Our Loonies Versus Their Loonies

John Aravosis contends that liberals are much less angry and nasty than their conservative counterparts.

They have terrorists – pro-lifer murderers. Who do we have on the liberal side who outright murders their political opponents?

Well, there are various ecoterrorist groups like the Animal Liberation Front, the Animal Rights Militia, Greenpeace, and others. The various groups that spike trees to injure loggers. Those who set fire to SUV dealerships. Unabomber Ted Kaczinski. Going back a little further, we had the Weather Underground, Students for a Democratic Society, the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and others.

Ann Coulter and Pat Robertson have called for the assassination of their political opponents. Jerry Falwell and the religious right groups are bigots who are still embraced by the Republican party. Who do we have on the religious left who even holds a candle to these hatemongers?

Is there a “religious left” nowadays? Al Sharpton?

Then there’s the angry factor: Ken Mehlman, O’Reilly, Hannity, Scarborough, Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, Newt, Frist, Santorum, Delay, George Will, Krauthammer, most of the top Republican bloggers, Bob Dole, Cheney, and more. The Republicans are an angry party, most of their leadership on TV, the radio and in politics is simply motivated by, and exudes, an unhealthy anger.

But who on the left exudes the same? Michael Moore? Hardly, the man is usually smiling and laughing in his appearances. Compare him to Sean Hannity. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary or Bill? None of them are angry or nasty. Nor are our TV personalities angry: Keith Olbermann and Jon Stewart get their points across with humor and facts, but not the obvious seething hate you see from a Hannity.

Howard Dean, Al Gore, Teresa Heinz Kerry, Cynthia McKinney, Sheila Jackson Lee, Bobby Rush, Maxine Waters, most of the top Democratic bloggers, Molly Ivins, Ted Rall, Chris Matthews, Al Franken, Janeane Garafolo, Randi Rhodes, MoveOn.org, etc. I always liked Harry Reid but think he’s been pretty angry since assuming the Minority Leader mantle.

I don’t watch enough talking head TV anymore to be able to do much comparison. Hannity is annoying, to be sure, but surely no more angry than a Bob Beckel, Paul Begala or James Carville. Let alone Chris Matthews (“Hardball” incarnation, not the Sunday show guy). Indeed, when one includes the generally professorial George Will in a list of the other side’s crazies, it’s a pretty good sign that the list is thin. And Steny Hoyer? That’s reaching pretty far down the fame threshhold to come up with a pleasant personality.

Think about the conservatives most hated by the left. They’re all angry, negative, nasty-hearted mean people. But compare them to those most hated by the right: Hillary, Bill, Moore, Soros, Phil Donohue, Alan Alda, Norman Lear, and a whole host of Hollywood – Barbra Streisand on down. Where do you find the hate and the anger spewing from those people? Sure, the right hates them, but you really can’t point to any of these people who are as filled with hatred and anger as anyone on the right. In fact, the quality most often shared by those hated by the right: intelligence, eloquence, and a message.

Who’s been hating on Donohue, Alda, or Lear in the last twenty years or so? People on the right disagreed with Alda and Lear, to be sure, but I don’t recall a lot of venom directed their way; indeed, most of us regularly watched their shows. Donohue, who I actually rather like as a person, was surely at least as angry as Hannity. There’s plenty of anger and hate spewing from Streisand and Moore, although most on the right are just annoyed with the idea of Hollywood celebs being taken seriously when they try to tell us how to lead our lives.

So, in conclusion, their religious folks are angrier and nastier than ours – well, theirs are outright bigots, ours are puppy gods. Their political leaders are angrier and nastier, whereas again, ours are puppy dogs. Their TV and radio personalities, and their other celebrities, all kind of nasty (they get Charleston Heston, enough said, gun man).

Really? Charleton Freakin’ Heston? The man’s a teddy bear. Whatever one thinks of his stands on the issues, he is incredibly classy in his public discourse. His solliloquy on Ice T’s “Cop Killer,” for example, is a classic of calmly shredding the other side without raising one’s voice.

