January 11, 2011

Toning Down the Rhetoric

However one might characterize the ethos embodied in contemporary American right wing populist rhetoric, "eliminationist," coined by Daniel Goldhagen in his Hitler's Willing Executioners to describe the ideological underpinnings of the popular will to exterminate European Jews, is surely the wrong word. That it tends to appear in the context of calls to "tone down the rhetoric" is rather startling irony. Michael Moynihan has more.

added: and now Sarah Palin sees their "eliminationism" and raises them a "blood libel." Everyone's gone mad.

Posted by Dr. Frank at January 11, 2011 11:22 PM | TrackBack

This is really getting interesting. The Official Press (or MSM is you prefer) is losing its ability to control public opinion a la Walter Lipman. A power it was able to exercise due its official position. We are seeing the spontaneous emergence of what used to be called "yellow journalism". Most people know that yellow journalism started the Spanish American War, but probably fewer know about the role of the press in the Civil War. The New Deal press has been sitting on enough hate to start a dozen Civil Wars. The parallels are starting to worry me. The psychological projection by the left, the religious fervor, the bogeymen of the "slavocracy" or the "corporate elite", and the pure 24 carrot hatred for the entire way of life of a people who can't see "the writing on the wall" of God's progressive plan for bringing about his Kingdom on earth. Rush Limbaugh, you defy God's will or rather Justice! Like I said, this is getting interesting.

Posted by: josh at January 12, 2011 03:25 PM

Incidentally, I'll tone down my rhetoric when they pry it out of my cold dead hands.

Posted by: josh at January 12, 2011 03:26 PM

While I'd prefer if "blood libel" was used only for the recurring false claim that Jews use gentile blood for whatever-they're-being-accused-of-doing-with-it-this-time, it's not like using "blood libel" to refer to any particularly unpleasant and group-based false accusation is new, especially if that accusation really does involve blood (in the sense of culpability for death).

See here for a partial list from left and right going back over a decade.

If Palin has "gone mad" to use the term here, it's presumably only from reading these uses continually for the past decade and more.

(You know, I have ancestors on one side who were doubtless literally-blood-libeled, and others who got murdered by the Nazis and the Bolsheviks simply for their ancestry.

And frankly? This use of "blood libel", along with most of the examples in that link?

Not irksome.

There's "The Blood Libel" (of the Jews) and "a blood libel" by comparison. It's a testament to the power of the label [and disgust with the action it refers to] that creates those uses.

As long as it's restricted to, well, actual libeling, it doesn't feel problematic here.)

Posted by: Sigivald at January 12, 2011 08:09 PM

In my view the madness lies in the fact that both "sides" in this tit-for-tat rhetorical war over incendiary rhetoric choose references drawn from the history of European genocide for their go-to metaphors. Each is jarring, and the juxtaposition even moreso.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at January 12, 2011 08:34 PM

As a monarchist, I honest don't have a dog in this fight, but from what I can tell "blood libel" seems appropriate. The claim seems to be that opposing illegal immigration in particular (the most oft-referenced conservative offense) involves inciting murder. In other words, conservatism is a murderous ideology. Is this different from the claim that the Jewish religion called for the murder of children?

Posted by: josh at January 12, 2011 11:28 PM

Did I get moderated?

Posted by: josh at January 14, 2011 12:51 AM

No, Josh, your comments got accidentally deleted with around 1000 spam comments. Trying to find them to put them back now.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at January 14, 2011 12:53 AM

Found 'em. Keeping up with the spam is exhausting.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at January 14, 2011 01:40 AM

Posterity will thank you!

Posted by: josh at January 14, 2011 02:33 AM
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