Paul Jay: Instead of using ‘civility’ to cover up reality, how about a people’s civility intended to reveal it
The Tucson Shootings, Civility and the New Class War Zone
Every so often, a tragic event shreds a gapping hole in the fabric of the official American narrative. Then the political elite and their media do whatâ€
This time itâ€
Murdered along side Christina was Chief Judge for the U.S. District Court for Arizona, John Roll and five others. United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the intended target, was gravely wounded.
As we once again peer into the American heart of darkness, we see two nightmarish features of this country. First, itâ€
Also exposed, in all its hideousness, is the latest rise of a national political culture based on such paranoia, with one section of the movement wanting to refight the New Deal and the other, the Civil War. One wants a return to the unrestricted capitalism of the 19th century, while the other wants the unrestricted racism of slave society.
What are we told in the elite media is the problem? The lack of civility. Once again, a formulation that will provide that much needed calm, a solution that if we all try really hard, we can achieve. Letâ€
Certainly lets not talk about the fossils of the fossil fuel industry that pave the right populist way with tens of millions of dollars (read about the Koch brothers to start, but they are not alone).
These billionaires and their neo-con brothers finance and help organize populist politicians and movements that attract people who are legitimately alienated and legitimately angry with a big government that mostly serves big pools of capital. Capital for example, like that of the Koch brothers. Of course people taken in by all this wind up supporting one set of billionaires over the other, even against their own interests, but itâ€
This right-elite sponsored â€˜populismâ€
Playing a support role in all of this, the Internet â€˜paranoia businessâ€
There are no direct ties that we know of connecting the alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner, with any of these movements. But the Sheriff of Tuscan put it well enough:
[Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik] â€œWhen the rhetoric about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia of how government operates, and to try to inflame the public on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, has impact on people especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin withâ€¦â€
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So, are our politicians and mass media pundits discussing why the conditions of American life breed such mental illness and such vile politics? What do they say is the problem? Whatâ€
Well, so far the answer is, as I said before, â€œlack of civilityâ€. Our rhetoric is inflammatory.
Rep. Raul Labrador, on Meet the Press: â€œI just hope that we can have some civility and move forwardâ€
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, on Meet the Press: â€œI think members of Congress either need to turn down the volume, begin to try to exercise some high level of civility, or this darkness will never ever be overcome with lightâ€
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, on Meet the Press:â€â€¦ I agree, it’s our responsibility to make sure that we set the right example and set the tone of civilityâ€¦”
Donna Brazile, on ABC: â€œâ€¦I believe that we can return to civility. We can have debates, honest and strong disagreements on many of the major issues facing our country, but we can do it with civilityâ€
Rep. Steny Hoyer, on Face the Nation: â€¦in politics and in the media, in the public square, fashion our rhetoric so that it does not incite but informs and yes can differ but can differ in a way that is civil and consistent with our democracyâ€
What is the real American malaise? Why is this country in trouble? Lately the leader classes have been floating a fresh answer to these queries, talking up a new â€œroot causeâ€ of national woes. Not race, not class, . . . Our not-so-secret malaise is,
in a pet leader-class phrase, the decline of civility.â€
He said this in an article titled Seduced by Civility: Political Manners and The Crisis of Democratic Values, published by The Nation magazine in 1996. Now 15 years later, we get the same evasive answers at a time of even more serious national crisis.
While the far-right and neo-conservative elite mobilizes sections of the population for more war and a further weakening of constitutional and economic rights, the neo-liberal elite calls for bi-partisanship and civility.
President Obama said we shouldnâ€
The neo-liberal Obama Administrationâ€
But as his administration works to save the very structures that created the financial crisis to begin with, that enrich the top 2% as even larger segments of the population fall into poverty, his far right opponents are preparing his demise, building a movement that will usher in a regime permeated with the kind of bigotry and hatred of government and collective solutions described by the Sheriff of Tucson.
Listen to Dick Armey, a former Republican US Representative from Texasâ€
Dick Armey, on ABC: â€œâ€¦this incident is no basis by which anybody who sees their duty to America to stand down from that duty, but to redouble it, perhaps with a greater degree of caution, and hopefully with a greater degree of civility. We’ve always wanted that, but still, nevertheless, we must do our duty and defend our liberties in this great country.â€
The real question is what are the rest of us going to do. Weâ€
Benjamin DeMott put it well: â€œâ€˜civilityâ€
Instead of using â€˜civilityâ€
We can start by telling the truth about the society we live in. Letâ€
How about we answer this question: how can our schools and public health care system better intervene with students when there are obvious signs of psychotic disorders? What can we do to address the cultural, political, healthcare and law enforcement issues that have lead to so many mass shootings by disturbed young men? What policy would be in the public interest?
Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.