A reader writes:
The interesting question is not whether inflammatory rhetoric can influence action, that question has been settled a thousand times by a thousand demagogues in just about every place in the world. The relevant issue is why the individuals engaging in this rhetoric (now mostly from the right, but not long ago in this country from the left, for example, The Weather Undergound) cling to the rhetoric as if their very identity and existence depends upon its validity.
The defensive posture of the right speaks directly to their existential crisis. Theirs appears a reactionary, reflexive narcissism, lashing out at the world that refuses to bend itself to their ideological demands. Unfortunately there is no psychotherapy or drug therapy available for our culture. The fear is that the craziness spins out of control and before devouring itself (for the appetite of paranoia is never satisfied) it will eat the rest of us.