Civics: Legacy Media, the political class and “the narrative”

Brendan O’Neill:

We shouldn’t be surprised. When it comes to political violence, there’s always an extraordinary double standard. So when then Democratic congresswoman Gabby Giffords was targeted in a mass shooting in Tucson in 2011, armies of commentators pinned the blame on Sarah Palin and other right-wingers who engage in heated political rhetoric. Yet when a Bernie Sanders supporter shot up a charity congressional baseball game in Virginia in 2017, hitting the Republican congressman Steve Scalise, among others, there was very little of that kind of commentary. There’s identitarian hypocrisy, too. Acts of mass violence carried out by white, far-right hate-mongers will linger in the media conscience for years. But hateful acts carried out by members of allegedly oppressed minorities – such as the Christmas parade massacre in Waukesha last year or the numerous acts of anti-Semitic and anti-Asian violence carried out by African American men in recent years – are downplayed, and swiftly forgotten. It’s all about the political use of violence. If an act of violence serves the woke elite’s narratives about hierarchies of oppression and the scourge of whiteness and the dangers of right-wing rhetoric, it will be blown up. If it doesn’t, it won’t be. The act itself (and its victims) only matters to the extent that it can be exploited to fortify the moral domination of the new elites.

This is the real reason that the alleged attempted murder of Kavanaugh has ‘dropped off’ the media and political radar – because it isn’t useful. On the contrary, it’s a problematic event given it threatens to complicate the simplistic narratives that underpin elite consensus. It is especially pesky that this incident should have occurred in the run-up to the ‘January 6’ hearings, which have morphed into a fact-lite, highly politicised showtrial of Trumpian rhetoric and how words can allegedly cause violence. So whose words ‘caused’ the alleged act of attempted murder against Kavanaugh? If Trump’s vague statements on 6 January 2021 can be said to have caused a riot, can the Kavanaugh-bashing of the pro-Roe commentariat and of upper-middle-class protesters be seen as the instigator of Roske’s alleged attempted murder? If Trump saying he loves his supportive protesters was the reason the storming of the Capitol took place, was Chuck Schumer’s 2020 comment to Kavanaugh on the issue of abortion – ‘You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price’ – the reason the attempted murder of Kavanaugh happened?

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