New In The Phoenix -- Rhetoric And Violence

In this week's issue of the Boston Phoenix -- in print tomorrow, online now -- I write about the recent indications of anti-government violence (which have continued since I put the article to bed), and the conservative rhetoric that helps stoke those flames.

Forget the occasional use of violent metaphors, or Sarah Palin's cross-haired targets; the problem lies in "responsible" conservatives using rhetoric describing the current government as illegitimate, unconstitutional, tyrannical, and totalitarian. That's what provides the few disturbed people their target, and their justification, for violent resistance.

With the Tea Party protests coming up on April 15, followed by the April 19 anniversary of the Waco tragedy, there is reason to be nervous.

Just to be clear, I am not trying to paint conservatives, or Tea Party activists, as violent extremists. I'm a big fan of people getting out and airing their disagreements with their government -- as I wrote in this space a year ago, prior to the first major national Tea Party action. 

In fact, I'd like to quote some of what I wrote then:

I've seen a lot of political protests... Most ultimately have little impact toward the organizers' goals -- in fact, they are often detrimental to the cause -- but that's not surprising, because people tend to protest when they feel they have no avenue for effecting the change they believe in.

... I suspect that the nation-wide "Tax Day Tea Party" events will be pretty well-attended, so I wanted to pass along what info I have about the events in the area, for those who wish to participate. The protests have their failings, and there will surely be much to criticize about them, from incoherent messaging to overly rabid participants. That's OK. Most of the Tea Party organizers, and participants, are less experienced in this sort of thing than groups whose protests have sometimes suffered the exact same flaws.

Indeed, it might be a nice outcome if those on the right come away with more empathy for the left-wing protesters they have mocked in the past, and if those on the left come away with more understanding of how their protests can look to those with opposing views.

Of course, that's not the outcome we got.

The article is here: 'Tea' Is For Terrorism:  When even the most ‘legitimate’ voices of the right validate dangerously unhinged anti-government rhetoric — DUCK!

Accompanying my piece is an article by my colleague Chris Faraone: Tea for 10,000? A re-loading Sarah Palin takes aim at Boston Common


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