Words Have Meaning


“Words have meaning,” as any Dittohead can tell you, is Rush Limbaugh’s favorite rejoinder to the political Left. Ironic, isn’t it that so many of his fellow travelers on the Anarchist Highway have suddenly become deconstructionalists, insisting that words are only words, so fraught with nuance and ambiguity they are ultimately devoid of inherent meaning? The Right wing has attempted, since shortly after the tragic murder of six people and the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, to claim that their use of revolutionary rhetoric and calls for a “Second Amendment remedy” if they fail at the ballot box, are just metaphors, misunderstood and twisted by their enemies into a call for people to actually take up arms against the United States of America.

When Sarah Palin puts Democratically held congressional seats on a map with crosshairs over them, when Glenn Beck warns that “there will be rivers of blood” if America loses conservative values, when conservative bloggers called for vandalism against Democratic officials offices during the (first) debate over health care reform, or when Rep. Michelle Bachmann tells her constituents she wants them “armed and dangerous” we are expected to accept that they are just words, devoid of meaning, just rhetoric, just the sort of ordinary political debate that happens in a free Republic.

If those same calls were issued by a radical Muslim imam, they would be held up as incitement to terrorism. And when some deranged Muslim hears those calls and blows somebody up, the Right says that’s what happens when people repeatedly call for a war–somebody eventually answers the Bugle Song. But it’s a false equivalence, says the Anarchistic Right, to equate their calls for “extremism in the defense of liberty” with calls to armed jihad against America.

The Left is not entirely without guilt in this issue, but there has been nothing on the Left to compare with the daily onslaught, on talk radio and cable “news” programs for violence against the political enemies of the Right. In fact, Rep. Gifford’s Tea Party-backed opponent in the last election held a campaign event advertised with the supposedly metaphoric tagline: “Get on Target For Victory in November. Help Remove Gabrielle for office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.” According to the deconstructionist Right, it was all in good fun, just a harmless fundraiser. Kelly can’t be blamed if some nutbag thought he meant to actually shoot her.

While we don’t know what was in the head of Gifford’s would-be assassin, and it appears that he was a mentally unstable young man rather than a cold-blooded political murderer, it is impossible to believe that his actions were not influenced, at least in part, by the divisive and hateful speech coming from the Right.

It is past time for the rhetoric of hate, violence and insurrection to end. This country can not long endure the reproaches of pseudo-patriots stirring up irrational fears. The media empires that are making billions in profits from selling soft-core revolution need to be held accountable.

Because, no matter what the post-Gifford Right-wing now says, words mean things. Dittos, Rush.

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