Friday, April 01, 2011

It's war

"Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."
                                                                                                     Col. John Parker   
                                                                                                     Lexington Green
                                                                                                     April 19, 1775

In case you haven't noticed, the Right has declared war on the rest of us.

Last week, an assistant district attorney in Indiana had to resign after it came out that he had sent emails to Gov. Scott Walker (R.WI) suggesting that an agent provocateur be employed to carry out a mock attack on the governor as a means of discrediting union supporters.  He was the second prosecutor from the Hoosier State to be forced out over the tumult in Wisconsin; earlier, another assistant district attorney resigned after we learned that he had suggested that the protesters in Madison be met with "live ammunition."

These images of violence are not isolated.  Remember Sharron ("Obtuse") Angle suggesting "Second Amendment remedies" during last year's campaign?  

Half-serious (?) suggestions for violence are a small and--so far--minor part of the assault on those who do not share the agenda of the hard Right and their allies (implausibly, the banks, Wall Street, most large corporations).  There is, as you have heard at great length, the attack on labor rights being waged in such at first blush unlikely venues as Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio.  The war on labor and working people is not an isolated phenomenon.

There is a bill in the US House that would make it impossible for unions to win representation elections; the White House has threatened a veto, a very unusual move for this administration.  

While Tea Party extremists in Congress say they will accept nothing less than a $61 billion slash at the parts of the budget that aid those who cannot help themselves, investments for the future and other worthwhile objects, Democrats are touting a "breakthrough" to avoid a government shutdown that will involve a whack of $30 billion.  

The best description of the effect of Rebuplican extremism that I have seen came from, of all people, the food writer Mark Bittman.  In an op-ed piece in The Times, Bittman notes that "The budget proposes cuts in the WIC program (which supports women, infants and children), in international food and health aid (18 million people would be immediately cut off from a much-needed food stream, and 4 million would lose access to malaria medicine) and in programs that aid farmers in underdeveloped countries. Food stamps are also being attacked, in the twisted 'Welfare Reform 2011' bill."  He goes on to state the simple truth:
These supposedly deficit-reducing cuts — they’d barely make a dent — will quite literally cause more people to starve to death, go to bed hungry or live more miserably than are doing so now. 
That is what we have come to.

The Right's war is total.  It ranges from sanctifying the rights of wealth to destroying women's privacy in the quest to outlaw abortion.  While we may chortle over the silliness of Newt Gingrich's contortions over Libya, they are symptoms of the single-minded aim of those on the Right not simply to overawe and defeat their opponents in elections, but to crush them.  When Scott Walker and his cronies--allegedly heirs of the law-and-order Rebuplicans of the 1960's and 1970's--threaten to ignore a court order holding up their cherished union-busting law, they make it clear that the ends are all, and that means have become meaningless.

Yes, friends, it's war.

What will we do now?  Will we continue to be nice guys?  Will we continue to assume that those on the other side of the divide (it's much more than an aisle) are reasonable people?  Or will we remember Col. Parker and tell the Right that if it wants a war, it will have one?

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