Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On Collective Guilt

Josh Gerstein and Adam Serwer engage with an issue that I wrote about in the immediate aftermath of the Arizona shooting, that is the conservative double-standard when it comes to collective guilt and the ability of violent rhetoric to drive "crazy" individuals to action. Here's Serwer,

It's a clever quip, but when you think about how casually conservative political leaders hold Muslims collectively responsible for terrorist attacks -- the entire concept behind Peter King's Muslim HUAC hearings -- it's genuinely disconcerting. Acts of "monstrous criminality" are individual only when the individual doesn't fit the profile of particular political bogeymen. It's not just Muslims; if the shooting in Arizona had been perpetrated by an undocumented Latino immigrant we'd be having a very different conversation right now.

This is the point I tried to make ad-nasuem in various online and real-life discussions. If what had happened in Arizona was perpetrated by an Iranian citizen or a Muslim acting in the name of Al-Qaeda conservatives would have no qualms holding Ahmadenijad or Bin Laden responsible. Serwer is right to add the Latino connection as well, Republicans in Arizona have shown no hesitation to assign collective guilt to that community. The piousness and outrage of Palin, Beck et al is just so transparently hypocritical it's almost shocking. Almost.

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