Friday, January 23, 2015

"Evil" and Demonization Examples: 2011

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2011 "Evil" and Demonization
"So I’m going to propose ways to put America back to work that both parties can agree to, because I still believe both parties can work together to solve our problems. And given the urgency of this moment, given the hardship that many people are facing, folks have got to get together. But we’re not going to wait for them. We’re going to see if we’ve got some straight shooters in Congress. We’re going to see if congressional Republicans will put country before party."
-- President Barack Obama, September 05, 2011.

Comment:  It's one thing to disagree about what policy is best for the country, it's another to accuse someone of not caring about what's best for the country. Obama is is demonizing Republicans, saying that their opposition to his policies means they're not motivated by the best interests of the country.

TEXT: Millions have lost their jobs under President Obama. Long term unemployment is now worse than the Great Depression. June 3, 2011, unemployment hit 9.1%. President Obama called it a bump in the road.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There are always going to be bumps on the road to recovery.
[a line of people, lying down in a road, stand up one by one, holding up signs explaining their unemployment situation and expressing that they stand with GOP presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney]

PEOPLE: I'm an American, not a bump in the road.
TEXT: Believe in America. November 6, 2012.
-- Posted by Romney's campaign on YouTube, June 12, 2011.

Comment: This is a derisive distortion. Obama was not saying that unemployed people were obstacles to the recovery, or dehumanizing them by saying they were somehow mere bumps in a road. He was stating that the recovery wouldn't be quick and easy, that economic suffering would not vanish instantaneously. This distortion serves to make Obama look like he doesn't care about human suffering.

  • This bill is stupid and I know stupid [held by a woman dressed like Sarah Palin]
  • Scott Walker schoolyard bully
  • Unions our my cup of tea
-- Wisconsin protest signs from Reuters video posted February 20, 2011.

Comment: Calling former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) -- and the legislation -- "stupid" is name-calling. Saying Walker is a schoolyard bully is demonizing (akin to calling him a dictator). The last sign is just confusing.

"Never again can it be said that the National Education Association cares about children. Never again can it be said that the Democrat Party cares about the middle class. Never again can it be said the Democrat Party cares about 'the little guy.'"
-- Radio pundit Rush Limbaugh, February 18, 2011, on the Wisconsin demonstrations opposing restrictions on collective bargaining for public unions.

Comment: Limbaugh is demonizing the NEA and the Democrats by saying that they don't care about children, the middle class, or "the little guy". It's typical behavior in politics: "The difference between me and you is that I care about people and morality and you don't."

"In a year when governors across the country are competing to show who's toughest, no matter what the consequences, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin stands out as the first to bring his State Capitol to a halt."
-- The New York Times editorial page, February 17, 2011, regarding the Wisconsin labor dispute.

Comment: This is a distortion, saying that Walker is merely trying to appear tough. And it's demonizing to say Walker doesn't care what the consequences are. Walker and the NYTimes editorial writers clearly have legitimate differences of opinion about how to balance Wisconsin's budget and about what public sector unions should be allowed to do. It's wrong to say that Walker just wants to look tough no matter how much destruction results.

"Some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally seems like more of an assault on unions ... And I think it's very important for us to understand that public employees, they're our neighbors, they're our friends."
-- President Barack Obama, February 16, 2011, commenting on the Wisconsin labor debate.

Comment: "Assault" is an exaggeration, they're not being physically attacked. At best it's an outsized metaphor. And of course we know that public employees are neighbors and friends. Who doesn't realize that? Obama is saying that those who favor restricting collective bargaining for some public sector unions are treating public employees as outsiders. But that's not true. Being opposed to collaborative bargaining doesn't mean thinking of public employees that way. Obama is making a false, derisive accusation.

