If you’re reading the blogs lately you know that the Right – with President Bush and the rest of the chorus urging them on – has dramatically increased its campaign of calling those who disagree with them “traitors.” And now they have escalated to providing addresses and phone numbers and encouragement to their supporters to “take matters into their own hands.”
Glenn Greenwald writes,
The rhetoric of treason — accusing individuals and organizations of aiding and abetting our nation’s enemies and even waging war on this country — is a lit match. After all, the widely accepted penalty for traitors is execution, which is why it is such an inflammatory yet increasingly common accusation being hurled by the Right against their domestic “enemies” (for precisely the same reason, the favorite accusation of the World Church of the Creator was to label someone a “race traitor,” since everyone knows what should be done with traitors).
[. . .] As the Bush movement collapses, it is only to be expected that its more fevered adherents will resort to increasingly extremist rhetoric and tactics, out of frustration and anger, if for no other reason. The penetration of these thug tactics into increasingly mainstream venues on the Right is one of the more glaring, and more disturbing, developments of late.
Billmon, in Whiskey Bar: A House Divided writes,
Talk of disunion and civil war may seem like hyperbole. I’m sure it would certainly seem so to the vast majority of Americans who don’t think much about politics or culture and just want to get on with their lives. I’m sure most Spaniards felt the same way in the summer of 1936, just as most Americans did in the winter of 1860.
But the historical truth is that civil wars aren’t made by vast majorities, but by enraged and fearful minorities. Looking at America’s traditionalists and the modernists today, I see plenty of rage and fear, most, though hardly all, of it eminating from the authoritarian right. For now, these primal passions are still being contained within the boundaries of the conventional political process. But that process — essentially a system for brokering the demands of competing interest groups — isn’t designed to handle the stresses of a full-blown culture war.
Compared to most countries, America has been very lucky so far — those kind of passions have only erupted in massive bloodshed once (well, twice if you count the original revolution.) By definition, however, something that has already happened is no longer impossible. It’s easy for newspaper columnists to fantasize about disunited states, but only madmen would actually try to make them so. Unfortunately, the madmen are out there. It’s up to the rest of us to keep them under control.
It’s escalating, and the “mainstream” Republicans are part of the chorus.
Watch your backs.