Memo to the Right Wing: Put Up or Shut Up

Sara Robinson

Dear Conservatives:

Your fellow Americans demand an answer — and we want it now. Just one simple question:

Are you deliberately trying to start a civil war?

Just answer the question. Yes or no. Don’t insult us with elisions, evasions, dithering, qualifications, or conditional answers. We need to know what your intentions are — and we need to know NOW. People are being shot dead in the streets of America at the rate of several per month now. You may not want responsibility for this — but the whackadoodles pulling the triggers make no bones about who put them up to this.

You did.

The assassins themselves are ratting you out. They’re telling us, straight up, that they were inspired to act by the hate radio talkers that you empowered — one of whom is now the de facto head of the Republican party. They got it from media outlets owned by your biggest donors. They got it from bloggers who receive daily talking points faxed in from the GOP. They got it from activists representing causes that would have never become causes in the first place if the issues hadn’t been politically expedient for you.

Beyond that: You’ve already admitted your own complicity. When the Department of Homeland Security expressed their worries about right-wing extremist violence last April, practically every conservative pundit in the country went into a righteous fit. DHS never named anyone directly, so it was astonishing how many of you on the right were so quick to step up and claim that that memo was slandering you, personally and collectively. Since you were so eager to claim that that memo was all about you, now that the violence has come to pass, we’re well justified in holding you to that.

And please don’t insult our intelligence by saying that these acts are the work of lone wolves, and that you don’t have anything to do with this, and that it’s all the fault of the left. It’s true that there have always been crazies in our midst. But by choosing to gain power through a politics that only motivates through hate and fear, you’ve recruited a good-sized army of those crazies, armed them up, and turned them into paranoid monsters that are now running loose on the American landscape.

We know you have absolute and utter contempt for the intelligence of the average American, but trying to blame the left for creating this situation is a fabrication so vast that it tells us you don’t even have so much as a shred of respect for yourselves. Even you seem to know that your word is worth nothing to most Americans now — and you don’t seem to care.

You don’t seem to give a damn about the future of this country, either. You’re just in it to win the next election, increase profits for the next quarter, or boost your ratings in the next book. As long as selling hate accomplishes any of these goals, you’ll do it — without regard for the cultural sewage you’re creating, without regard for the way you’ve polluted the political landscape, and now apparently without even a moment’s regard for the innocent lives that are being lost because you seem bent on destroying every shred of trust required for our democracy to function.

But the bodies are piling up. We are demanding an accounting from you. We are demanding that you take responsibility for the situation you’ve created. We are looking you straight in the eyes and demanding a straight answer:

Are you deliberately trying to start a civil war?

If your answer is yes, then stop this cowardly half-assed screwing around. You speak the language of war and honor; but the honor code of the warriors you pretend to revere demands that you declare your intentions. If you really believe that the only way to get the America you want is to negate a fair election, shred the Constitution, and violently cleanse the country of everyone who doesn’t agree with you, then man up and get on with it. If it’s a shooting war you want, do not doubt that there are plenty of progressives who will oblige you. If this goal is so important that you’re really willing to kill for it, please don’t forget that you will also need to be willing to die for it. Because, like martyrs Greg McKendry and Steven Johns proved, we are willing to do whatever is necessary to stop you.

If your answer is no, then you have just one other choice. Knock off the tantrums, grow up, rebuild your party, come back to the table, and sit down and govern with us. (We know this will be a stretch, but we think some of you are capable of it.) You will need to learn, many of you for the first time, to get your way as adults do — without fear-based politics, polarizing rhetoric, on-air threats against those who disagree with you, and repeating outrageous lies in the face of stone facts and irrefutable evidence.

And most of all: you need to stop feeding the crazies. You need to disavow them in every way possible — sincerely, emphatically, and with full awareness that every time one of these people acts, it destroys the credibility of “conservatives,” “Republicans,” and “the right wing” in the eyes of the country. You cannot assassinate your way back to power. And don’t doubt for a moment that the majority of Americans — even those who agree with your ideas — will abandon your cause forever once it realizes that’s what you’re trying to do.

Since you’re the ones funding the violent radicals on your flank, you need to stop sending them money. Since you know far more about their activities than any one else, you need to be the ones who turn them in. Since you’re the ones who make heroes and martyrs out of them, you need to be the ones who call them out as criminals. Until you do this — consistently, wholeheartedly, and responsibly — we can only conclude that these assassins are operating with your support and approval, and that you are intentionally trying to start an armed revolution in America.

That’s your choice. Are you deliberately trying to start a civil war? Or are you willing to work for real civility, and return to your seat at the table, ready to help us choose the country’s future?

Yes or No. Right now. The window is closing fast behind you. And once it closes, none of us — not you, not us, not anyone — will have the choice to avoid the catastrophe that will follow. It’s your decision. And you need to make it now.

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