Keith O on the Accessory


Sorry. I’m calling bullshit.

Let’s be honest. How many times has Olbermann called out Cheney, or Dubya, or Rumsfeld as being war criminals? Or tagging Bush with the deaths of 4,000+ troops?

Surely, there is a distinction to be made; he’s sought impeachment and imprisonment for these guys and their band of unmerry men. And he hasn’t advocated violence — not once, not ever, never. But the broadcast demonization critique has to cut both ways, if it has any meaning at all.

It so happens that Keith, broadly speaking, is closer to the point of view of virtually all of the regulars here than O’Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh, Coulter, Beck, Savage, Malkin et al will ever be. (Most of the firebreathers on the left, of course, have staked out Congressional hearings for ersatz guerrila theater that would make the freshmen on campus selling copies of Workers’ Vanguard Socialist World Defender Review Weekly blanche. The right, on the other hand, have money and loudspeakers. A better strategy, methinks. Anyway.) This doesn’t insulate him from the criticism he levied tonight.

He pointed a finger, but three fingers were pointing etc. etc.

@chicago bureau: While I’m sure examples are at hand, remember that George Tiller was a private citizen without Secret Service protection.

Also recall that the American Radical Left hasn’t pulled off a decent bombing since my childhood. And while I’m prone to fantasizing about medieval torture devices worthy of Dick Cheney, I’m not addressing a crowd of Florida yahoos with cries of “Kill him!” in the back.

Again, you’ll probably find a decent comparative example, since Keef’s a self-admitted hothead. But be careful about falling into the trap of false equivalence.

Say, anybody else here remember the shooting of George Wallace?

More broadly: In the 60s and 70s, there were indeed armed leftist groups in America, who inflicted actual harm with stirring rationalizations. (Remember that “baby killer” referred to returning vets long before it referred to abortionists.)

Imagine they’re still around today, with plenty of camp followers crowding their website forums at SmashState and TownBurn. Folks arming themselves for the real revolution, the one that won’t be televised. We’d like to think we’d be as critical of them as we are of the Right, don’t we?

Nor am I sure anyone here would have been cheering on the kiddies in Seattle. And perhaps we would have got around to mocking the kiddies in St. Paul, but that week’s events took a very distracting turn.

So, yeah, there’s a distinction to be made. And it’s an important one.

nojo: While I’m sure examples are at hand, remember that George Tiller was a private citizen without Secret Service protection.


As I noted, there are parallels to be drawn. I don’t think there isn’t much difference between calling someone a baby killer and calling someone a warmonger, or a war criminal — in that these phrases express virulent, extreme levels of protest against what is considered by the speaker to be (rightly or wrongly) an immoral act, in terms that when taken to the ultimate conclusion compel direct, violent action in the minds of the insane.

(Read into this, too, actions by neo-Nazis and skinheads, environmental extremists like the ELF, Fred Phelps et al and other assorted idiots — the difference there being the fact that they do not host nightly news programs except in their own minds, which are probably quite hilarious despite the toxic levels of crazy.)

But shooting people is out of bounds. And shooting people in a church is out of bounds. Period. This guy who shot Dr. Tiller was so far gone that he forgot those two key points. Fox News didn’t lead him to do this — he was already there through listening to Randall Terry and Flip Benham and everybody else on the fringe, years before Fox News existed. But Fox News didn’t help matters, surely.

I think the main thing to keep in mind is that — as Keith said last night — words mean something. Torture means something. He actually fumbled around a bit talking to Sully, saying “pro-life” in one breath and switching back to “anti-abortion” in the other — those words are fraught with meaning to those deeply invested in the issue.

So the next time Keith says something about Bush, Cheney and others, he should remember his own criticism and step lightly. (Fortunately, his commentaries are usually backed up with hard facts and not pure invective. This is a difference between him and O’Reilly, for sure.)

[/navel gazing]

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