One of the saddest things about the GOP’s decades long embrace of the politics of hate is the affect it has on the more addled members of the party’s rank and file. For the likes of Bush, Cheney and the rest, challenging the patriotism of those who oppose them is just good — if despicable — politics. They’re sort of like the gangsters in the Godfather movies who, before killing people, sometimes take the time to assure them that it’s just business, not personal — as though that somehow makes it alright.
But, of course, in the case of Bush & Co. many of the rank and file Republicans who hear their words take from them only the hate itself, not the wink that goes with it.
And given this, is it really surprising that Bush & Co.’s calculated use of the politics of hate so often turns into the real thing among their increasingly desperate minions?
A sad case in point:
Parents who lose children, whether through accident or illness, inevitably wonder what they could have done to prevent their loss. When my son was killed in Iraq earlier this month at age 27, I found myself pondering my responsibility for his death.
Among the hundreds of messages that my wife and I have received, two bore directly on this question. Both held me personally culpable, insisting that my public opposition to the war had provided aid and comfort to the enemy. Each said that my son’s death came as a direct result of my antiwar writings.
This may seem a vile accusation to lay against a grieving father. But in fact, it has become a staple of American political discourse, repeated endlessly by those keen to allow President Bush a free hand in waging his war. By encouraging “the terrorists,” opponents of the Iraq conflict increase the risk to U.S. troops. Although the First Amendment protects antiwar critics from being tried for treason, it provides no protection for the hardly less serious charge of failing to support the troops — today’s civic equivalent of dereliction of duty.
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