The Becking of Gabrielle Giffords


At Talk to Action, the veteran watcher of white supremacist and anti-semitic groups Chip Berlet writes, The Becking of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. An excerpt:

From a moral viewpoint Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is the victim of demagogues such as Glenn Beck and his allies at Fox News and in the Tea Party Movement. This is not about legal liability but about moral culpability. This is about a nation that has lost its moral compass.Some of us progressive writers have been warning about this dangerous trend for several years. This includes my colleagues Fred Clarkson, David Neiwert, Sara Robinson, John Amato, Adele Stan, and others. We blame right-wing demagogues like Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter and a culture that tolerates their vicious targeting of scapegoats. 

Now the shootings have created a new word floating across cyberspace: “becking.” To be “becked” is to be held up as such an evil and destructive person that someone, somewhere, will interpret it as a call to eliminate that problem through violence.

I made similar assertions after the murder of Dr. Tiller in a post at Religion Dispatches, “Who Will Rid Me of This Troublesome Doctor?”: Bill O’Reilly, King Henry II, and George Tiller” Here is what I wrote then:

On the day Dr. Tiller died, May 31, 2009, Gabrielle Winant on Salon traced O’Reilly’s relentless campaign against the murdered doctor. Winant wrote that some of O’Reilly’s characterizations of Tiller replicated “ancient conservative, paranoid stories: a decadent, permissive and callous elite tolerates moral monstrosities that every common-sense citizen just knows to be awful. Conspiring against our folk wisdom, O’Reilly says, the sophisticates have shielded Tiller from the appropriate, legal consequences for his deeds.”

So, concludes Winant: “O’Reilly didn’t tell anyone to do anything violent, but he did put Tiller in the public eye, and help make him the focus of a movement with a history of violence against exactly these kinds of targets.”

The analysts at Media Matters for America have been forcefully arguing the case against the “Emerging Culture of Paranoia” and the role of “Right-Wing Media” in fostering a toxic climate in which violence is more likely. Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert, who suggested after the Tiller murder that “O’Reilly and Fox News will have more right-wing vigilantism to explain,” selected some of O’Reilly’s most egregious statements demonizing Dr. Tiller. …

Hannah Arendt described the process of demagoguery leading to violence as it occurs in totalitarian regimes ranging from Hitler to Stalin. The demagogue frames the target, but leaves off a direct call for violence. But the message is clear. Unstable people often act first. Political ideologues, however, can be mobilized as the process continues to act as a group. Sara Robinson and I have been tracking the number of political murders since the inauguration of President Barack Obama. [See link below].

The people who “becked” Rep. Gabrielle Giffords began with a premise of dualism or Manicheaism, and then constructed a frame that uses demonization, scapegoating, and conspiracism to divide the world into a good ‘us’ and a bad ‘them’. …

Following the shooting of Rep. Giffords we once again heard calls for civility and pundits pointing out that hateful rhetoric is aimed at Republicans and conservatives by Democrats and their lefty allies. This is true, and I do object to liberals who hurl buckets of mud as we on the left are being buried in an avalanche of shit from right-wing demagogues with national television and radio programs, websites, and newspaper columns. The comparison is true in the manipulated facts yet false in the claim of equivalence.

Peter Daou writes about the bogus equivalency between right/left extremism in his post Gabriel Giffords and the rightwing hate machine.”The targeting of political scapegoats in our nation today is overwhelmingly coming from the Political Right. To claim otherwise is a lie easily debunked by even a modicum of research. A big lie. …

We who must speak out are not faced with death here in our nation this week. We are faced with our visage in a moral mirror looking back at our conscience which is telling us that we must speak out against the crescendo of totalitarian demagoguery. We must oppose the becking of our society.

How many more must die before we wake up and put a stop to this terrible trend?

Another important read on this subject is the 18-month-old Tragedy At The Holocaust Museum: Stand Up To Terrorism by Sara Robinson.

See also Marta Evry’s The “Becking” Of America: How Right-Wing Media and Politicians Incite Violence at Venice for Change.

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