10 April 2009

Pittsburgh: No ONE is to Blame

While I've amused myself over the past week watching to see if conspiracy theorists would respond to the report that the Pittsburgh shooter from last weekend was himself a conspiracy theorist by portraying him as an agent provocateur, my point has never been to blame Alex Jones or Infowars or Prison Planet specifically for the incident. I feel that I ought to emphasize this now that I've seen efforts in the Democratic media to blame the crime specifically on conservative commentators. In particular, Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin have been singled out, as if Beck's vague calls for an uprising or Malkin's promotion of the anti-Obama "Tea Party" movement were sufficient to pull the trigger in the shooter's mind.

I only know what these two people say indirectly, but I know that Keith Olbermann at MSNBC has been tiresome in his persecution of Beck for daring to dissociate himself from what happened in Pittsburgh. Olbermann is my link to that Democratic liberal mediaverse that seems capable of defining itself only in hateful opposition to the Republican "conservative" bloc. These are the people who inflate the right-wing talkers' ratings by tuning in so they can get mad, and Olbermann in particular boosts his own ratings by featuring Beck, O'Reilly, Limbaugh et al prominently in variations of Orwell's ten-minutes hate sessions.

This obsession with the talkers distorts the political landscape, allowing too many liberals to convince themselves that Victory will be the day that the radio blowhards shut up once and for all. If anything, the obsession seems to have gotten worse since Obama's election, as it seems that the Demophiles (pardon me for trying out neologisms today) can't stand the thought of anyone speaking ill of the new President, unless they do so themselves for any perceived "selling out" of the "progressive" agenda. The Pittsburgh shooter has become a convenient club for the GOP-phobes to beat the talkers with -- and they aren't necessarily wrong in general. The problem arises when you ascribe any one politician, talker or blogger with sufficient influence to transform a mere nut into a killer.

It would probably be more accurate, instead of saying that the Pittsburgh gunman is the product of Jones, or Beck, or Malkin, or whomever you abhor, to say that he is one of them. While all of the accused would be able to argue that the Pittsburgh suspect is too anti-Semitic for their tastes, the main point isn't whether he swears fealty to some particular ideological mentor, but that all of these people, and many more besides, espouse a reactionary, illiberal worldview that needs to be refuted, whatever the differences in nuance may be among individuals. Jones, for instance, no doubt thinks that the likes of Beck and Malkin are no less minions of the international bankers than Obama himself, while Beck and Malkin would most likely see Jones, a "9-11 truther," as a malicious crank. But they stand together in opposition to an ideal of civilization that requires government as regulators of social relations for everyone's sake while demanding more from civilization than the reactionaries' atavistic obsession with self-reliance and their every-man-for-himself ethos. There needs to be an intellectual war of ideas in this country, not more feuds among talking heads. Too many "Democraps" (to borrow a useful pejorative from Crhymethinc) seem to think that bad ideas will vanish if they can discredit the most prominent spokesmen for those ideas. I'd like to hope that the real solution goes the other way around. If we can skip the ad hominem attacks on certain talkers, and in fact immediately reduce their celebrity by ignoring them, and concentrate on changing ordinary people's minds, finding the right arguments that will break the spell of widespread anarcho-Reaganism, we might someday discover that all the blowhards are gone without anyone having raised a hand or a pitchfork against them. And we might find ourselves hearing less about mass shootings in the bargain.


d. eris said...

"pardon me for trying out neologisms today."

I liked 'mediaverse.' Here's one that occurred to me recently, on the basis of your 'bipolarchy,' to emphasize the bankers' stake in the duopoly charade: bipoligarchy.

Anonymous said...

As long as bad people exist, bad ideas will exist.

Samuel Wilson said...

D: Thanks for the compliment and the suggestion. "Bipolargarchy" might be even better," but that may be an aesthetic thing.

Crhymethinc: I don't necessarily disagree, but I hope that in some cases the process can run in reverse: overcome bad ideas and you might turn bad people good. But if you mean that "bad ideas" come from some people's innate depravity, the kind that isn't amenable to reason, more pessimism and sterner measures may be in order.