Gregg Smith has a long post today at the Electric City Weblog attacking theMontana Human Rights Network over an opinion piece published in that known leftist rag, the Great Falls Tribune. While I know that the attack fits a common conservative narrative in Montana—that an organization dedicated to fighting discrimination—is somehow a dangerous, conspiracy against the citizens of the state, its fundamental arguments rely on deliberate ignorance about the facts.
Smith suggests that he’s never seen any hint of racism or homophobia in his encounters with the Tea Party:
I’ve met many retired veterans, politically engaged younger people, and…not one said anything inappropriate about homosexuals, ‘people of color,’ or anyone else.
Perhaps Gregg should read a newspaper or use the Google to research the Tea Party locally and nationally. I’m not sure how Gregg missed Tim Ravndal’s ouster from and subsequent appointment to positions in Lewis and Clark County TEA Party positions. Perhaps Gregg doesn’t feel that joking about the brutal murder of a gay college student is homophobic, but to suggest that the local TEA Party movement doesn’t have homophobic elements is to ignore their rhetoric, signage, and membership.
Surely, these posters were also not about race, either. No doubt references to white slavery and Jewish control are being blown out of proportion by the liberal media.
Next, Gregg moves to the game of false equivalency being played by conservatives when it comes to violent rhetoric. To imagine or pretend that the level of violent discourse used by the Right and the Left in this country is the same depends on willful ignorance. A Republican candidate for Vice President used a map with crosshairs to indicate “targets” in an election, all while relying on rhetoric about reloading. Montana’s Republican candidate for Attorney General posted an image of the Democratic logo riddled with bullet holes, calling it a “target.” Daily, logic and reason are assaulted by hate-filled speech on talk radio to an army of eager listeners who become less informed about the issues and angrier every day.
Violence and violent rhetoric in the United States is not exclusively Right or Left, but to argue that the side dominated by Palin and Limbaugh, Cheney and Savage isn’t more prone towards violent rhetoric is absurd on its face. What’s more, this rhetoric is having an impact: 13% of of TEA Party members believe that “violence against the current American government is justified.” 13%. Maybe Gregg just needs to talk to a few more people at his next TEA Party gathering.
On a final note, I wish that Gregg would please lay off trying to set the narrative about Jared Loughner’s motivations before anyone knows what really happened. Greg writes:
We are all in agreement about one, fundamental fact: Jared Lee Loughner was a psychopath, not a disgruntled TEA Party minion.
Given the conservative outrage about a rush to judgment in the incident, wouldn’t it be prudent to wait to hear what Loughner has to say, rather than relying on third-hand psychiatric evaluations? Come on. This isn’t Terri Schiavo, who could be diagnosed by Republican members of Congress from 1000 miles away.