No, Mr. Ailes, Both Sides Don’t Do It

Written by John Aravosis for

Fascinating notion that “both sides do it.” Did our vice presidential candidate, Joe Biden, take down a bullseye he had drawn on the districts of GOP members of Congress? Where is the Vice President’s bullseye, like GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s bullseye, if both sides do it?

What Ailes means is that the leadership of the GOP, and their propaganda organ, do “it” all the time – “it” meaning “cross the line of decency” – whereas the occasional person on the left, usually an anonymous commenter on a blog, are the ones who do “it” on the Democratic side. On our side it tends to be an aberration. On their side, the aberration is elevated to the leadership of the party, given its own show on FOX News, or both.

The Republican party, and American conservatives, have a fetish for violent imagery in words and pictures. It’s why Republicans think it funny that their supporters bring guns to Obama rallies. It’s why Glenn Beck can claim on FOX News that President Obama plans to eliminate 10% of the US population in some kind of genocide, and Beck still keeps his job. It’s why Sarah Palin (the woman who coined the phrase “death panels” – suggesting that Democrats, and our president at the lead, had a plot to kill millions of elderly Americans for sport – a ridiculous, and incendiary, notion that was embraced by the leadership of the Republican party and its propaganda organ, FOX News) can put bullseyes on the districts of Democratic members of Congress, and even tell her followers to “lock and reload,” and all the Republicans laugh at how funny the violent imagery and words are.

We on the left have been complaining for years about the right’s embrace of violence, and how its rhetoric feeds America’s already out of control violent culture. There is nothing opportunistic about continuing to express that concern when a congresswoman is almost assassinated (and a federal judge and a 9 year old girl are assassinated) after Sarah Palin put a bullseye on the woman’s district – and refuses to remove the bullseye after the congresswoman expresses the concern that someone may take it as an exhortation to violence.

Has the right been constantly bemoaning a left-wing leadership embrace of violence, and somehow we all missed it?

Anyone who has visited Europe, Western Europe in particular, and especially those of us who have lived there, know all too well how unique America’s culture of violence is. In European capitals you generally don’t worry about walking home alone at 1, even 3, in the morning through deserted neighborhoods. Try that in Washington, DC. And if you do get robbed in Europe, odds are you won’t be hurt. In Washington, odds are you’ll be shot, knifed, or hit in the head – or in my case, they’ll simply try to strangle you to death on a busy street, in a nice neighborhood, at 8 o’clock in the evening.

Yes, we live in a great country. And it has a serious problem with violence. Rather than acknowledging the problem, and steering clear of tempting the metaphorical drunk, as it were, our conservative friends try to tap into the violence, in the hopes it will propel them to victory at the ballot box.

There is no left-wing NRA. There is no vice presidential candidate on the Democratic side who puts bullseyes on the districts of members of Congress he doesn’t like. And there is no Republican presidential nominee who has seen a spike in death threats in part because of the ramblings of the other team’s noise machine and its elected officials.

When you tell people that Democrats in Congress, and the White House, are planning to institute death panels to kill their grandmother, how do you expect them to respond – with roses?

There aren’t two sides to the Republicans’ embrace of guns, violence, and angry mobs. It’s all theirs. And it’s time the media stopped pretending otherwise.