In July of 2008, an unhinged right wing freak named Jim David Adkisson walked into a Knoxville, Tennessee church and opened fire on the congregation during a youth choir performance. Adkisson killed 2 people, and seriously injured 7 others.
When police searched Adkisson’s home, they found a manifesto he had written. He said that he picked that particular church because of their alleged liberal leanings and their promotion of liberal ideas. They also found a library filled with right wing hate talk books from Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Michael Savage.
Adkisson had spent most of his adult life listening to right wing hate talkers tell him that America was under attack from liberals; that liberals wanted to destroy and emasculate America; and that liberals wanted to take away his rights. All of these things were mentioned in Adkisson’s manifesto, but if you’ve paid attention to right wing hate talkers over the years, they also echo the words of the right wing king of hate: Michael Savage.
In fact, Adkisson’s manifesto looked like Savage himself could have written it.
Michael Savage is unique within the right wing hate machine. Few people on the left pay attention to the inflammatory remarks that he makes on a daily basis, but they do so at their own peril. Savage has a rabid audience that is capable of committing truly horrific acts, as we saw with Jim Adkisson.
Savage changed his name early in his career from Michael Weiner. He claims that he didn’t want to be known as a typical Bronx Jew – those are his words – and so he came up with a name that he felt sounded a little more masculine.
Weiner knew that he wasn’t the only one suffering from severe insecurity about his own masculinity, and so he began his talk radio career by exploiting the irrational fears of other right wing crybabies. Weiner drew on his own experiences dealing with insecurities to help manipulate his audience.
So when he goes on the air on mocks an Iraq War veteran with PTSD – tells him to man up and stop acting like a crybaby – Weiner isn’t talking to the caller as much as he is talking to himself. You see, Weiner just can’t find enough courage to NOT be scared of the changing world around him.
So he does what every bully does in that situation – he demonizes that which terrifies him. His attacks on liberals, gays, minorities, women, immigrants, Muslims, and everyone else who isn’t an old, white guy represent the things that he fears. And by convincing his audience to fear these things, he doesn’t feel as alone or insecure.
There is a book on the market titled, The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right. You might want to read it before this campaign season hits full tilt. It is a book that helps us understand the connections between fringe tea party type messaging and hate crime. Xenophobe, homophobe, demophobe, Obama-phobe, tax-phobe, choice-phobe, government-phobe; Name the fear and you can match it to tea party messaging that panders to the most terrified, simpleton and impressionable minds in the room. The author of The Eliminationists, David Neiwert, says that there is a formula that promotes the terminally unsophisticated and disturbed parts of politically right audience to do more than just listen to hate messaging.
The basic principle behind the formula is to appeal to the most fearful and intellectually challenged portions of a listening audience. Once you get that crowd’s attention, the next step is to demonize, dehumanize, and in a sense objectify the hate talker targets. That then allows the hate talker to more easily characterize the government, the Latino, the liberal, the Muslim, the abortion doctor, and even the President of the United States as a traitor, a criminal and an opponent to everything that is righteous and decent.
The process is called eliminationism. It is a process that encourages the contempt talkers audience to ridicule, suppress, and ignore opinions that are different from those of the audience. I’ve interview Neiwert dozens of times over the years, and he has an interesting way of describing eliminationism.
He told me that it is the equivalent of allowing a village lunatic to wander through the town square poking everyone he dislikes in the eye with a sharp stick. His book points out that some villagers have enough courage and intellect to stop the lunatic, but others don’t have sense enough to realize that the lunatic has recruited them and has actually handed them their own sharp stick. That is the Michael Savage audience.
In the end, a pathetic, an impressionable right wing fringe lunatic murders innocent church goers, or they fly their plane into an IRS building, or they murder an abortion doctor, and we see that the process of eliminationism was successful once again. And we see that ignorant hate-driven diatribe by oddballs like Michael Savage Weiner are not exactly funny “ha ha” moments.
And the worst part is that there are no consequences for people like Michael Weiner. People died because of his words, and he just goes on with his life, onto his multi-million dollar syndication deal and he continues to write inaccurate, hate-filled books that his terrified audience turn into best-sellers. Fear sells, and Michael Weiner has become one hell of a salesman, because nobody is more afraid of the world than Michael Savage Weiner.