As I’ve mentioned before, there’s typically one of two ways that people caricature their political opponents. Either they say their opponents know the difference between right and wrong and are intentionally choosing to do the wrong thing, adopting the selfish act over the altruistic, just act. Or, they say their opponents are too ignorant or divorced from reality to realize what the right thing to do is.
In other words, people demonize their political opponents as being either evil or stupid.
Columnist Paul Krugman has the program down pretty well:
Interviewer: “You’re written a column for The New York Times since 2000, I think.”
Krugman: “That’s right.”
Interviewer: “Now, you don’t pull any punches with the Bush administration. In fact, you talked last night about the Bush White House being evil and stupid.”
“Evil and stupid”. How economical of Krugman to not let anything go to waste.
In the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Krugman lamented all the “eliminationist rhetoric” coming from Republicans and the right, rhetoric that he said just couldn’t be found in the same measure coming from Democrats and the left (although I note he never cited actual numbers to confirm this claim). Unfortunately, Krugman added, “the purveyors of hate have been treated with respect, even deference, by the G.O.P. establishment”.
Strangely, we’ve heard little from the Democratic Party establishment in condemnation of the “eliminationist rhetoric” from Jimmy Hoffa, Jr., when — referring to the Tea Party movement — he instructed those attending a Labor Day rally to “take these son of a bitches out”. In particular, President Barack Obama and his administration have either just been quiet about the matter or explicitly refused any responsibility for challenging such rhetoric (in their own party, at least). And Krugman hasn’t said much about Hoffa’s comments or the silence from Democrats in response.
This is why incivility endures. People like Krugman only cite the incivility of their opponents. The refuse to condemn their own incivility or the incivility of their allies.