Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On scapegoating and the politics of resentment

From The Christian Science Monitor

"There's a whole category of mass killers who are seeking vengeance against a group of people who they feel are taking away their birthright, their opportunities, and making it difficult to succeed," says Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, author of "Extreme Killing." "They don't see themselves as criminals, but ... as striking a measure of justice, winning one for the little guy. This case may show that [Jim Adkisson] perceived that society has been bending backward to favor disenfranchised groups so they're trying to get some justice for their own victimization."

Police say Mr. Adkisson, an unemployed mechanical engineer, left a note listing his own inability to find a job as one reasons for his attack. He also railed against the Unitarian Universalist denomination as being "liberal," including the church's advocacy for gay rights. The FBI is investigating the shooting as a hate crime.

"This is not just violence in a vacuum," says Brian Levin, professor of criminal justice and director of the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. "When they perceive themselves to have played by the rules, they will lash out indiscriminately not just at innocent people, but innocent people who symbolize what they believe has done them wrong."
And from a post I wrote about propaganda in relation to the estate tax

Our tax system has been rigged to flow wealth upwards to the richest 1 percent of the country like Niagra Falls in reverse, yet the middle class, feeling the squeeze of an increased tax burden, votes to restore a system of wealth transferance that harkens back to feudal aristocracy. I expect that in the future anthropologists are going to look back on this "Death tax" craze like we look back on witchcraft crazes. Funny thing is those served as a means of redirecting people's attention away from the source of their troubles, too. In the words of anthropologist Marvin Harris:

The principal result of the witch-hunt system was that the poor came to believe that they were being victimized by witches and devils instead of princes and popes. Did your, roof leak, your cow abort, your oats wither, your wine go sour, your head ache, your baby die? It was the work of the witches. Preoccupied with the fantastic activities of these demons, the distraught, alienated, pauperized masses blamed the rampant Devil instead of the corrupt clergy and the rapacious nobility.
The conservative movement's Devil is the "tax and spend" Liberal. The Limbaugh's Youth I was talking to calls them Socialists. Saint O'Reilly, savior of Christmas, prefers S-P.

And unless the Democrats stand up and start developing a narrative explaining what's happening to the country, we're going to have economic mad Hatters like Grover Norquist telling the public that the principle behind the estate tax is the same one that was behind the Holocaust.

And as things get tougher for the average American, with the Democrats having failed to explain to them what's happening, they're already going to know which witches to burn.
I listened to Sean Hannity's radio program today for approximately two minutes and was informed by Hannity - whose book Let Freedom Ring was found in Adkisson's home - that:

1) Liberals are to blame for high gas prices.

2)Obama's tax policy will trigger another Great Depression.


Sheldon said...

You might be interested in this from Alternet.

C2H50H said...

I'd like to humbly point out that individual gun possession, which the conservatives on the SCOTUS recently discovered to be a right, is useless in the face of modern government or corporate oppression and victimization, but it can enable some warped individual seeking vengeance against liberals and gays.

I'm not quite cynical or paranoid enough to imagine a deliberate strategy on the part of the ruling class to provide a distraction. I'm merely pointing out a fact.