Across the board, conservatives are represented by people who are simply motivated by, and exude, an irrational hatred and anger. Is it any wonder that Republicans are so prone to striking out domestically and internationally at whomever they perceive as today’s enemy?

Yes, Republicans tend to advocate force against foreigners who are trying to kill us. Then again, until very recently, so did Democrats. Even Bill Clinton sent American troops into combat on a dozen or more occasions. And Hillary Clinton strongly championed the Iraq War.

Moreover, this whole argument is silly. Operation Rescue and Timothy McVeigh are about as representative of mainstream Republicans as the Animal Liberation Front and Ted Kaczinski are of mainstream Democrats; which is to say, not at all. There is anger and frustration on both sides, as there are serious cultural divides in the country. But then, with perhaps a handful of brief intermissions during particularly unifying national events, that has always been the case.

Talk radio and blogs have made angry expression more public than it once was, I suppose, but that’s true outside of politics. Most sports talk radio is more vitriolic than Rush Limbaugh. Indeed, most Americans are probably more passionate and agitated about sports than they are about politics.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. ken says:

    Since conservatives are the group that taught Americans how to hate each other, and how effective hate can be politically, it would be fitting if conservatives were on the recieving end of this a bit more.

    But it seems that without the wierdness that makes conservatives conservative, it is difficult for the rest of us to sink among the sewage for long before we fight our way back to clean air. There is something about conservatives that keeps them there.

    Does anyone know what causes this conservative charactor flaw?

  2. Bob says:

    Religious Left = National Council of Churches (NCC), World Council of Churches (WCC), Presbyterian Church (USA), others

  3. McGehee says:

    But it seems that without the wierdness that makes conservatives conservative, it is difficult for the rest of us to sink among the sewage for long before we fight our way back to clean air.

    Ken, you forgot to close the [self-parody] tag at the end of your comment.

  4. ken says:

    Bob, you can add the Catholic Church to your list of churches on the religious left. In fact any true christian organization would be leftist on most issues, the ones that matter, really. The only exception to this is the feel good born agains whose belief is that once thev’e accepted Jesus they are free to sin all they want.

  5. DaveD says:

    Ken, as a “conservative” I admit that I catch myself being unreasonable at times in discussions with my more liberal friends. But hate is never part of it. As an example of my frustration: a recent discussion over the documents suggesting operatives within the Hussein regime had contact with Al-Quaida. Although the final word has not come down on this, my liberal friend is convinced that because Osama bin Laden had not had a direct face-to-face talk with Saddam, this means that there was never any connection. Fine, Saddam the paranoid and intolerant dictator is completely ignorant of his staff (without any fear of retribution) formulating policy without his knowledge. If he believes that, I think it’s stupid but, whatever. However, carrying HIS logic forward, he completely blames Reagan for the Iran-Contra scandal even though he feels Reagan was an idiot who could not understand complex dealings such as this as well as no proof that Reagan ever met directly face-to-face with a Contra leader. The twisted logic confounds me and does cause me to raise my voice. Your superciliousness is kind of a drag too.

  6. cirby says:

    But it seems that without the wierdness that makes conservatives conservative, it is difficult for the rest of us to sink among the sewage for long before we fight our way back to clean air. There is something about conservatives that keeps them there.

    …like the political party that has a former KKK leader as a major party leader? Or the one that was (and still is) allied with such groups as the Socialists and Communists (and you don’t know bile-filled hate until you’ve spent some time around an old American Communist who never saw the revolution come)? Or the lifelong eco-freaks who grind their teeth and spit when they see someone driving an SUV? Or the current flock of left-wingers who hate the current sitting President with a fiery passion, when most of the things they hate him for are figments of some reporter’s imagination?

    Meanwhile, if you want hate, look at the “fellow travelers” of the current American left (start with Hamas and go downhill from there)… not to mention the unspoken anti-Semitism that isn’t that far under the surface of many Democrat policies.

