ROBINSON: The right-wing bully machine

Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson

WASHINGTON -- Not all overheated political rhetoric is alike. Delusional right-wing crazy talk -- the kind of ranting we've heard recently from washed-up rock star Ted Nugent and tea party-backed Rep. Allen West -- is a special kind of poison that cannot be safely ignored.

Let me be clear: I'm saying that the extreme language we hear from the far right is qualitatively different from the extreme language we hear from the far left -- and far more damaging to the ties that bind us as a nation. Tut-tutting that both sides should tone it down is meaningless. For all intents and purposes, one side is the problem.

Believe me, I would prefer not to dignify the ravings of Nugent or West by commenting on them. Nugent seems to be motivated by paranoia; West, perhaps by cynical calculation. It would be satisfying to withhold the attention they seek, but this is not an option. The only effective way to deal with bullies is to confront them.

Nugent, who delivered his foaming-at-the-mouth peroration at a National Rifle Association convention, earned a visit from the Secret Service with his promise that "if Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year."

That might or might not constitute an actual threat to the president of the United States. More chilling, to me, was the way his audience of gun enthusiasts applauded in agreement as Nugent compared the Obama administration to a bunch of "coyotes in your living room" who deserve to be shot. Nugent ended by exhorting his listeners: "We are Braveheart. We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. Am I -- any questions?"

No, I think he made himself quite clear.

Violent metaphors aside, the nub of Nugent's argument -- and I use the word advisedly -- was this: "If you can't go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil, America-hating administration, I don't even know what you're made of."

Vile? Evil? America-hating? Nugent doesn't just characterize those with different political views as misguided or wrong. He seeks to paint them as alien and anti-American -- as enemies of this nation, rather than as citizens with whom he disagrees. In a subsequent interview, Nugent called Nancy Pelosi a "sub-human scoundrel" and referred to liberals as cockroaches to "stomp" in November.

This is what distinguishes the flame-throwers of the far right from those of the far left. Nugent and his ilk seek to deny their political opponents the very right to believe in a different philosophy. Agree with me, he says, or be stomped.

It would be one thing if this sort of vicious intolerance came only from aging rockers whose brains may have been scrambled by all those high-decibel performances. But it comes, too, from an elected member of the House of Representatives.

At a town hall meeting last week in Palm City, Fla., West was asked how many Marxists there are in Congress. He replied, "I believe there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party who are members of the Communist Party."

That is, of course, a bald-faced lie. There are no communists in Congress. What makes the lie even worse is West's subsequent declaration that he stands by his words because he was referring to the 80-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, which West considers a branch of the Comintern.

"There is a very thin line between communism, progressivism, Marxism, socialism," West claimed this week. "It's about nationalizing production. It's about creating and expanding the welfare state. It's about this idea of social and economic justice. You hear that being played out now with fairness, fair share, economic equality."

West can't really believe this nonsense. What he's trying to do is delegitimize the entire stream of progressive thought that has run wide and deep through American history since the nation's founding. Disagree with his views, West insists, and you're not just a political opponent, you're a godless Marxist.

There is no symmetry here. The far left may hurl insults at the right, but doesn't scream "fascism" whenever a Republican proposes privatizing Medicare.

So this is what I want to know: Mitt Romney, do you agree with your prominent endorser, Ted Nugent, that the Obama administration is evil and hates America? House Speaker John Boehner, do you agree with your star freshman West that "78 to 81" of your colleagues are card-carrying communists?

Speak up, gentlemen, I didn't hear you.

Eugene Robinson is an associate editor and columnist for The Washington Post. Email him at eugenerobinson@washpost.com. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/eugenerobinson.


BufordGuy 3 years, 5 months ago

I can answer those last two questions. YES.


rco1847 3 years, 5 months ago

When I returned from Vietnam I sub-conscously avoided having a gun. I had my reasons and I kept them to myself. As a kid I was a hunter and a marksman. Now, I again carry a gun because I fear the other people who also carry guns. Not the robber or the crook, but the gun toting radical with an axe to grind and possessed by obsessive hate.


kevin 3 years, 5 months ago

you can't put everyone is this morbid catagory. This is America and you fought for our freedoms and rights. How can you say this now? This is a little appalling coming for a former vet.


NewsReader 3 years, 5 months ago

Robinson works for The Washington Post ~ the US Version of Pravda! He's just another bed-wetting liberal intent on characterizing any conservative viewpoint as wrong as he has so demonstrated throughout his writing career. Nugent is not a threat. You, and others like you, simply don't like what the man had to say. I could care less what he had to say in as I could care less what President Obama had to say. If you want to talk about delusional crazy talk, you better take a good hard look at your own party Robinson. How's that glass house your living in holding up?


kevin 3 years, 5 months ago

I always use this section of the Thurs paper for my dog's use. It is the only time I never read this section. Why? because of the radical stupid comments from a Mr. Robinson. Once I see his picture, I throw the section under the table for my dogs to use. Never read it. I praise the GDP for free speech. I wish they printed more letters from the public. I also have the right to use the Thurs paper for my dog.


jack 3 years, 5 months ago

" I'm saying that the extreme language we hear from the far right is qualitatively different from the extreme language we hear from the far left -- and far more damaging to the ties that bind us as a nation."

