On Monday January 17th while millions of Americans were peacefully honoring the life, legacy, and sacrifice of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the bomb squad in Spokane, WA was defusing a pipe bomb that had been left along a parade route by unknown domestic terrorists. A suspicious backpack was spotted on a bench along the designated parade route by city employees approximately one hour before a march in honor of Dr. King was to begin.
It was determined that the backpack contained a remote controlled pipe bomb designed to explode in the direction of the marchers. According to FBI Special Agent Frank Harrill, “It definitely was, by all early analysis, a viable device that was very lethal and had the potential to inflict multiple casualties…Clearly, the timing and placement of a device — secreted in a backpack — with the Martin Luther King parade is not coincidental.”
Earlier this week, a Facebook page created for the King Center in Atlanta was hacked and defaced by vandals. Along with photos of Dr. King the page displayed disturbing racial photos, the “n-word”, and pictures of fried chicken. It is unknown who is behind the vandalism. The Dr. King Holiday related incidents have yet to make national news.
WATCH RACHEL MADDOW’S COVERAGE OF THE SOPHISTICATED BOMB AT MLK PARADE:
In the wake of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, AZ, these most recent events are further evidence of the hatred that hate filled dialogue produces. There is no nexus or direct connection between any of these incidents and the inaccurate, hateful, and inflammatory language that is being accepted as responsible political dialogue. But, can any rational person deny that anti-government and anti-Obama rhetoric is contributing to a dangerous undercurrent in treacherous political waters?
There has been a lot of “hand ringing” and dialogue over the past week about the tenor and tone of the political rhetoric and public discourse. Many in the media have called for both sides (liberal and conservative) to be more civil in their discourse and use less violent imagery. This is a false equivalency.
As George Packer writes in his New Yorker article, “Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side’s activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings.” That rhetoric is not coming from the left.
Also, what is missing from most of the analysis of these events is the subtle and sometimes not so subtle racial context of the dialogue and imagery being used. Any objective study would show that the tone of public discourse became more heated, vitriolic, and violent as Barack Obama ran for president and has increased with his election.
The New Yorker’s July 21, 2008 cover featured a drawing of Barack Obama in a turban giving a machine-gun-bearing Michelle a “fist-bump” while the American flag burned in the grate. These were stereotypes created by their right-wing critics who were playing to the racist fears of many in America. In December 2008 Republican National chair candidate John “Chip” Saltsman distributed a CD to fellow Republican Party officials entitled “We HATE the USA”. One of the songs on the CD is entitled “Barack the Magic Negro”. This song is one of forty-one on the CD; others include Bank of Amigo and The Stay-Spanglish Banner. In February 2009 the New York Post published a cartoon depicting police shooting a chimpanzee with the caption, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”
On Saturday, March 20, 2010 as Rep’s. John Lewis (D-GA) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) were leaving the Cannon office building they encountered members of the Tea Party protesting the health care reform bill. As the protesters exchanged words with the Congressmen, some of the protesters allegedly called them a “ni**er” and spat upon them. Openly gay Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) was called a “fa**ot”.
There has been very little major national news coverage of the hate speech surrounding recent Dr. King holiday related events. According to FBI Special Agent Frank Harrill, “Clearly, the timing and placement of a device — secreted in a backpack — with the Martin Luther King parade is not coincidental.” Dr. King called it, “white backlash” the “surfacing of old prejudices, hostilities and ambivalences that have always been there.” Dr. Ronald Walters called it the “politics of resentment”.
Does someone else have to die; do people have to be shot in order for this hatred to matter? Loughner in Tucson, the bomb in Spokane; connect the dots.