  7. floyd says:

    ken; don’t mistake prolixity for profundity. perhaps the anger stems from the fact that the left works to steal all things earned. so when did the christian church confiscate property or liberty at gun point as the left advocates? as for the “born agains”, it’s the left that demands the embrace of every form of perversion. the left also wants government to do all their dirty work.their minds are always in the sewage but they would never want to get their own hands dirty.

  8. ken says:

    DaveD, you would be frustrated if you tried to use those documents as proof of a sufficient enough relationship between Saddam and Ossama to justify taking the country to war against Iraq.

    Anyone knows that Donald Rumsfield, for example, had a better relationship with Saddam than Ossama bin Laden ever did. Hell it was the conservatives that helped arm Saddam and gave him the power he enjoyed as President of Iraq. Bin Laden, on the other hand, wanted to replace the Iraqis secular government with one based on shirria and his extremist view of Islam. Saddam was his number one enemy. Saddam, not being totally insane, had on interest in finding out more about this threat. This is all well known.

    As long as you approach reality through the handicap of conservative ideology you will continue to be frustrated by the facts.

  9. ken says:

    floyd, go ahead and rant and rave against American progressives all you want.

    But Americans are not dumb. We know that you, for example, if it were not for the liberal infrastructure we have built and nutured along since the founding of our nation, would be not only a gibbering idiot but a much poorer gibbering idiot to boot.

  10. jacob says:

    Why can’t we all get along? Well for starters, it seems to be a republican you need to sign up for the following:

    Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush’s daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a “we can’t find Bin Laden” diversion.

    Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

    The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

    A woman can’t be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

    The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans’ benefits and combat pay.

    If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won’t have sex.

    A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

    Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing
    health care to all Americans is socialism. HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

    Global warming and tobacco’s link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

    A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable
    offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

    Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

    Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you’re a conservative radio host. Then it’s an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

    Supporting “Executive Privilege” for every Republican ever born, who will be born or who might be born( in perpetuity.)

    Support for hunters who shoot their friends and blame them for wearing orange vests similar to those worn by the quail.

    Embedded in all the above is stupidity, arrogance, elitism, disregard for people, cowardice, racism, mendacity….. basically why most progressives I know can’t stay in the same room with most right wingers who begin to share their political and social insights.

  11. just me says:

    That whole piece was largely dishonest, and mostly blind to what is actually on the left. To totally ignore ALF and ELF is to deny reality.

    Also, while we are at it, when was the last abortion clinic bombing exactly? And just how many Christian leaders cheered it?

  12. LBJ says:

    It is an unfortunate that everyone bickers over who made what mess and whether or not one side is more right than the other instead of being able to find a common good and work toward it in the interest of common people. Bickering and the subsequent loss of faith in the system through that bickering leads to disillusionment and the dollar chasing we see in the system now. Not to mention monolithic party lines that disenfranchise voters who’s free will are overturned simply by the lack of choice. It will be a happy day when voters realize a two party system helps no one except those wealthy enough to play the lobby game.

  13. Jim says:

    Ken,

    I have yet to understand the liberal phrase the United States armed Iraq. Did we send some weapons…of course we did since they were at war with Iran, an enemy we thought at the time was worse. However, France sold more weapons to Iraq. Most of the Iraqi armor are from Russia…their plans were a combination of Russian and French aircraft. In other words: although we did have a part in arming Iraq, our contribution was a minor one.

  14. floyd says:

    ken; no rant,no rave, simply supplying you with simple truth.the left built the social infrastucture, the right pays the bill.”progressives” have only coined that term in recent years,a lot of us ex-democrats left the party thirty years ago when it took a hard left,leaving a quivering puddle of “jibbering idiots” in our wake.as for me personally, i have never received anything from government that i haven’t paid dearly for. there is nothing you can do for a dollar that your gov’t can’t do half as well for a thousand. defense being the possible exception[bane to “jibbering” progressives].

