As a rule, I really quite enjoy learning new things. It keeps me on my toes and serves as a solid reminder that despite outward appearances, I really don't know everything.
Most of the time, the new things learned register little more than a check mark in the box beside "Well, I did not know that, but now I do." But I learned something last week that I still can't quite wrap my mind around.
Seems there are significant numbers of my colleagues who have no fucking clue what the right wing extremist radio and television hosts are actually saying.
I know. How could they not know? Mostly it appears that my very busy colleagues just don't have the time to keep up with the specifics of what's being said on the airwaves. More importantly, though, is what they tell me about how they set their priorities regarding what they pay attention to and what they ignore.
They don't have the time, they say, for the fringes. And those right-wing bloviator dudes, they're the fringes.
Coulda knocked me over with a feather, I'm tellin' ya. So let me get this straight. My beloved colleagues are so busy parsing what it means for the president and the first lady to take a date night and run up to New York for a show that they don't know that the talkers are poisoning the air waves with the most vile and ugly shit since, well, the presidential campaign. And apparently my collagues missed all that nastiness for the very same reason.
They think it's coming from the fringes, and therefore should be ignored.
What my colleagues seem to have overlooked is that the radical right -- the doctor killers, the gay bashers, the anti-immigrant crowd -- has taken over mainstream conservatism. They're not the fringe anymore, but my studious colleagues are still mired back in the 70s or 80s when the whackos were still considered whackos by all sides.
And that, my friends, is why we all know that Scott Roeder was an isolated individual acting completely on his own. Just like all the other right-wing idealogues who have taken their leaders' rants to heart over the years and taken a gun or explosives to take care of the situation.
"But how many times has that happened recently?" one colleague asked. They mean, of course, that violence has only rarely burst through the thin membrane that keeps it contained, and they're right about that. For now.
But if they're not paying attention to the Glenn Becks and the Lou Dobbses and the Bill O'Reillys and the Sean Hannitys and the Rush Limbaughs and the Michael Savages and the Michelle Malkins and the Ann Coulters, then they're missing something crucial. They did not just suddenly snap one day.
Theses guys who go shoot up a liberal Christian church one day because they don't like liberals aren't acting in a vacuum. They're acting on the what they've been told by their spiritual leaders about the vile, un-American and anti-Christian ways of the liberal. What choice do they have if they believe that they are right, absolutely right, and are backed by none other than god on this one?
But my colleagues, they're waiting for proof, solid evidence that when a right-wing extremist kills a doctor who provides abortions it was anything other than he was a disturbed individual who just went over the edge one day.
They might make a half-assed attempt to figure out what made the guy "snap," but the second they find something -- he lost his food stamps, his wife filed for divorce, he got in a fender-bender with a car bearing an Obama sticker -- that search is over. They found their reason.
My colleagues don't look at the atmosphere these people are breathing every day of their lives. These extremist attitudes would die off if they were truly isolated. They thrive on reinforcement from like-minded individuals -- particularly pronouncements from on high, coupled with a political leadership that won't challenge the bullshit and often participates in it.
We heard this same shit during the campaign, when my colleagues, deathly afraid of looking at their own participation in the creating a toxic atmosphere, signed on for the "both sides are doing it" campaign regarding the incredibly racist anti-Obama rallies that McCain-Palin rallies. And yes, there are some losers on the left who play those stupid games. But until I hear the liberals are stockpiling weapons and ammunition, stalking Operation Rescue employees and harassing them with images of women who died because they were not allowed to have an abortion and assassinating Randall Terry, then that argument has no standing here because there is no comparison.
I still don't know what to do about my ill-informed colleagues. Sadly, I guess it's just gonna take more violent death to bring them around.