Violent Words = Violent Action
A study from the Southern Poverty Law Center showed a growth in the number of extremist hate groups from 149 in 2008 to 512 in 2009, and 127 of them were militia groups. There is, in my opinion, a direct relationship between that increase and the incendiary language spoken on talk radio and in right-wing political sound bites.
Eugene Robinson wrote in the Washington Post that “For decades now, the most serious threat of domestic terrorism has come from the growing ranks of paranoid, anti-government hate groups that draw their inspiration, vocabulary, and anger from the far right… The danger of political violence in this country comes overwhelmingly from one direction— the right!
“The vitriolic, anti-government hate speech that is spewed on talk radio every day, and quite regularly at tea party rallies, is calibrated not to inform but to incite. Demagogues scream at people that their government is illegitimate, their country has been taken away, that their elected officails are traitors and their freedom is at risk. They (the Limbaughs and the Becks) have a right to free speech, which I will always defend. But they shouldn’t be surprised if some listeners take them literally.”
The St. Louis Post Dispatch editorial (referenced above) stated that a Southern Poverty Law Center report “warned of potential threats from violent right-wing groups…” The newspaper stated that these groups were encouraged by “incendiary rhetoric employed by politicians and conservative commentators who throw around phrases like ‘take back the country’, ‘reload’, ‘anti-American’, or ‘traitor’. Such rhetoric may not be intended to incite violence, but it can further inflame paranoid people on the radical fringe. Words are important. Words have meaning. Words should be used with care…”
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