  • Stop the attack on worker rights [depicts Hitler next to Walker, who has been given a Hitler moustache]
  • Scott Walker = Adolf Hitler "Can you tell the difference" I can't. (If you can't you must be in a coma!) Don't let "this" history repeat itself!!!! 1933 Hitler abolishes unions! Look at history! [Alongside a swastika]
  • Midwest Mussolini
  • Hosni Walker WI dictator
  • Why do Republicans hate people
  • Rape is never a "good choice" (Raping public employers is not the way to balance the budget)
  • Walker the Mubarak of the Midwest
  • Wisconsin's WTF moment Walker Terrorizes Families!!
  • Don't retreat reload repeal Walker [depicts Walker in sniper crosshairs]
  • One dictator down [depicting Hosni Mubarak] One dictator to go [depicting Walker]
  • Egypt showed the way Down with the dictator
  • "...the history of Hitler. In 1933, he abolished unions and that is what our Governor is doing today."
-- Posters displayed by labor protestors at the Madison, WI, demonstrations on February 15, 2011, (many referring to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker). The final quote is not from a poster, it is a remark from Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor (D).

Comment: First, there's the demonizing of saying that Republicans hate people. In other words, "The difference between you and me politically is you hate people, I don't." Second, there's the violent rhetoric, in the form of suggesting Walker be shot, and in the form of exaggerating (well, lying, really) and saying that Walker is committing acts of violence (e.g., rape, terrorism) against people. Lastly, there's the claim that Walker is a dictator on par with Egypt's Hosni Mubarak or Nazi Germany's Adolf Hitler. He's not, he hasn't done anything on par with Mubarak or Hitler. So this is more demonizing. As to the "Walker abolishes unions just like Hitler in 1933" claim, note the differences. (1) Hitler rose to power after unfree, unfair elections that were riddled with violence, both actual and threatened. Not true of Walker. (2) Hitler abolished unions, Walker isn't. He's just curtailing collective bargaining for public (but not private) unions. (3) Walker isn't even abolishing collective bargaining. He's limiting it for some public sector unions. There won't be collective bargaining for pensions and benefits, but it will still be allowed for salaries. So, to put Walker's labor policies on par with Hitler's is just hyperbole and demonizing. And, really, is everyone who opposes collective bargaining (for instance, FDR) on par with Hitler? This is the liberal, progressive version of the "Death panels!" exaggeration.

"[There are people] who sincerely believe that history has devised a leftward ratchet, moving in fits and starts but always in the direction of a more powerful state. ... The federal spending commitments now in place will bring about the leviathan state they have always sought. ... Our fiscal ruin and resulting loss of world leadership will, in their eyes, be not a tragic event but a desirable one, delivering the multilateral world of which they've dreamed so long. ... I urge a similar thoughtfulness about the rhetoric we deploy in the great debate ahead. I suspect everyone here regrets and laments the sad, crude coarsening of our popular culture. It has a counterpart in the venomous, petty, often ad hominem political discourse of the day. ... And besides, our opponents are better at nastiness than we will ever be. It comes naturally. Power to them is everything, so there's nothing they won't say to get it."
-- Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN), February 11, 2011, during speech to Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Comment: Notice, Daniels calls for a higher standard of discourse and laments the coarsening of our politics. He says we should avoid "venomous, petty" rhetoric and strive for civil debate. But then he demonizes his political opponents by saying that they are happy that we face fiscal ruin and a loss of international status, and that they only care about power and will say anything to get it. And he indulges in the "only my opponent" caricature by saying that liberals -- and not conservatives -- are "better at nastiness". This, unfortunately, is fairly typical. Politicians routinely say they're opposed to name-calling and invective, and then go on to verbally abuse their opponents with name-calling and invective.

What I believe that Obama is doing right now -- he is hell-bent on weakening America ... purposefully weakening America -- because he understood that debt weakened America, domestically and internationally, and yet now he supports increasing debt.
-- Former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), January 7, 2011, on Laura Ingraham's radio show.

Comment: It's one thing to say that Obama is wrong to incur more debt. But it's just demonizing to say Obama is doing it intentionally because he wants to weaken the country.

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