrors.  This is the logic of the left, aided and abetted by large parts of the MSM, Academia, and the Democratic Party.  While they will accuse the Republicans and Bush of doing exactly what I just described, their logic fails when it can not encompass 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq elections, 3/11, the Cedar revolution, and so much more, but much of the left is beyond the touch of reason; will violence follow?

As someone who turned 18 in 1969, who fought against the draft, but would have been proud to serve my country in a war that made sense...just your post, Jack, brought back some powerful memories. 35 years? Man, it doesn't seem that long ago...

Now, with grown kids, I think...what a thing to do to our children. Send 'em off as draftees to a hellish, stupid war, and respond to their resistance with all the ugliness of a deranged parent unable to handle the challenge. And all the innocents caught up in the madness. Diatribe against the left and "liberals," as in the previous post? Please...this was about kids shooting kids, being scared, and the country being torn apart as it wrestled with its conscience.

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