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Kevin O’Neill: Who’s In the Mirror?

June 19, 2017


Tom and his Stocks and Jocks guests were discussing the London attacks a few weeks ago when the “why” question was asked. Is it economic circumstances, desperation, or US incursions in the Middle East… or is it something else?

It’s something else. Specifically, these attacks are committed by people who adhere to a rigid ideology and refuse to accept the legitimacy of all others. There is a mindset that goes with labeling others infidels that is well past passionate disagreement. Once one believes that infidels are lesser creatures, once one believes that the spread of Sharia Law is commandment, and once one believes that those who disagree are evil, terrorizing others into capitulation and subjugation becomes a viable tactic.

A recent Islamic State (ISIS) manifesto said, “Even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam.”

They hate us

Certainly ISIS claims other grievances, but they ultimately are tied to accepting Islam not only as faith but as law. The manifesto explains why they hate us:

  1. Because you are disbelievers: “We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah – whether you realize it or not – by making partners for Him in worship, you blaspheme against Him, claiming that He has a son, you fabricate lies against His prophets and messengers, and you indulge in all manner of devilish practices.”
  2. Because you are liberal: “We hate you because your secular, liberal societies permit the very things that Allah has prohibited while banning many of the things He has permitted, a matter that doesn’t concern you because you Christian disbelief and paganism 32 separate between religion and state, thereby granting supreme authority to your whims and desires via the legislators you vote into power.”
  3. Because some of you are atheist: “In the case of the atheist fringe, we hate you and wage war against you because you disbelieve in the existence of your Lord and Creator.”
  4. For your crimes against Islam: “We hate you for your crimes against Islam and wage war against you to punish you for your transgressions against our religion.”
  5. For your crimes against Muslims: “We hate you for your crimes against the Muslims; your drones and fighter jets bomb, kill, and maim our people around the world, and your puppets in the usurped lands of the Muslims oppress, torture, and wage war against anyone who calls to the truth.”
  6. For invading our lands: “We hate you for invading our lands and fight you to repel you and drive you out. As long as there is an inch of territory left for us to reclaim, jihad will continue to be a personal obligation on every single Muslim.”

This brings me to my point.

Are we any different?

How does tolerance for different ways of thinking in the 2017 United States of America compare to the above? Do we debate, or do we demonize?

I am not asking about the idiot fringe on both the left and the right. I’m asking about the political mainstream – politicians, television and radio pundits, and other high profile people who influence how the masses think.

Compare the following statements, and explain the difference in tolerance.

“Allah does not love the infidels. … They are the residents of Hell, and will there forever abide.” – Sheikh Abdar Razaq Afifi, deputy president of the Department of Guidance and a member of the Board of Great Ulema of Saudi Arabia.

“Republicans don’t believe in the imagination, partly because so few of them have one, but mostly because it gets in the way of their chosen work, which is to destroy the human race and the planet. Human beings, who have imaginations, can see a recipe for disaster in the making; Republicans, whose goal in life is to profit from disaster and who don’t give a hoot about human beings, either can’t or won’t. Which is why I personally think they should be exterminated before they cause any more harm.” — The Village Voice’s Michael Feingold, in a theater review of all places

“At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?” – Talk show host Erick Erickson

How about some demonizing from elected officials?

Every member of Congress knows in his gut what’s in the people’s interest and what’s in K Street’s interest. If you think your real boss is some smug guy in a corner office with his Gucci loafers up on a mahogany deck and not the folks back home, those folks who voted for you, who gave you 25 or 50 hard-earned bucks, who put up yard signs and made calls for you, you deserve to lose. Shame on you, you shouldn’t just be fired, you should be tarred and feathered as the original tea partiers would have done. That’s my view and I welcome yours. – Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

“That Scott down there that’s running for governor of Florida. Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. He stole billions of dollars from the United States government and he’s running for governor of Florida. He’s a millionaire and a billionaire. He’s no hero. He’s a damn crook. It’s just we don’t prosecute big crooks.” — Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables, right,” Clinton said. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it; and unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.” — Former Secretary Clinton at an LGBTQI fundraiser.

