Video screenshot, Oliver Willis on Twitter

Fox News somehow managed to top even the most breathless rightwing rhetoric against Attorney General Merrick Garland today with a graphic accompanying a "Fox and Friends" story pushing the lie that the Justice Department is "targeting" conservative parents who are upset about other lies that Fox News has been pushing about public schools. In mere reality, the DOJ has simply announced that it will investigate very real incidents of violence and death threats against public schools and school boards. But everyone on the Right is having a great time being angry at Garland for something he isn't doing, so why not?

The introduction to the "Fox & Friends" segment praised Republican senators for "grilling" Garland yesterday over his nonexistent persecution of parents mad about school mask mandates and "critical race theory," and illustrated Sen. Josh Hawley's claim that Garland had "weaponized the FBI" against ordinary parents by showing gunsights superimposed over people at a school board meeting.


But wait! It's only a visual metaphor! It's not like anyone could possibly think Merrick Garland is literally training a sniper scope on good Christian parents who simply want to scream about liberty and masks and communists indoctrinating children into thinking that America has ever been racist. So it's perfectly fine for Radio Rwanda Fox News to send the very subtle and entirely metaphorical message that the federal government is preparing to kill you simply for trying to protect your children (from masks and real history).

OK, let's remind y'all one more time: In hearings held by both the House and Senate, Garland has repeatedly made clear that the DOJ doesn't care if people protest at school board meetings, even if they raise their voices, lie, promote conspiracy theories, or dress like their favorite Founder by wearing a tricorner hat along with a QAnon shirt, as John Adams was fond of doing. The DOJ isn't sending FBI agents to school board meetings, either. But if people are threatening violence, then yes, that is a matter it would look into.

After all, it's not like there's anything wrong with using manipulated images to spread the message that you're being victimized. ISIS does it all the time.

Mind you, thanks to the false rightwing narrative, even Yr Wonkette's own facespace posts, which detail why it's all bullshit, have attracted a lot of very excitable rightwing parents who have very poorly informed thoughts on Garland, with insights like these:

[Garland has declared] any concerned parent a domestic terrorist.
I believe he should totally disappear
Thank goodness merrick and the fbi are around to protect us from those evil, domestic terrorist parents. I sleep much better at night knowing our school boards are protected, also.
This is communism. He has committed Treason
This DOJ is acting more like the KGB or the Gestapo evert day in an attempt to silence all that resist this administration socialist agenda.
He needs to be sent to gitmo one way

And our favorite,

Parents are brave warriors against the teaching of hate, and division, and teaching races to fear one another. That is the magnification of racism. School boards are leftist zealots today and should be removed. School books taught the wrongs of slavery and equality issues for many decades. To say otherwise would be a lie. Now they want to create hate and anger. Shameful. Parents, from many cultures, are bravely fighting this woke garbage. Modern day heroes.

Honestly, we can't see how a little graphic suggesting Garland has rightwingers in his literal gunsights could possibly escalate rightwing threats. It's not like the American Right is in the habit of threatening to kill people it's unhappy with. And it's also not as though we might expect a person in not-total control of his faculties to respond to stochastic terrorism by terrorizing. That one was for you, Governor Palin. Go on, sue us.

And when rightwingers actually do grab their guns and act on their violent fantasies, they don't kill that many people at a go, just nine in a Black church one time, 11 at a synagogue another time, three at a protest another time, and 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso yet another. (Pro-tip: if you're googling the number of victims, be sure to specify "El Paso," since "Walmart shooting" alone brings up too many different events, many of them not even political shootings, to sort through.)

And we certainly shouldn't worry about the guy who plaintively asked Charlie Kirk at a Toilet Paper USA event the other day,

When do we get to use the guns? ... That's not a joke. I'm not saying it like that. I mean, literally, where's the line? How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?

That was actually near me, in the Boise exurb of Nampa, Idaho (motto: "Gateway to Kuna").

Honestly, it's probably a mistake to make so much of a Fox News graphic. The real threats of violence, we understand, involve the total leftist war on white people.

Besides, if anyone does start shooting up school board meetings, it'll be liberals' fault for pointing out the violent imagery.

[Oliver Willis on Twitter / Public Radio International / Media Matters]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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