Monday, January 10, 2011

Palin e-mails Beck claiming to hate violence, war

Sarah Palin reached out to Glenn Beck over the weekend, and Beck read some of their email exchange on his radio show this morning.

"Sarah, as you know, peace is always the answer. I know you are felling the same heat, if not much more on this," Beck wrote.

Beck expressed concern about Palin's safety, and urged her to hire the same Los Angeles-based security firm that he uses.

The rhetoric of both Beck and Palin has been cited by both liberals and some of the mainstream media as examples of the kind of overheated political discourse that, if not directly connected to the Tucson shooting, has created an environment in which a similar thing might happen again.

"I hate violence," Palin wrote back. "I hate war. Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence."

Let me be clear about something. Speaking just for myself -- and certainly not for others who have spoken out against Palin, Beck, and other right-wing demagogues the past few days, though I suspect they would agree with me -- I do not believe that Palin directly incited violence or was directly behind the Arizona shooting. I wrote this in my first post on the shooting Saturday evening.

My point, and the point many of us have made, is that many on the right, including Palin and other extremely influential conservatives / Republicans, need at long last to be held responsible both for their rhetoric of violence, often eliminationist, and for promoting an extremist ideology that provides the dark background context -- indirectly, perhaps -- for Saturday's incident. As I wrote on Sunday, it isn't so much the rhetoric as the rhetoric combined with the ideology. Therein lies the problem, and it was a cauldron that was bound to overflow.

Is Palin a woman of peace? Maybe, in some way, and yet her views hardly reflect that. She supports war as the answer to some of America's problems, or as the answer to advancing America's interests, she promotes the Bush-Cheney national security state, and she advocates the use of torture. And of course her rhetoric, as we heard in her rabble-rousing speeches during the '08 campaign, as well as last year, is hardly "peaceful."

Does Beck really believe that "peace is always the answer"? Well, he may believe that he does, but obviously he doesn't. He may be less of a military interventionist / fetishist than others on the right, including Palin, but he, too, uses the rhetoric of violence against his perceived foes, whom he trumps us as enemies of America, as traitors and heretics to be destroyed. And of course his paranoid conspiracy theorizing, along with his rabid fearmongering, as we hear day after day, night after night, on his radio and TV shows, is hardly "peaceful."

Look, I admit, they're saying the right things -- even if Palin's minions are scrubbing her website clean of any and all evidence of violent propagandizing (including against Rep. Giffords). And maybe their followers, and specifically some of their more unhinged followers, will take their current peace-loving claims seriously. If so, that would be a very good thing, something we need a lot more of on the right.

But I just don't believe them, either of them. Palin has been professing her innocence, but she is not about to change. And neither, of course, is Beck.

They may claim to love peace and hate war, but their ideology of terror will continue to be their foundation, will continue to find an eager and receptive audience among conservatives, and within the Republican Party, and will continue to wreak havoc on America and the world.

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