Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Viral Vitriol From The Left: Thatcher, Warren, And The Legitimacy of Hate

The deaths of Margaret Thatcher and Pastor Rick Warren's son, Matthew, brought about the fact that the Left can be as vitriolic as the right - and no where else can vitriol be slung as freely and contemptuously as online.

USA Today:

Thousands are responding to Pastor Rick Warren's grief with compassion but others use the moment to attack him and his Christian message.

NYDaily News

Twitter users speculate Rick Warren’s son was gay, as motive for suicide
Southern California Pastor Rick Warren has been vocal about his anti-gay views, though there is not official indication his son, Matthew Warren, was gay. A statement on the 27-year-old’s sudden suicide Saturday said he ‘suffered from mental illness resulting in deep depression and suicidal thoughts.’

Overtly hating a "man of the cloth" is almost taboo in other countries, but in an America whose history has been dotted with charlatans, extreme Bible-thumpers and SPLC-condemned "Christian" groups recently bullying their way into politics, it is surprising that Rick Warren has been able to keep his benign public persona and his backhanded humility.

The hate-filled reactions to Warren's son's suicide, while despicable in their timing and intent, show the animousity America has had for opportunists like Warren: the Saddleback campus (complete with skateboard park), the awards of "Purpose Driven" to nations such as Uganda, the confusing P.E.A.C.E. plan have not had the thunderbolt effect Warren seemed to envision. His thinly-veiled Fundamentalist and Reconstructionist views came out in speeches to the Arab world and commercials for California's Prop 8.

And several hundred venomous tweets* were enough to set off a firestorm of Christian Right reactions:

Equality Matters

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly whitewashed the extremism of one of America’s most notorious anti-gay hate group leaders, suggesting that pro-gay activists are actually the intolerant ones.

In fairness, Megyn Kelly pointed out that some things should be inviolate when it comes to grief, but asking the leader of a hate group to analyze such hatred is patently ridiculous. 
Of course Tony Perkins is going to scream "Hypocrisy!" And where Kelly qualified her statements with "some", Perkins used his pulpit to insinuate "all." Kelly knew that ... and let it pass.

In Kelly's attempt to coalesce the Twitter remarks around gay marriage, she automatically skewed the conversation in Perkins' favor (this was, after all, FOX News).  The piece did not concern itself with the legitimacy of the hate. Rather, it concerned itself with the legitimacy of the people who hated Warren.

The Legitimacy of Thatcher HateIn another sense, the hate leveled at Warren was not legitimate because it used his son's death as a springboard for the vitriol. It wasn't substantiated. But the hate prompted by the death of Margaret Thatcher on the other hand...

The living, the dying, nor the dead are not sacrosanct. Let's face it - they never were. If "respect" was not garnered during a lifetime, chances are that only the facade of "common decency" would prevail and little else. Many thought that Margaret Thatcher commanded respect, but what she got was a respect given begrudgingly by some of her peers and deemed unworthy of any respect by the people, especially those she was determined to put out of work.

Irish Times:

"She absolutely hated working people. I've got very bitter memories of what she did. She turned all the nation against us. I would say to those people who want to mourn her that they're lucky she did not treat them like she treated us."
Elsewhere, however, Respect MP, the Bradford-based George Galloway told his 120,000 followers on Twitter that they should 'tramp the dirt down' on her grave; while other social media users joked that former miners would gladly dig it for free.

Hating Thatcher, however, has been as futile for the left as hating Reagan, since both were ensconced in their countries' histories as icons by the Right: the crowds celebrating Thatcher's death were put down by police and some were arrested. 

Again, the legitimacy of hate is turned into the legitimacy of the haters.

*Warren has 985,000 Twitter followers

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