How Afraid Are You?
Threats of violence are stinking up the air in America -- and they need to be taken seriously. With the passage of health care reform by the Democrats, right-wing leaders and followers -- whether they're Republicans, conservatives, Fox News personalities, or the rank and file of the Tea Party movement -- have become collectively unhinged, all at once.
As the rancor explodes, it becomes increasingly clear that the fight over health care has less to do with the topic at hand than with the changing face of America -- and those who interpret that change as a threat to their own power and identity. We are in for tough times, as the right gets more desperate with the growing sense that the world is passing it by.
We know what will happen. With Fox News orchestrating, other corporate media sensationalize sporadic violence and rabblerousing rhetoric with little or no analysis.
So far, we've seen repulsive actions -- racist and homophobic slurs aimed at civil right heroes and legislative leaders on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, bricks crashing through the office windows of congressional Democrats, who also find death threats in their voice mail.
We've heard some of the most obscene, and yes, absurd, language ever uttered in American politics. On the day of the health care vote, Republican members of Congress egged on their verbal goon squads seated in the galleries, even as Capitol Police forced them out for their heckling.
AlterNet's Tana Ganeva cited 10 subsequent right-wing freak-outs in response to the House vote for President Obama's health care bill, including Rush Limbaugh telling his listeners they are in a "death match with Hitler."
"We need to defeat those bastards," Limbaugh said. "We need to wipe them out." Fox's Glenn Beck compared the health care bill to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Hindenburg disaster, while shock jock Neal Boortz said, "Today will do more damage than 9/11."
Constant Pushback is Needed
AlterNet is constantly pushing back against violent right-wing rhetoric. We make the connections between the elected Republicans and their storm troopers, while the corporate media is content to pretend right-wing violence and rancid rhetoric are isolated or part of some fringe.
AlterNet not only covers the right wing; we work hard to spread the word about the dangers represented by the right, and the powerful forces behind it. We've had dozens of articles in the past few months reaching millions of readers. Our reporters appear on radio and TV, and our content is spread throughout the Internet, on Facebook, Twitter and linked to by blogs of all stripes.
But we can't continue to do the job without your help. We must become more reader-supported than ever before. Significant grant money is a thing of the past. I know you value independent media and investigative reporting. I know you don't trust the corporate media to do the job.
We need to raise $50,000 by April 15, in order to maintain a stable budget, and continue to investigate the Tea Party and the rest of the extreme right. So far, we are at $14,800. In 25 articles and exposes, Adele Stan, our Washington bureau chief, has probed the Tea Party's violence-prone allies and their links to the Republican Party and Fox News, which profits from the hysteria it provokes. That is the coverage you will be supporting.
There is much, much more to do.
Can we count on you to help us shine a spotlight on right-wing violence? The more we know about the potential violence bubbling up, the more we need to summon our courage and redouble our efforts to take on this threat to our families, our children and to the progress we have made as a nation.
The revenge language and imagery is ratcheting up. Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele called on Republicans to put Nancy Pelosi "on the firing line." Sarah Palin, via Twitter, told her followers to "reload" and "aim" for Democrats, directing people to her Web site, which features a map dotted with rifle-scope crosshairs over congressional districts held by Democrats.
As language expert Jeffrey Feldman of Frameshop noted on AlterNet, Palin recast the concepts of political organizing as an armed offensive. "'Campaigning' is re-imagined as a counter assault on a war battlefield.Palin re-imagines the U.S. map as a military kill list," Feldman writes. "Engaging in election politics is framed as violent assault."
Standing up to right-wing violence is everyone's responsibility. At AlterNet we want to give you the facts: investigative reporting about how the right is organizing on the ground and who takes part in its coalition of gun-nuts, nativists and everyday people -- as well as analysis of the language and media used to advance the right-wing cause. But we can't do it without you!
Will you help us meet our goal? We're eager to get our reporters out into the field to report on the angry right as campaign season progresses, and tempers become ever more frayed.
We know times are tough, but they're only going to get tougher if the right has its way with our government and society. Don't let them take us back to the hateful and heartless ways of their corporate masters. Give what you can, knowing you're helping to do your part in this vital struggle.
Executive Editor, AlterNet.org
P.S.: We recently launched AlterNet's Vision section, to put special emphasis on solutions and to highlight the good work done by progressives. Not all news need be bad! Many readers are pleased with this initiative. But solving the big problems we face doesn't absolve us of the responsibility to push back when racism and violence rear their ugly heads. Yes, we can be determined and hopeful that we can make a better world, AND we can be tough and not give an inch when it comes to demagoguery and hate. That's our job at AlterNet -- to be smart and cantankerous, tough and tender. Please show us that you are behind us.