About an hour's drive from where I live, a miserable 60-year old man by the name of Donnie Baker murdered two Chilean college students and wounded five others. Baker has one of those simpleton minds that is easily influenced by media fear mongers. He murdered those kids because he visualized himself as a hero protecting America from the evil immigrant hordes crossing our border. Those are the same evil hordes vilified every day by right wing "conservative" media.
Baker's story was similar to Joshua Cartwright's who murdered two sheriff's deputies because, according to his wife, Cartwright was distraught that Barack Obama had been elected president. Cartwright lived in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, down the highway from Mr. Baker.
It's a place where right wing media flourishes.
These days, hate crime stories are so similar and so many in number that we begin to tune them out the same way we might tune out the car sales commercials that scream over our radio and TV airways everyday. But the Donnie Bakers and Joshua Cartwrights of the world are intently listening to the screaming airways. Not the screaming that sells automobiles, but the screaming that encourages dull-witted, troubled personalities to commit murder.
There is a new book on the market titled, The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right. It is a book that helps us understand the connections between conservative media messaging and hate crime. Xenophobe, homophobe, demophobe, Obama-phobe, tax-phobe, choice-phobe; Name the fear and you can match it to some right wing TV or radio "talent" pandering to the most terrified, simpleton and impressionable minds in his audience. The author of The Eliminationists, David Neiwert, says that there is a formula that promotes the terminally unsophisticated and disturbed parts of America's right wing talk audience to do more than just listen to hate messaging. The basic principle behind the formula is to appeal to the most fearful and intellectually challenged portions of a listening audience. Once you get that crowd's attention, the next step is to demonize, dehumanize, and in a sense objectify the hate talker targets. That then allows the hate talker to more easily characterize the Latino, the liberal, the Muslim, the abortion doctor, and even the president of the United States as a traitor, a criminal and an opponent to everything that is righteous and decent. The process is called eliminationism. It is a process that encourages the contempt talkers audience to ridicule, suppress, and ignore opinions that are different from those of the audience. I interviewed Neiwert last week. He had an interesting way of describing eliminationism. He told me that it is the equivalent of allowing a village lunatic to wander through the town square poking everyone he dislikes in the eye with a sharp stick. His book points out that some villagers have enough courage and intellect to stop the lunatic, but others don't have sense enough to realize that the lunatic has recruited them and has actually handed them their own sharp stick.
So, in the end, a pathetic, impressionable right wing media convert murders an abortion doctor, and we see that the process of eliminationism was successful once again.
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