  15. floyd says:

    jacob; much of what you say is true,[some exaggerated, some wrong]so it grieves my heart that the democrats hate liberty so bad as to decide every election by offering only worse.it’s been more than forty years since the democrats have done anything for working people in this country. don’t you think it is about time that ordinary people took back the party, now run by pseudointellectual leftist perverts.95 percent of voters walk away from the polls disappointed, regardless of who won. the remaining 5 percent are fools or profiteers.

  16. LJD says:

    Ken is a prime example of the division that has our country paralyzed. While I recognize the sheer stupidity of the far right on several issues, it seems more often than not it is the left that closes down useful dialogue with hysterics and name calling. Although I do not consider myself a staunch Republican, I am deeply offended when I have to continually listen to how evil Bush is, how stupid neocons are, that anybody who supports anything the President does also supports the same ‘stupid’ beliefs. All without a single coherent argument citing specific examples of flawed policy.

    We are going to hell in a handbasket with this system, even though we all know a majority of Americans sit comfortably in the middle. Yet we have candidates push the division, creating greater polarity and voter dissatisfaction. Taking stupid cheap shots at one another in endless rounds of election year sparring. Totally counter productive, an embarrassment on the world stage, and a great disservice to America.

    It seems special interests have ruined our great experiment in democracy. No longer does the sytem provide for all equally, but the one who screams the loudest ‘there oughtta be a law!’. The sense of entitlement is astounding. Amazingly we see strange role reversals. Liberals for ‘rights’ yet against the 2nd Amendment. Conservatives for families, yet supporting damaging drug control laws. We need to drop a good half (or more) of all the stupid laws on the books. ‘Majority rule’ does not override my Constitutional rights to do whatever the hell I want as long as I’m not hurting any one.

    Yet we continue to add dumb legislation, try to tell people how to live their lives, produce polarizing candidates. Most were dissatisfied with the last few elections, yet nothing has been done to prevent a repeat performance in 2008. Anybody who thinks getting Bush out of office will solve all of their problems is seriously disillusioned.

  17. Roger Ridenour says:

    Very good post, Jacob. LJD, congrats on a coherent post. Yes, both sides are angry. But that anger arises as either a natural reaction to evil, or a defensive reaction in support of evil. It behooves all of us to carefully examine why we’re angry.

  18. Roger Ridenour says:

    OK, I guess I should address the incoherent portion of LJD’s post. He states, “I am deeply offended when I have to continually listen to how evil Bush is, how stupid neocons are, . . . . All without a single coherent argument citing specific examples of flawed policy. LJD, please explains what incoherent about the following:

    1) Bush proudly admits he is illegally tapping Americans’ phones in violation of the FISA law. Some of us find this criminal behavior by our president and the hubris informing it disturbing.
    2) America under the neocons, starts wars while not being threatened, runs gulags, and tortures prisoners. Some of us find this version of Amerika disturbing.
    3) It was apparent that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and that a secular ruler like Saddam by definition would be an enemy to a radical Islamic movement like Al-Qaeda. Yet our great leader very quickly pulled the vast bulk of our resources away from the hunt for the terrorists who killed 3,000 of us and took us into a boondoggle in Iraq. Now, after the deaths of 10s of thousands of innocents, Bin Laden is still out there 5 years later. To some us this looks like scary incompetence and indicates these people have not a clue about how to defend this country against another terrorist attack.
    4) Years after 9/11, our great leader has even begun the process of strenghtening the defenses around our our ports, nuclear plants, chemical plants, etc. This is disturbing.
    5) The Bushies have run up a stupendous debt that even our great-grandchildren are unlikely to dig out from under, all the while insisiting on huge taxcuts for their rich buddies. This is disturbing.
    6) While playing the “patriot” card, this group trashes true war heroes whenever said heroes disagree with them (McCain, Kerry, Murtha, etc.) Do we have any reason to believe this group won’t trash any one of our current heroes in Iraq if he/she gets in their way? Oh yeah, and they cut vets’ benefits on top if all. Disturbing.
    And, of course this could go on and on.
    Waht do you find incoherent in the above concerns, LJD?