A Further Perspective

I’ve Got Your “Inflammatory Rhetoric” Right Here

Facing up to Facebook last Saturday.

By 1.10.11

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If you were logged in to Facebook on Saturday after the shooting in Arizona, you may have noticed a trend in your newsfeed. I did, anyway. Many of my leftist Facebook friends were collectively engaged in assuming and articulating the Tea Party's culpability. More specifically, they blamed, as the media eventually did as well, the "inflammatory rhetoric" of the right wing.

The arguments scrolling down my newsfeed went something like this: Of course, there are psychotic nutjobs on both the left and the right, but it's the leadership of the Republicans and the Tea Party that are responsible for this violence in Arizona. Right-wing leaders knowingly stoke the nutjobs with "inflammatory rhetoric."

As evidence, a cacophony of links to Sarah Palin's 2010 election map appeared… a map that targeted vulnerable Democrats with crosshairs. One Facebook friend summarized the Left's reaction to Palin's map this way:

F[---] YOU SARAH PALIN! REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS' BLOOD IS ON YOUR COMPLETELY INCOMPETENT HANDS!

This comment seemed rather inflammatory, as Facebook rhetoric goes. But shortly after that, another inflammatory example of rhetoric was posted by another friend on my wall:

The GOP cannot deal with a black man as president period. This hateful rhetoric is trumpeted by FOX 24/7 without being Truly condemned and halted by the Republicans...

And, again, when a third Facebook friend described Tea Partiers as being in the market for "torches, pitchforks and sickles."

Eventually, the argument pinning the blame for the shooting on the Tea Party was capped off with this confident claim: Leaders on the Left just don't regularly engage in this type of violent, inflammatory rhetoric.

Not inflammatory rhetoric on its own, but it did get me to thinking.

And so, I listed on my Facebook wall the following links, each prefaced with a simple question. One after the other. You can decide for yourself if leaders on the Left would ever engage in such inflammatory rhetoric. That is, if we can agree on what "inflammatory rhetoric" actually is. Apparently, if leaders on the Left have expressed this rhetoric, but claims are made insisting it doesn't happen, then there is some doubt as to its inflammatory nature.

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

Obama to Latinos: "Punish" Your "Enemies" in the Voting Booth

… In a radio interview that aired on Univision on Monday, Mr. Obama sought to assure Hispanics that he would push an immigration overhaul after the midterm elections, despite fierce Republican opposition.

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

Matthews: 'Someone's Going To Jam a CO2 Pellet Into Rush's Head And He's Going To Explode'

Analogizing Rush Limbaugh to a James Bond villain, Chris Matthews today fantasized: "at some point somebody's going to jam a CO2 pellet into his head and he's going to explode like a giant blip."

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

Libtalker Calls For Deaths Of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly

While the right is under fire for supposedly inciting violence against congressional Democrats, libtalkers have pumped up the rhetoric tenfold. Here, Mike Malloy calls for the deaths of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck.

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

Krugman: Hang Lieberman in Effigy, But Don't You Dare "Target" Democratic Seats

The Democratic National Committee emails reporters a lot of stories everyday in an attempt to spin a narrative. The narrative of the week, of course, is the supposedly hateful and violent rhetoric espoused by Obamacare opponents. Paul Krugman's column today, like most days, can be stitched together...

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

WaPo Civility: 'Knock Every Racist and Homophobic Tooth Out of Their Cro-Magnon Heads'

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

Foot In Mouth Syndrome

NY State Comptroller Alan Hevesi apologizes for a remark made at the Queens College commencement ceremony. 
NY State Comptroller's remark: Charles Schumer would "put a bullet between the president's eyes if he could get away with it."

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney: Mike Malloy Calls For Violence Against Matt Drudge

Hey Brian, hasn't it been awhile since CNN had nutcase Malloy on their network? They're probably trying to forget he ever sullied their airwaves with his presence.

MALLOY: Drudge? Aw, Drudge, somebody ought to wrap a strong Republican entrail around his neck and hoist him up about six feet in the air and watch him bounce.

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

Avatar director wants to 'shoot it out' with 'asshole' Glenn Beck and climate-denier 'boneheads.'

Avatar director James Cameron thinks global-warming deniers are "boneheads" who are "going to have to be answerable" for their denialism.

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

Ed Schultz: Hateful?

On his March 29 radio program, Ed Schultz insisted he hasn't said anything "hateful" within the last year on his MSNBC program.

SCHULTZ: You're damn right Dick Cheney's heart's a political football. We ought to rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him.

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

Time for Obama to go 'gangsta' on GOP

Civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer made famous the phrase, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired." For me, I'm sick and tired of Democrats having power and being unwilling to use it. I've...

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

Delahunt Glad Addington is Al-Qaida Target

At a House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution hearing, Rep. Delahunt (D-MA) expressed gladness that David Addington is now a publicly televised target of Al-Aqaeda.

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

[AFL-CIO President Richard] Trumka thanked Pelosi for driving ObamaCare 'down the Republicans' throat and out their backside.'

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

Keith Olbermann Compares Obama's Tax Compromise with Nazi Appeasement

He might deny it, using a lace doily of a fig leaf that would embarrass even Rush Limbaugh, but Countdown host Keith Olbermann's "Special Comment" Tuesday night heavily featured that most Godwinian of rhetorical devices: the Nazi comparison. Angrily responding to President Obama's compromise on the Bush Tax Cuts, Olbermann quoted Winston Churchill extensively, ran down a laundry list of missed opportunities and broken promises, and even lent support to a primary challenge to the President.

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

John Kerry's Only Joke is a Botched Apology

Democratic Senator John Kerry's joke causes himself to be distanced by his own party. White House dreams all but evaporated, just like his humor.

KERRY: I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone.

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

Nobel Peace Winner Wants To Kill Bush

From the Australian: Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate 1976, with Lech Walesa and the Dalai Lama, signing the parchment ratifying the start of the work of...

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

CBS Apologizes for Talk Show's Violent Bush Joke

CBS and the producers of "The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn" apologized Wednesday for putting the words "Snipers Wanted" under footage of George W. Bush's acceptance speech at the Republican…

Did this qualify as "inflammatory rhetoric"?

Roseanne Barr-slapping the face of Nancy Pelosi

BARR: I will walk right up to Nancy Pelosi and slap her right across the face, as I will, as I will about everybody else in this damn government.

Many of you are probably thinking the take-away here is that I need to re-think some of my Facebook relationships. But I think the bigger lesson is that, until we all can all agree on just what "inflammatory rhetoric" is, and who is capable of expressing it, Facebook newsfeeds across the country may continue to unwittingly propagate, well, inflammatory rhetoric.

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About the Author

Stephanie Herman, the Holistic Republican and
 co-founder of Rightgrrl.com, runs a Facebook Page called Exposing Progressive Corporatism.