Lock her up, Crooked Hillary, Lying Ted Cruz, Little Marco…

“The Republicans’ plan boils down to this: Dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance.” – Barack Obama

“As your governor, you’re going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page, saying ‘Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell.”‘ — Maine Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage

“Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians… Probably the Republicans.” Hillary Clinton, remarking on the enemies she is most proud to have made.

“If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?” – retweeted from Donald Trump’s Twitter account (later blamed on a campaign)

It isn’t much of a leap to, as ISIS does, call for violence. I’ll bet it’s more mainstream than you think.

“A spoiled child (Bush) is telling us our Social Security isn’t safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here’s your answer, you ungrateful whelp: (audio sound of 4 gunshots being fired.) Just try it, you little b*stard. (audio of gun being cocked).” — A “humor bit” from the Randi Rhodes Show

“You have got to say no to this, and if they push this through, you need to riot in the streets. You need to riot in the streets. Our country was built on revolution and it’s about time we took it back. These people are dangerous. It’s about time to put an end to this leftist control of this country, and if a revolution is what it takes, damn it, then that’s what it’s going to take, because liberty will not be denied.” – Radio host Jim Quinn

“You guys see Live and Let Die, the great Bond film with Yaphet Kotto as the bad guy, Mr. Big? In the end they jam a big CO2 pellet in his face and he blew up. I have to tell you, Rush Limbaugh is looking more and more like Mr. Big, and at some point somebody’s going to jam a CO2 pellet into his head and he’s going to explode like a giant blimp. That day may come. Not yet. But we’ll be there to watch. I think he’s Mr. Big, I think Yaphet Kotto. Are you watching, Rush?” — Chris Matthews

“Violent protesters who shut down free speech? Time for another Kent State perhaps. One bullet stops a lot of thuggery,” — Marquette County MI GOP secretary Dan Adamini

“This is absolutely outrageous,” the group tweeted sarcastically, linking to the story. “House Republicans should NOT be shot! They should be guillotined.” — The Young Democratic Socialists at the University of Georgia, responding to a professor’s comment that Republicans “should be lined up and shot.”

“The vast right-wing conspiracy blame has been undermined by her [Clinton’s] evasions, by her outright lies, if I may say, by her pandering, by her race-baiting, and now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama – Obama – well, both if we could.” — Fox News contributor Liz Trotta

“If I had my way, I would see Katherine Harris and Ken Blackwell strapped down to electric chairs and lit up like Christmas trees. The better to light the way for American Democracy and American Freedom!” — Democratic Talk Radio’s Stephen Crockett

“Go to your Congressman’s office and scream at him in the most colorful language possible. Hang him in effigy at protests. If you’re willing to do the time for the crime, have a swing at him.” Washington Examiner contributor Bob Owens

“Or pick up a baseball bat and take out every f*cking republican and independent I see. #f*cktrump, #f*cktheGOP, #f*ckstraightwhiteamerica, #f*ckyourprivilege.” — Orange is the New Black star Lea DeLaria responding to a meme about using music to deal with violence

“I think they should be allowed to build it followed by the hijacking of an Iranian plane right into that building and blow it to smithereens.” — Denver Post columnist Mike Rosen regarding the proposed Islamic community center in Manhattan

When demonizing isn’t enough

Islamist propaganda goes beyond calling infidels evil. They are dehumanized – vile animals and beasts, perverted transgressors and partners of Satan to be fought until religion is Allah’s alone. We Americans never would stoop that low, would we? Would we? Of course we would. In fact, dehumanizing political opposition is fashionable in some circles.

O&A: “Condoleezza Rice”

Charlie: “I’d love to f— that b*tch dude” (laughter). “She’s the F—in man”

O&A: “yeah”

Charlie “I’d F…that b*tch.”

O&A: “I just imagine the horror in Condoleezza Rice’s face…” (laughter) “as she realizes what’s going on as you were just holding her down and F’n her.”

Charlie: “Punch her all the F’n face, shut the F— up b*tch”

O&A: “That’s exactly what I meant” (laughter in background)

Charlie: “You know F— it …. and George Bush wife? I’d F— that b*tch to death” — “Shock Jocks” Opie & Anthony talk rape & violence with their guest “Homeless Charlie.”

Ted Nugent can make a greatest hits album of his ugly comments – He has called President Obama a “piece of shit” and a “subhuman mongrel” He called Hillary Clinton a “worthless bitch” and called for her to “ride one of these (guns) into the sunset.” He told Obama to “suck on my machine gun.”

