When the Political Becomes Personal

I’m promoting this back to the top because of a great article by James Taranto on January 27th. Taranto writes:

“America’s liberal left is preoccupied with salacious fantasies of political violence. These take two forms: dreams of leftist insurrection, and nightmares of reactionary bloodshed. The “mainstream” media ignore or suppress the former type of fantasy and treat the latter as if it reflected reality. This produces a distorted narrative that further feeds the left’s fantasies and disserves those who expect the media to provide truthful information.”

He continues:

“Even odder, many on the left have advanced a false narrative in which the Tea Party is violent. The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg did so in a column last week, in which he was still trying to justify the media’s falsely blaming the right for the attempted murder of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Hertzberg claims that the shooting “took place amid a two-year eruption of shocking vituperation and hatred, virtually all of it coming from people who call themselves conservatives,” and that “these realities, and not the malevolence of liberal opportunists, were why, in the immediate aftermath of the crime, the ‘national conversation’ focussed on the nation’s poisonous political and rhetorical climate.”

This is bunk. The “two-year eruption of shocking vituperation and hatred” is a media myth…”

Read it all here.

Michael Bowers’ pictorial roundup of left-wing hate is here.

What follows below the fold is mine…

Six people died on Saturday, January 8th. One was critically injured. Seventeen more were hurt.

Gabrielle Giffords, Congressional representative of the people of the Eighth District of the State of Arizona, was seriously injured by a bullet to the head and faces a very difficult road to recovery. This senseless violence has sharpened the edges of division around the blogosphere and the country. By all accounts Congresswoman Giffords is a decent and caring person and did nothing to provoke or welcome such an incident. Congresswoman Giffords is the focus of the attention due to her position and this political division but we should never forget the names of the innocents who were brutally killed.

The deceased have been identified as: John Roll (63), Dorothy Morris (76), Dorwin Stoddard (76), Christina Greene (9), Phyllis Schneck (79) and Gabriel Zimmerman (30). May God bless and comfort the families of these innocent victims of a senseless and brutal crime.

How do you take a senseless and vile situation and make it even more disgusting?

You immediately repackage it for political advantage.

Palin. Beck. Limbaugh. Anti-illegal immigration. Opposition to health care. Right wing talk radio. Every single one has been targeted (if I’m still allowed to say that) in the past 72 hours as a direct and proximate cause of the shooting even though there is not a shred of evidence to support any connection whatsoever.

Why? Several have asked the how we got to this point in our country. Several wonder if our political sphere has always been so vitriolic and acidic.

It hasn’t always been this way.

What has changed is the evolution of the Neo-Progressives. This Progressive V 2.0 is exemplified by the wunderkinds in the liberal and Democratic universe, people like Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga of the Daily Kos, political operatives like Mark Penn, former Hillary Clinton advisor, Anthony Weiner, Democratic representative from New York’s Ninth District, former Florida District 8, Alan Grayson and yes, our current president, Barack Obama. These people aren’t the same as the old Progressives, people like Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer or even Teddy Kennedy. They are impatient, rigidly partisan and driven by a singular ideological view. They are on the political left and they are Alinskyites.

Saul Alinsky was an American community organizer and writer. He is generally considered to be the founder of modern community organizing. His ideas were later adapted by some US college students and other young organizers in the late 1960s and formed part of their strategies for organizing on campus and beyond. Time magazine once wrote that “American democracy is being altered by Alinsky’s ideas,” and conservative author William F. Buckley said he was “very close to being an organizational genius.”

And the reasons for “organizing”? Simply put, it is the acquisition of power, the ability to control and the transformation of society. Supreme among these is the acquisition of power because power makes the other two possible.

In Alinsky’s book, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals, he promulgates this, oft quoted dictum, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” What we are seeing in the current political landscape is this simple four step concept in full bodied application. The personal has been made political and the political made personal.

Charles Krauthammer provided some valuable insight in a column he wrote back in his Washington Post column titled, The Last Refuge of a Liberal :

Ah, the people, the little people, the small-town people, the “bitter” people, as Barack Obama in an unguarded moment once memorably called them, clinging “to guns or religion or” — this part is less remembered — “antipathy toward people who aren’t like them.”

That’s a polite way of saying: clinging to bigotry. And promiscuous charges of bigotry are precisely how our current rulers and their vast media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.

— Resistance to the vast expansion of government power, intrusiveness and debt, as represented by the Tea Party movement? Why, racist resentment toward a black president.

— Disgust and alarm with the federal government’s unwillingness to curb illegal immigration, as crystallized in the Arizona law? Nativism.

— Opposition to the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history, as expressed in Proposition 8 in California? Homophobia.

— Opposition to a 15-story Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero? Islamophobia.

Bigot…Racist…Nativist…Homophobe…Islamophobe. These are words that can be applied to movements or masses with very little effect because it is difficult to ascribe these terms to a general aggregation of people. One racist in a crown of a thousand does not make that group racist. These are not “group” words; these are very specific and individual. These are meant to hurt. They are the equivalent of plunging a dagger straight into the beating heart of the selected target.

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

When the personal becomes political, nothing off limits and rational debate is ended. Emotions enter the equation and emotions are far from logical. Anger, hate and frustration are not rational emotions. We become reactionary, thoughtless, only focused on where the next attack is coming from. They cause us to strike at the one who strikes at us.

Religious Conservatives are ridiculed for our belief in God – ever seen the atheist screed about the “Great Flying Spaghetti Monster“?  We are attacked for our reliance on, and reverence for, the US Constitution. We are attacked for our stance on abortion. We are called heartless, greedy, selfish…basically one step below Neanderthals.

Conservatives have just been falsely accused in a blood libel of “creating an environment of hate” that facilitated the murder of 6 people (including a federal judge) and the injury of 18 others, Congresswoman Giffords being in the latter group.

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

The environment created by the Neo-Progressive Alinskyites is pervasive and ubiquitous. The target was acquired, it was frozen in place by false hypothesis, it was personalized via illicit language and terminology and now polarization is almost complete. The target was not just conservatives – it was all that aren’t Neo-Progressives.

It is tiring. I know that people are tired. I am. There is a feeling that average people just want it to stop. Conservatives are tired of the constant siege – moderates are tired of the political stasis that the left and right being at loggerheads brings. That is why we see the “both sides do it” and “we need to move on” comments come up so frequently. People feel constantly under attack because there is no refuge from it once it becomes personal. There is fallout, collateral damage. People just want it to be over. They want to know what the endgame is.

Is there an endgame?

Of course there is. There are two possible outcomes. One is that the Neo-Progressive Alinskyites win. They gain and hold power. Politics becomes permanently the province of the personal and penetrates every aspect of public and private life. It has to; this is the only way that the Neo-Progressives can hold onto power. In an Alinskyite universe, something like the current climate will always exist.

The second is that we break their hold. We depersonalize the political by focusing on the facts. We eliminate half-truths and spin and deal with the real issues. We eliminate opinion masquerading as fact, drop the slick messaging and speak frankly and truthfully to each other. We then can depolarize. One of the effects of polarization is that we don’t share the same goals anymore. Today, we are not arguing over different tactics to achieve the same goal, we are arguing over the goals themselves.

Pick the target. Unfreeze it. Depersonalize it. Depolarize it.

Put Alinsky and the Neo-Progressives in the crosshairs. Let’s end this.

(Note: any use of military/eliminationist rhetoric in this piece was purely intentional.)

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