2015

9 December 2015: Loose rhetoric can lead to violence

Loose rhetoric can encourage violence

The goal of terrorists is to strike fear not only into those they are immediately targeting but also into a group of people, population or nation to make them cow in fear so to get them to cease a practice the terrorists find objectionable.

Terrorists strike with impunity, often not concerned with their own survival. Some act because they believe so much in the cause they are willing to become martyrs for it. Delusional ones believe they are arms of God/Allah and are carrying out his will, as if God/Allah is insufficiently powerful to surgically remove the offending persons or groups he wants destroyed.

Terrorists see everything in black-and-white terms. Grays, subtleties, and nuances are unfathomable and beyond their mental capacities. In short, terrorists are simple-minded.

Terrorists are not born as such. Young males and the weak of mind are most pliable to become radicalized. That happens through indoctrination that incorporates inflammatory rhetoric that dehumanizes others by playing to emotions rather than reason. Accordingly, terrorists are not thoughtful, deliberating people with consciences that can help them resolve inner hostilities. Terrorists, instead, act upon their anger by striking out.

Terrorists always have gurus, preachers, and orators, masters of language who know and use the right words, tones, and timing to fire up their disciples. It is under their spell terrorists find their calling.

While those masters of oratory do not always wish for their disciples to behave in violent manners, sometimes they do. That has happened with Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and other incendiary speakers who toss around the graphic phrase “baby body parts.”

“Rest assured,” Fiorina intoned at a nationally televised debate assuring us of her veracity that she saw a video of a writhing infant about to be dismembered in order to salvage its body parts. The problem is that video does not exist. Never has, except in Fiorina’s delusional mind and in the minds of the weak.

Critical thinkers are capable of discerning that Fiorina lied. They reasonably question her capacity for truth telling. But those devoid of such skill are likely to accept Fiorina’s statement prima facie, as fact.

Most of them would likely do nothing more than embarrass themselves by repeating it as gospel. But others such as Robert Dear, the alleged gunman of the Planned Parenthood massacre that took three lives including a law enforcement officer and an Iraq war veteran, feel compelled to act forcefully, even violently. The purpose of the PP shootings had one purpose only: to strike fear into the hearts of every person who might be willing to exercise his/her constitutional right by taking advantages of PP services.

As Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcos writes, “Inflammatory rhetoric inflames. Words—extreme language and overheated representations—have consequences.” Words, phrases, and statements loaded with explicit visual imagery especially incite.

In the CNN Republican debate in September, Fiorina said, “I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

As I note above, for Obama and Clinton to watch such a film it would first have to be created.

Orators like Fiorina who fire up the assassins themselves are often cowards. First, they keep themselves safe from harm and then after the carnage they deny culpability.

“This is so typical of the left to immediately begin demonizing the messenger,” she wailed.

Her fellow presidential aspirant Ted Cruz followed suit by trying to redirect the blame from him and his fellow fire-breathers by referring to “vicious rhetoric on the left, blaming those who are pro-life.”

This, though, is about not blaming pro-lifers. It’s about blaming those who when tossing around such provocative rhetoric do not appreciate their statements are virtual matches on the emotional gasoline of losers and dim-witted listeners.

When she says “demonizing the messenger,” Fiorina is referring to those like her calling attention to Planned Parenthood. But the message received by some is not about the ethics of what happens at PP clinics, but rather that it is okay and even necessary to put such clinics and people out of business one way or another. Congressional Republicans want to do it legislatively. Others though prefer taking the matter into their own hands, hands with guns in them. And therein lies the problem.

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