“Violence solves nothing. I want a rhino to f*ck @SpeakerRyan to death with its horn because it’s FUNNY, not because he’s a #GOPmurderbro.” – Jos Whedon

“I went down this morning to sign up my Dog for welfare. At first the lady said, ‘Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare’. So I explained to her that my Dog is black, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and has no frigging clue who his Daddy is. So she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify… My Dog gets his first check Friday. Is this is a great country or what? — Virginia Beach (Va.) Republican Committee Chairman David Bartholomew

“Sarah Palin needs to have her hair shaved off to a buzz cut, get headf*cked by a big veiny, ashy, black d*ck then be locked in a cupboard.” — Azealia Banks advocating rape

Once the opposition isn’t human, anything said or done is okay. That’s how ISIS members behead infidel mongrels, record the deeds, and put them online to terrorize opposition and delight followers without a second thought. The examples above follow the same dehumanization path. What’s next?

Orthodoxy

When it’s good versus evil, we’re expected to pick a side; and in such a war, there is no room for dissent. Follow orders without question. Shout down the opposition. Ridicule them. Eliminate the Republican Democrat infidel dogs.

Don’t question orthodoxy. ISIS doesn’t tolerate it. In increasing numbers, Americans don’t tolerate it either.

Consider a selection of responses from the left when liberal Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi dared to draw the distinction between Russian meddling and the Trump campaign’s collusion.

Here’s a way to evaluate that heuristic: Could you be “an independent voice” and “skeptical of both sides” and still publish 100% bullshit? (Taibbi’s response: Sure. But at least you would know it was my bullshit, and not some party’s talking points.)

btw I’d rather be in sync w/ Dem Party than in sync w/ Fox News talking points abt how Russia investigation is media “hysteria” (Taibbi’s response: Hey, Eric – when was the last time you had an opinion that wasn’t exactly in sync with the Democratic Party?)

Yeah, fuck the Democratic Party and all of its opinions. Let’s try this argument in 2018 and see what happens — is that okay, Matt? (Taibbi’s response: If you’d like your reporters to be mouthpieces for political parties, there are plenty of news outlets that will accommodate you.)

Charles Krauthammer wrote an article called “The Guardrails Can’t Contain Trump” and got these responses and many more like them from fellow conservatives.

What in the world are you talking about? Are you being paid off for outright lies or are just this one-sided you can’t see the truth?

I use to be a fan of yours. You cannot accept @Potus just like the dems. Why dont you give this country a break and let the man #MAGA

We once listened with respect when @krauthammer commented but that was prior to mindlessly impulsive unfair comments made towards @Potus

What exactly is wrong with you?

I find both authors to be honest brokers who, while ideologically driven, offer opinions that they can support with facts. Agree or disagree, they spout no party lines; and for that they are candidates for excommunication from their preferred political parties. Sharyl Attkisson says it well in her soon-to-be released book The Smear.

The trend to censor & silence rather than inform, listen and/or persuade is (in my opinion) damaging to what we’re supposed to be about.

Is it hopeless?

When it comes to politics, Americans should not like what they see in the mirror. Unfortunately only a few have taken a good long look.

Warren Buffett has looked. “I believe in hate the sin, love the sinner, and I also believe in praising by name and criticizing by category.” He went on to say, “I think it’s a mistake to get angry with your, with people that disagree with you. In the end we do have to work together… And it does not help when you demonize or get too violent with the people you’re talking to.”

Ted Nugent has looked, too. “At the tender age of 69, my wife has convinced me that I just can’t use those harsh terms,” he said last week. “I cannot, and I will not; and I encourage even my friends-slash-enemies on the left in the Democrat and liberal world that we have got to be civil to each other. I’m going to take a deep breath and I am going to back it down; and if it gets fiery, if it gets hateful, I’m going away. I’m not going to engage in that kind of hateful rhetoric anymore.”

For my part, I look to the words of Martin Luther King in his famous speech in Washington on August 28, 1963.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

Dr. King led a movement of people who first were enslaved and, though technically free, were oppressed for another century. No leader had more cause to demonize than he, yet he resisted the urge and exhorted his followers to do the same.

Can we heed his words in 2017?

 

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