FRAMESHOP:FRAMESHOP: FOX'S FISTS OF VIOLENCE

This week's example of the violent right features Bill O'Reilly fist pounding his way through an interview on FOX News' "The Factor." With Geraldo Rivera seated across from him, O'Reilly hatched a theory that a drunk driving death should move...

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Jeffrey Feldman, Editor-in-Chief
Frameshop, 04/07/2007

This week's example of the violent right features Bill O'Reilly fist pounding his way through an interview on FOX News' "The Factor." With Geraldo Rivera seated across from him, O'Reilly hatched a theory that a drunk driving death should move us to deport Latinos, barking his points like a bad imitation of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men ("YOU WANT ANARCHY!"   "HE DOESN'T HAVE A RIGHT TO BE IN THIS COUNTRY!!" "BULL!!!") and stabbing his fingers at his guest's mustached proboscis.  Twenty after a skinhead broke Geraldo's nose on air, the threat of violence on right wing TV is now on both sides of the desk.

But when drawing attention to this violence from right wing pundits--violent rhetoric, violent behavior, violent theories, violent threats--the question arises as to what the alternative may be.  If not violence, then what?

In thinking about this question, many progressives believe that the opposite of "violence" in politics is "non-violence."  Subsequently, in an age peppered by the accusation that Democrats are "weak," many on the left are nervous about condemning the voice of violence on the right--for fear of being branded "afraid" or "soft."

The fear is unwarranted.   In politics, "violence" does not find its opposite in "non-violence," and as such there is no relationship between a rhetoric absent of violence and fear or weakness.  For sure, non-violence is characterized by an absence of the thing in question, but politically it is not the opposite--and therefore, not the accurate alternative for, violence. 

Politically, the opposite of violence is "participation."  The key to understanding this basic point is to actually specify what we mean by violence--and in particular to define it relative to the idea of "power," which is the core principle in politics.

Once we define "participation" as the opposite of violence in the broad conversation about political power, the next step is to recognize "participation" as a core progressive principle, a strength of our national character and the frame through which Americans can and must speak back to violent rhetoric from the right.

© 2007 Jeffrey Feldman, Frameshop

© Jeffrey Feldman 2007, Frameshop

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