Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jack Kelly: Ideological Contortionist (Warning: Strong Language)

In his column in this Sunday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jack Kelly tries to argue that the real source of violent rhetoric in the United States today is the liberal movement. He tries to link just about every major shooting or terror incident of the past two years to liberal ideology.

My Gut Reaction: According to the website SourceWatch, Kelly makes much of the fact that he served in the Marines and the Special Forces in his official biography. Just goes to show why they're paid to fight, not to think.

Analysis: It's difficult to know where to begin mocking Kelly's article, as it is strewn with statements of varying levels of stupidity. Perhaps we should start with his comments about the program Democracy Now!, which he characterizes as an obscure radio show. As even a cursory look at Democracy Now's website will reveal, it is both a television show and a radio show that plays on 900 stations across the country, making it one of the largest independent media operations in the United States. Not bad for an "obscure left wing radio program."

Things start to get funny when Kelly paints Jared Lee Loughner as a leftist largely based on the fact that he smoked pot and owned a book by Karl Marx. He conveniently omits the fact that Loughner had at least tenuous connections to the group American Renaissance, a white supremacist organization whose founder at one point spoke at Loughner's college. This linkage has been documented by such radical sources as the Department of Homeland Security and the Christian Science Monitor. He also listed Hitler's Mein Kampf as one of his favorite books, another sign of his liberal credentials.

Kelly descends even deeper into comic territory when he attempts to attribute just about every major act of political violence over the past two years to liberalism. The most laugh inducing paragraph in this section is when he depicts James von Brunn, the lunatic who attacked the National Holocaust Museum, as an enemy of conservatism. Never mind the fact that von Brunn was an avowed white supremacist who claimed that President Obama was not an American. Or the fact that he posted on the conservative website Free Republic, which quietly deleted his writings after the shooting. Very liberal guy, Mr. von Brunn.

Kelly then proceeds to shoot his argument in the foot. Having argued against the possibility that violent right wing rhetoric could produce killings, he then claims that criticism of Sarah Palin by figures such as Scott Simon of NPR has resulted in an increase of death threats against Sarah Palin. So violent right wing ranting, complete with gun imagery, is perfectly fine, but even moderate criticism of Republicans by left wingers is an incendiary act.

Just how fucking stupid do you think your readers are, Mr. Kelly?

What Mr. Kelly's argument represents is a thinly veiled concern among right wingers that their own violent calls to action could be turned against them. Even though it is highly unlikely that President Obama or any of the cowards who make up the Democratic leadership would be willing to take a truly hard line with the conservatives over this issue, there is nothing to stop the left wing netroots from adopting the right's rhetorical tactics. What's good for the goose may also be good for the gander.

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