But I won't show any comparisons in my article as that would completely destroy the validity of my statement.


kevin 3 years, 5 months ago

I agree with you 100%. Both side have a right to make fools of themselves. However, I'd vote for a 3-legged dog before voting for a Democrat, especially a Liberal Socialist. I can tell you, if I ever thought there would be a very middle ground Democrat running that I liked, I may consider voting for him/her. However, what this country has now, I don't even want to use the words "my president."


notblind 3 years, 5 months ago

He accuses West of "...perhaps cynical calculation..."

What a laugh !!! Every time Obama opens his mouth a "cynical calculation" is on it's way.


gwinnettisgreat1 3 years, 5 months ago

So what about the black panther party threatening white people at the polls? You are worried about the evil right wingers saying things into a microphone but the people on the left, the black panthers, since we are talking about extremes, they threaten to beat people up at polling places and that's not scary?

No. Yet again, skin color is a factor to Mr. Robinson and he has to defend his brotha from anotha motha in the White House. After all Jesse Jackson told him so.


FordGalaxy 3 years, 5 months ago

"Tut-tutting that both sides should tone it down is meaningless. For all intents and purposes, one side is the problem."

Right, because only conservatives use violent rhetoric. The left called for civility in political discourse, then talked about brining a gun to a knife fight. Keith Ellison retweeted a tweet calling Mitt Romney a heartless D-bag, although he tried to distance himself from it later on. Our own President told a group of Hispanic voters that they needed to punish their enemies and reward their friends. But yeah, it's only conservatives to blame. Only one side is the problem.


teelee 3 years, 5 months ago

People are sick of Obama and his disastrous failed policies. November can't get here quick enough for me! He has manged to pit this country against each other, black against white, rich against poor, women against men. I have not seen this kind of division since the late 1960's. We need a president that doesn't rely on the blame game or civil warfare to win re election. Obama can't run on his failed record that is for sure. Who can say they are better off now than they were under the 8 years of George Bush. High fuel prices are choking off our economy. Our manned space program is gone, our nukes have been drastically pledged away and Obama is cutting backroom deals with the Russian president on eliminating part of our missile defenses. We are definitely not safer as we watch North Korea and India launching their missiles while Iran gets closer to having their own bomb. Obama's ridiculous dream of a nuclear free world will happen after we have a full blown nuclear exchange and we are all gone. I am surprised that Obama being the champion of fair that he is, has not decided to give each country in the world one of our nuclear bombs so that everything will be fair and equal. In his Liberal Socialist mind no country should be stronger than any another.


Sthrnldy 3 years, 5 months ago

Let me be clear: I'm saying that the extreme language we hear from the far right is qualitatively different from the extreme language we hear from the far left -- and far more damaging to the ties that bind us as a nation.

Bless his brainwashed liberal heart. Robinson is a hypocrit and a left wing supremacist. Hysterical rantings from someone who gets paid to be a bully!


FordGalaxy 3 years, 5 months ago

Sthrnldy - In my experience, liberal pundits have a glaring double standard that anything a conservative says is far worse than anything a liberal says. Take the recent Rush Limbaugh comments about Sandra Fluke for example. I don't agree with what Limbaugh said, but he was lambasted for it and people are still organizing protests to have him removed from radio. Bill Maher, on the other hand, said far worse things about Sarah Palin (far worse in the context of language used), and he's given a pass because he's a comedian and a liberal.


kevin 3 years, 5 months ago

we live in a time in which the U.S. has a president, not mine, that has been the best at dividing this nation in every respect: class,race, you name it. Liberal Socialist love the strategy known as "divide and conquer." Can't everyone see this writing on the wall? You all have had 3 yrs of it. Haven't you also noticed Obama's words? Always I, me, and let me be clear. Clear must be the only word he can say with more than 4 letters.

He tears into Rommey for growing up with a "silver spoon." Doesn't anyone ask or wonder how Obama grew up? Never had a single job or money and went to Harvard Law school. Took up chair space for 4 yrs and then they gave him a diploma for what? Taking up space? Folks, the Communists are teaching all over this nation's high-priced colleges and no one can see this. Obama was and still is nothing but a "puppet" for the Left Wing's agenda. Wake up.


JV 3 years, 5 months ago

The hypocrisy of the left has no shame or bounds.

“Why couldn’t, uh, why couldn’t have Rush Limbaugh croaked from it instead of Heath Ledger?” — Bill Maher

“It’s good Michelle Malkin’s in D.C. and I’m in New York. I’d spit on her if I saw her.” — Geraldo Rivera

“If I got Condi Rice a** on camera, I would put my Mars Air Jordans so far up her butt that the Mayo Clinic would have to remove them.” — Spike Lee

“Real freedom will come when U.S. soldiers in Iraq turn their guns on their superiors.” — John Daly

"I believe in ecoterrorism." -- James Cameron

"You guys see Live and Let Die, the great Bond film with Yaphet Kotto as the bad guy, Mr. Big? In the end they jam a big CO2 pellet in his face and he blew up. I have to tell you, Rush Limbaugh is looking more and more like Mr. Big, and at some point somebody’s going to jam a CO2 pellet into his head and he’s going to explode like a giant blimp. That day may come. Not yet. But we’ll be there to watch. I think he’s Mr. Big, I think Yaphet Kotto. Are you watching, Rush?" -- Chris Matthews

"What would you do, sir, if terrorists were killing 45,000 people every year in this country? Well, the current health care system, the insurance companies, and those who support them are doing just that....Because they die individually of disease and not disaster, [radio host] Neal Boortz and those who ape him in office and out, approve their deaths, all 45,000 of them — a year — in America. Remind me again, who are the terrorists?" - Keith Olbermann


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