Violence Begets Violence. It Could be a Deadly Cycle

An AP  report today reminds me of Martin Luther King’s admonition that “hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness.”

Here’s an excerpt from the news story:

TUCSON, Ariz. – In an unexpected twist to the Arizona shootings, a man wounded in the attack was arrested and taken for a psychiatric exam after an outburst at a town hall meeting, during which he took a picture of a tea party leader and yelled “you’re dead,” authorities say.

James Eric Fuller, 63, objected to something Trent Humphries said during the forum taped for a special edition of ABC’s “This Week” with Christiane Amanpour, Pima County sheriff’s spokesman Jason Ogan said. Fuller was in the front row and apparently became upset when Humphries suggested that any conversations about gun control should be delayed until all the dead were buried, KGUN-TV in Tucson reported.

Fuller was arrested on misdemeanor disorderly conduct and threat charges, Ogan said. While Fuller was being escorted out, deputies decided he needed a mental health evaluation and he was taken to a hospital, where he remained Saturday evening.

The hospital will determine when he will be released, Ogan said.

I’ve been wondering how long it would take for “the other side” to start shooting back. “Liberals” can shoot, too. They also have the right to “bear arms” – and use them. I am sure you will find them at gun ranges and in hunting parties. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some liberals hunt moose – just like Sarah Palin. My brother, Bill, who is definitely a “liberal,” got his marksman badge in the army. I consider myself a “lib4ral,” and while I am not very good with a pistol, I’m quite handy with a rifle or shotgun.

And I certainly would not hesitate to start shooting if anyone attacked my homestead.

Surprise! Liberals have emotions, though we try to use our intellect to temper them.

In a well-reasoned rebuttal (read it here) of the nonsensical notion that right-wing rhetoric had nothing to do with the Tucson shootings, Professor Lawrence Davidson of West Chester University in Pennsylvania, points out:

Anyone with average intelligence can recognize this to be so, given the pre-existing combustible environment created by the near criminal speech of people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.

But Davidson adds:

The situation would never have gotten to its present explosive level without the complementary behavior of … the country’s center/liberal establishment, including the Democratic Party leadership, all of whom have failed to treat the right-wing threat seriously. It does not matter if members of this group simply misjudged the situation, or if they had the mistaken notion that to confront it would only make things worse. In either case, they were wrong. Whether we consider Al Gore’s response to the stolen presidential election of 2000 or Barack Obama’s consistent refusal to prosecute the criminal acts of the Bush-era extremists, these center/liberal leaders have behaved irresponsibly in the face of a growing and recognizably dangerous situation. They do the country no favor by confronting a violent right with passivity or sorrowful words.

That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to say in my blogs. But with his superior scholarship, Davidson does it more convincingly.

He compares the current situation to the period preceding the War of Secession (or War Between the States, if you happen to be a Southerner). And he quotes Abraham Lincoln:

“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”

Davidson writes:

Making reference to continuing “slavery agitation” he  (Lincoln) went on, “In my opinion it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached and passed.” And then he told his audience (1,000 members of the original Republican Party) that, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

The United States is, once more, increasingly a house divided. It is not divided by “slavery agitation” though some of the issues have their roots in that era. It is divided over fundamental differences in the meaning of the nation’s Constitution and the very nature of government. These differences bring with them feelings that are just as emotional and inherently divisive as was slavery.

Could we really be on the bring of another civil war? No, that’s far too preposterous to contemplate. Or is it?

Davidson concludes that:

Passivity and accommodation will not make right-wing violence go away. Those who incite this violence, as well as those who act it out, have to be confronted in an aggressive yet principled fashion.

Failing that, I fear they will eventually be confronted by a far more aggressive – and decidedly unprincipled – uprising of people who have been pushed too far and just won’t take it any longer.