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Does right-wing political rhetoric spawn right-wing terrorism?

Liberal Morals and a gun

In the wake of the shootings in Las Vegas this past weekend, Paul Waldman raises a TROUBLING QUESTION:

What I’m about to say will raise some hackles, but we need to talk about it. It’s long past time for prominent conservatives and Republicans to do some introspection and ask whether they’re contributing to outbreaks of right-wing violence.

Before I go on, let me be clear about what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that Republican members of Congress bear direct responsibility for everything some disturbed person from the same side of the political spectrum as them might do. I’m not saying that they are explicitly encouraging violence. Nor am I saying that you can’t find examples of liberals using hyperbolic, irresponsible words.

But what I am saying is this: there are some particular features of conservative political rhetoric today that help create an atmosphere in which violence and terrorism can germinate.

The most obvious component is the fetishization of firearms and the constant warnings that government will soon be coming to take your guns. But that’s only part of it. Just as meaningful is the conspiracy theorizing that became utterly mainstream once Barack Obama took office. If you tuned into one of many national television and radio programs on the right, you heard over and over that Obama was imposing a totalitarian state upon us.

 

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