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Dingell Cites Examples of Violent Conservative Rhetoric on House Floor

Though he had a somewhat rough re-election campaign last year, John Dingell is not someone who’s going to temper himself for political expediency. So just as President Obama did his job speaking to the nation last night, so did Dingell do his job shaming Republicans with a recitation of their rhetoric last night.

Quoting Sharron Angle: “People are looking towards the second amendment remedies and saying my goodness, what can we do to turn our country around.”

Angle again: “The first thing we need to do is take out blank.” The exact quote: “The first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”

Quoting Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN): “I want people in blank armed and dangerous on this issue [of the energy tax] because we need to fight back.”

Quoting Glenn Beck: “I want to kill blank with a shovel.” The exact quote: “I want to kill Charlie Rangel with a shovel.”

Beck again: “Every night I get down on my knees and pray blank will burst into flames.” The exact quote: “Every night I get down on my knees and pray Dennis Kucinich will burst into flames.”

Quoting Texas GOP candidate Stephen Broden: ”Our nation was founded on violence. I don’t think that we should ever remove anything from the table as it relates to our liberties and our freedoms.’ ‘ The exact quote: ”Our nation was founded on violence. The option is on the table. I don’t think that we should ever remove anything from the table as it relates to our liberties and our freedoms.’ ‘

Quoting Sarah Palin: “Don’t retreat, reload.”

Quoting would-be Alan West chief of staff Joyce Kaufman: “If ballots don’t work, bullets will.”

It’s far too easy to find these quotes and more among the upper echelons of the conservative movement. Do they exist on the left? Sure, here and there. But there’s not really any comparison.

Similarly, all the serious threats placed on lawmakers in the last few days, the ones that led to arrests, have been against Democrats. This time Jim McDermott was threatened. Earlier it was Michael Bennet. And Danny Davis. And Raul Grijalva.

We can use the shooting in Tucson to look forward with an eye toward self-improvement. We can strive for a more honest and civil discourse, and put that plan into action in our own lives. We also have to look at the world as it is. Separate and apart from the motivations of Jared Loughner, we have the issue of violent rhetoric. Studies show that the country has become less violent over time as the rhetoric has increased, owing to other social factors. Still, even this researcher says “The data suggest, then, that if media exposure to violent political rhetoric has an effect, it’s likely to be harmful, but if so the harm may be small.”

I think acknowledging that, and acknowledging the need to do better, would be a first step. One we’re not likely to see.

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David Dayen

David Dayen