Just before the midtems, RNC-led talk of traitors in the American midst - a body of traitors that turned out to be rather more than half the voting electorate - reached a slimy pinnacle with the RNC's midterm ad "The Stakes" At the time I wrote about how conservatives who still believed in the democratic process where attempting to counsel their more militant brethren to be less extreme, giving several examples of that militancy all the way up to one rightwinger who hoped he “would be on the squads assigned to eliminate the left”.
The appeal by conservatives to their extremists didn’t work. By February, Congressman Don Young (R-AK) used a fake quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln to argue that Democrats who criticized the President's Iraq policy deserved to be "arrested, exiled or hanged." At the time, Jeffrey Feldman wrote:
What I see is a growing ease with which Republicans use the media to call for violence to be committed against Democrats. And as far as I can tell, they have been allowed to do this without any consequences whatsoever.Three months later, and there are still no consequences for extremist conservatives who advocate the abandonment of democracy in America.
Are these calls for violence harmless? They are not. In fact, there is ample evidence to suggest that even the most poetic calls for violence by conservatives in the media put them on a path to violence--a path that starts with insults, leads to death threats, and then ultimately arrives at actual murder.
The problem is not just incitement, but the lack of consequences for this behavior.
Yesterday, Kevin Drum and others noted Thomas Sowell still whipping up the militant Right to violent totalitarianism with this:
When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can't help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup.Other extremists were even more explicit. Take, for example, the rightwing Macsmind blog:
The veto won’t change the unchangeable such as Pelosi and Reid, both of which should have their citizenship stripped and sent to hang out with Chavez. On a better note send Pelosi to live with the Taliban, I give her five minutes tops before - well, you know.In other words, if the people won’t vote against the Democrats then author Macranger is quite happy to see violence used to keep them from power instead. One wonders if such a clear threat to “go postal” from a former career military type will garner any interest at all from the FBI.
Fact is that we - meaning the true conservatives have had enough of these malcontented traitors - pimples on the ass of Lady Liberty.
...There comes a time in every country that has ever existed when one side - the strong side must do something other than play politics with the other. The present Democratic Party is beyond such reason. Thus there comes a time when if not by will, then by force they go.
Many of the Right’s militant wing are more circumspect than Macranger has been, but many are not. In any case, Feldman is correct - “the problem is not just incitement, but the lack of consequences for this behavior”. Such threats and murmers towards abandonment of democracy do the rest of the conservative movement no favors.
It’s time that Republicans as a whole stood up to their extremists and shunned their company - loudly. For not to do so is a tacit approval of their anti-democratic beliefs and will only entice some to attempt to act upon those beliefs. The problem is analogous to that of extreme advocates of violent racism. Until the majority vocally shunned them, they could hide behind the rationale that what they were saying and doing had the tacit approval of a far wider majority who simply lacked the nerve to act as they did.
Update Glenn Greenwald writes today about another totalitarian on the extreme right, Harvey Mansfield, who in the Wall Street Journal online today sets out the militant's rationale for a totalitarian takeover:
The president takes an oath "to execute the Office of President" of which only one function is to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." In addition, he is commander-in-chief of the military, makes treaties (with the Senate), and receives ambassadors. He has the power of pardon, a power with more than a whiff of prerogative for the sake of a public good that cannot be achieved, indeed that is endangered, by executing the laws. . . .Greenwald counters with the words of Thomas Paine. "In America the Law is King. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other." As usual Glenn has a long and tightly written post and I'm not going to attempt to do it full justice here. Go read the whole thing.
In quiet times the rule of law will come to the fore, and the executive can be weak. In stormy times, the rule of law may seem to require the prudence and force that law, or present law, cannot supply, and the executive must be strong.
But, hearteningly, there are also conservatives who find this talk of coups and the suspension of law abhorrent. Dr. Steven Taylor and James Joyner are just two examples. But I hope they make it even clearer that there should be no more room under the conservative "big tent" for militant anti-democratic extremists.