Tuesday, January 11, 2011

William Rivers Pitt: "The Wrath of Fools"

Will Pitt is one of my favorite essayists; his writing appears on Truthout.org and his essays are often re-posted elsewhere.  His essay for Jan 10, 2011, titled The Wrath of Fools: An Open Letter to the Far Right, is particularly satisfying to me, as a linguist.  Pitt insists that we avoid the temptation to attribute the hideous shootings at the Safeway in Tucson on Friday to a lone, deranged person operating in a vacuum:
"Mainstream" news personalities like David Gergen and John King bent over backwards warning people not to blame Sarah Palin and her ilk for this calamity.  It was a sick man who did this, they said. Bollocks to that.  I hate to break this to the "mainstream" media know-betters, but words matter.  When people like Palin spray the airwaves with calls to violence and incantations of imminent doom, people like Loughner are listening, and prepared to act. The "mainstream" media lets it fly without any questions or rebuttal, because it's good for ratings, and here we are. Words matter. Play Russian Roulette long enough, and someone inevitably winds up dead.
And let's be clear: there is no moral equivalency between "right" and "left" here. There are no "liberals" calling for "Second Amendment remedies";  there are no "liberals" putting up maps with rifle cross-hairs marking key conservatives for elimination.  This is a Right Thing.  It's also a Race Thing, as Pitt points out:
I'm talking to you, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly, and Michael Savage, and Ann Coulter, and Laura Ingraham, and to every other right-wing tripe-spewing blowhard blogger and Fox News broadcaster. I hope you are proud of yourselves, because this is the day you get to reap what you have been relentlessly sowing since you were forced to encompass the unmitigated outrage of a Black man winning the office of President of the United States.
That's right, I said it. Anyone who thinks good old-fashioned American bigotry and racism are not the core motivation for a vast majority of these so-called "revolutionaries" should get their heads examined. You've heard of the "elephant in the middle of the room?" Well, this is the burning cross in the middle of the room, and no amount of spin will douse those flames.

The idea that this crime, and others like it, are the products of lone, deranged individuals, with little or no influence from the social and cultural context that they live in, is promoted by our culture's values of independence training and individualism.  Everything is done by, and to, individuals; society does not exist.  Remember the derision that followed Hillary Clinton's book It Takes a Village to Raise a Child?

We are doomed, unless we can change our culture.  If we can't change it, our culture will destroy us.

Amendment:  Perhaps I should end with "we are doomed, unless we can find our village."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments and feedback are welcome, as long as they conform to normal standards of civility and decency. I will delete comments that do not meet these standards.