Just don't call them intolerant

Just don't call them intolerant

by digby

So I found myself on a Facebook page today called Veterans aqainst Occupy or some such nonsense. It had a lot of photos and a lot of comments about those photos.

I was reminded of how I felt reading Nixonland when I realized that the 60s weren't really the 60s. There were several "60s" which were experienced very differently by different Americans.

What I found most interesting on this page was the fact that they seemed extremely upset at being called intolerant. Here's a good example of one of their laments:

Followed by page after page of stuff like this:

Granted, they are set up to oppose the Occupy Movement, so I guess all the hippie punching is to be expected. (I guess I thought hippie punching was a metaphor.) But the endless complaints about how they are cruelly portrayed as being intolerant, interspersed with these images would be laughable if it weren't so disturbing.  Judging from the comments they are completely sincere in their belief that they are being unfairly described. But they seem to think that this degrading, hostile rhetoric toward hippies, liberals, blacks, feminists --- indeed anyone they see as an enemy --- constitutes the reality with which "everyone" really agrees. "Everyone", at least who isn't a whining liberal who needs to STFU (or get beaten, apparently.) Once in a while you'll see a commenter point out that something is a little bit indecent and they are shouted down immediately by the group or accused of not having a sense of humor.

I guess this must exist on the liberal side to some extent. The left is not composed of angels. I know we made fun of George W. Bush a lot for being dumb and the Tea Partiers were mocked mercilessly for their costumes and signs. And there's long been a disdain for southerners that still crops up. I'm not saying this stuff doesn't happen among all groups of people to some degree. But there's just so much of this imagery on the rightward tilt of the internet that it still astonishes me.

I guess the reason I feel unnerved by it is because I honestly feel that these people hate me personally in a very direct, immediate and violent way. I know we all accuse the right of being racists, and it undoubtedly unfair in many cases, but it's not usually accompanied by violent imagery devoted to physically harming them or totally degrading them on every possible level. At least not that I'm aware of. At worst it's an abstract war of words or a desire to confront the 1%. I honestly don't think I ever saw anything online about beating up Tea Partiers. I'm not saying it didn't happen, but there certainly wasn't this kind of violent, dehumanizing imagery featuring guns and open threats against regular citizens.

Maybe all this stuff is just harmless fantasy. Certainly the "communist" stuff is so delusional it's hard to take it seriously, although they seem to really believe it. But it creeps me out anyway. That sample represents a tiny fraction of the pictures featured just on one Facebook page. How much of this stuff does it take for some people to decide that their domestic "enemy" is no longer even human?

Update: Oh, and lest you think this attitude is confined to the right wing fringe, get a load of the tweets Mitt Romney's new spokesman just deleted and apologized for. He could easily have been one of the commenters on that Facebook page. And I'm sure he believes he's extremely tolerant, kind and decent too. This is systemic.