Wednesday, January 19, 2011

History of Right Wing Hate Speech? (Video)

I have not fact-checked the information in the first video, but it does match with what I remember hearing when I was a child when adults in my community talked about John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963 as well as the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. People perceived southern conservatives of that period to be violently angry and that white segregationists' speech reflected that rage.

It is the same climate in which the 1963 church bombing occurred, the murder of Medgar Evers occurred, and later the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, although his convicted assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, deserves the same label that the press has given Jared Lee Loughner, mentally unstable. Both are considered to be disturbed and obsessed with a certain ideology or philosophy; Sirhan's was driven in part by anti-Zionism and Lougher's seems to be fascinated by nihilism.

The video below is of Mike Papantonio talking to Ed Shultz and is posted also at Ring of Fire. The two talk about the history of hate speech within the right wing movement. While I think Papantonio's logic is sound and his facts appear to be credible, I do not think everyone on the right condones or uses hate speech. I do, however, think that too many on the right who do not condone or use hate speech remain silent when their counterparts do which is why I gladly posted the video of two conservatives chiding another conservative for using racist speech.

I think this kind of talk show, Ring of Fire, is a left counterpunch to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn-Beck's type of talk shows, and they can fill a whole and serve a worthwhile purpose. However, I will have to spend some time doing fact checks before I yay or nay the style, substance, and format of Ring of Fire.

A friend of mine shared this video and others with me, and I think I'll pass them on to my rhetoric professor. In our next class she will be discussing how the term "rhetoric" has been used in the days since the Arizona Shootings. Since once definition of rhetoric is speech used to persuade, I look forward to hearing my classmates' and professor's thoughts about the recent debates on civil political rhetoric.

Until my friend passed along to me this and the video at the end of this post that has the same left wing pundits talking about Sarah Palin, I had not paid attention to Ring of Fire (Not much time to listen to pundits on either side lately); however, I do recall hearing that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., was involved with a liberal radio show a while back. According to the show's Facebook page:
Ring of Fire is a weekly radio program hosted by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder. Kennedy Jr., Papantonio, and Seder hold court over the news of the week and offer the real behind-the-scene details on those stories.
In the first video Papantonio is making the case that President John F. Kennedy was shot in a climate of hate speech in which people called him a communist and a "n*gg*r lover" (Papantonio doesn't use that last term, but I recall the charge), and so Papantonio argues that this is the same kind rhetoric we've seen rise again on the right (He's alluding to Obama being called a socialist and terrorist, I think, and some right wing pundits' accuasations that health care reform is reparations for black people, etc.).

He says that billionaires such as H. L. Hunt and Fred Koch funded campaigns against JFK, which included flooding Dallas, Texas, with anti-Kennedy posters:
The poster says that the president is wanted for treason against the United States. Now, understand, hundreds of thousands of these posters were distributed all over Dallas, all over Texas. They said he was a communist, that he subverted the Constitution, that he supported racial communist riots in America because of his civil rights stand. They said he was anti-Christian and promoted anti-Christian rulings by the Warren Court, that he was a despicable liar. Now, if you think about the history of what was happening then, you had H.L. Hunt and Fred Koch, who helped finance and organize, people don't realize this, they don't understand that Fred Koch helped organize and finance the John Birch Society, the same crowd that he had out in the streets in Texas weeks before John F. Kennedy shows up in Dallas. They're flying Confederate flags, they're screaming that Kennedy should be shot because he loved African-Americans, only they were much more ignorant and hostile in the way they talked about African-Americans, you can imagine.
Unlike someone at NewsBusters suggests, however, Papantonio is not saying people in Dallas were behind Kennedy's assassination nor that Sarah Palin pushed Jared Lee Loughner to shoot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others in Arizona on January 8.

Papantonio is saying that these kinds of acts of violence correlate with periods in which hate speech flourishes. (With so much violence in society today, he should probably do more to lay the groundwork for this point, which is difficult to do in oral arguments on radio where people often miss nuance and in a time when so many don't know history and so don't recognize references. However, there is evidence that periods of unchecked hate speech against specific ethnic or religious groups precede genocide.)

The writer at NewsBusters, a right wing website, also says that Papantonio is perpetuating the myth that Dallas schoolchildren applauded when it was announced Kennedy had been shot. If he is correct and if the references the writer cites are not simply more attempts by southerners to rewrite history, then Papantonio should correct his mistake if he wants to show that he is above the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs on the other side.

In this next video, Papantonio calls Palin "a political Frankenstein," meaning she's a creation of the political powers that brought her to the mainstream and now they can't control her. With his statement, please keep in mind that someone had to resign in March 2008 from Obama's campaign for calling Hillary Clinton "a monster;" so, Papantonio should probably be careful of going over the top with his own diction.

He also says that women find Palin "creepy," and he believes that the more people know about Palin, the less they like her, which is why, he thinks, her reality show was not renewed; the people who want her to run could see it was too much exposure, he supposes. I'm not sure that's the case, however.

But I do think that some of the people on the right who initially promoted Palin are sorry that they did so.

Please consider that the video segment below was recorded before Palin's "blood libel" speech, which has been severely criticized because in it she defends herself and seems more concerned about what people have been saying about her rhetorical strategies than she is about the shooting victims. She's been accused of playing the victim.

Shultz,by the way, says that without Palin's incendiary rhetoric, she's a nobody.

I'm trying to determine how I feel about this kind of passionate, sometimes virulent speech on the left (I am sometimes equally passionate). If we're going to call for civility, then what does that mean? Does that mean those on the left, if they have their facts straight, can't shout back at the right? What do we mean when we say we want a civil discussion of issues? And why does the craziness of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have so many more supporters and higehr ratings than something like "Ring of Fire"?

Related: Sarah Palin vs. Barack Obama: An Issue of Rhetorical Ethos

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