Violent Rhetoric

Since the Arizona shootings, our media elite have been arguing about whether violent rhetoric, mostly from the right at this time, can inspire violence in people. Though it may inspire some random acts of violence, I see more danger in its ability to undermine the people's faith in the poilitcal system.

When bombarded 24/7 with claims like "Bush stole the election", "there was massive voter fraud", "where's the birth certificate", or "Obama's a Socialist/Marxist, Kenyan/Muslim" people begin to question the legitimacy of system. When they see the system as illegitmate or corrupt beyond repair, they often see no reason to play by the established rules and may instead, see taking matters into their own hands as a viable alternative. They vote with bullets and violence instead of at the ballot box. We see this in the developing world a lot and I believe the rhetoric we hear today is pushing us in that direction.

This is what happens when we reach that point.

Tunisia between Democracy and Anarchy Informed Comment

Tunisians woke Saturday morning to delirious joy at the advent of political liberty, but many worried about the simultaneous advent of social anarchy.

The fall of the government of dictator Zine al-Abedin Ben Ali after 23 years left behind a number of political and social vacuums. As for the security breach, it was gangs and Mafia that attempted to step into it. Friday afternoon and into the evening witnessed systematic looting in Tunis and in some other cities. Men in masks attacked civilians. Some Tunisians on the internet accused the police of going rogue. One tweeted, “many policemen have been arrested by the army, many gunshots around presidential palace.” Some tweets are calling the rogue police “counter-revolutionaries.”

Aljazeera says that cars with no license plates cruised the streets looking for opportunities for larceny. Helicopters dropped paratroopers in some towns to combat the looters. One Tunisian interviewed from a quarter of Tunis said, “There is complete disorder here. Families are afraid.” One eyewitness tweeted, “… what a night in Bourj Louzir, robbers still doing their things, and locals keep fighting them, at 3:45 am.” Some tweets report the formation of neighborhood ad hoc militias to patrol for safety. One warned that forming factious militias had been the downfall of Iraqis under US rule. (Iraq is thus a negative, not a positive, example for Tunisian oppositionists). The central train station and some supermarkets were set ablaze late Friday afternoon.

Be careful about what you wish for.


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