Bill Clinton. Keith Olbermann. Chris Matthews. Dick Durbin. Scott Feldstein. Jay Bullock. David Frum. Paul Krugman. The New York Times. Jonathan Alter. Bob Kerrey. James Clyburn. Joan Walsh. Robert Brady. Jon Justice, Jane Fonda, Michael Moore, Patton Oswald, Elizabeth Banks, Roger Ebert, John Legend, Josh Groban. Markos Moulitsas. Stuart Shapiro. Patrick Kennedy. Chris Liebenthal. John Kerry. Ed Schultz and Bill Press. Clarence Dupnik. Aaron Mehta.
This is but a partial list of politicians, journalists, bloggers, and celebrities who have chosen to use the horrific shooting in Tucson – which left six people dead, including a little girl, and a Congresswoman fighting for her life – as an opportunity to condemn conservatives and Republicans for allegedly inflammatory rhetoric. Some explicitly claim figures such as Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin are culpable for Jared Loughner’s actions, while others insinuate they are dangerously cultivating the sort of hatred and fear that could trigger similar acts in the future. *
Never mind that the perpetrator’s mentally-disturbed, violent tendencies are unrelated to politics. Never mind that the political indicators in his record, if anything, suggest hostility to God and an affinity for radical leftism. Never mind that his hatred of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had nothing to do with her or her party’s policies.
Jared Loughner thinks in gibberish, processes what he sees and hears in gibberish, and acts on gibberish. Yet we’re asked to hang our heads in shame about an alleged cause-effect relationship that leads from Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin straight to Loughner’s trigger finger?
Bull. I get the intent behind respectfully critiquing this line of attack as Allahpundit does, but doing so misses the point. The point is: this record has already been played time and time again. It’s broken. The people using this to smear conservatives know better. Some of the more shameless ones, like Frum and Feldstein, admit as much—they acknowledge Loughner’s real motives yet proceed to say we should use the opportunity to bash the Right’s “dangerous, irresponsible rhetoric” anyway.
None of this is sincere. We know because these leftist lies about conservatives are nothing new. When a Communist circulated Obama-as-Hitler posters, conservatives were blamed. MSNBC ran selective footage of a black man with a gun, to characterize him as a potentially trigger-happy white supremacist. Leftists have publicly advocated impersonating Tea Partiers. The media misrepresents polls to defame Tea Partiers. Phony quotes attributed to prominent conservatives are disseminated without hesitation.
We know because we have a decade’s worth of hatred, terrorism, anger, bigotry, dishonesty, and violence-inciting from scores of left-wing activists, celebrities, journalists, and public officials on the record. We have violence committed by leftists against conservatives, and violence committed by radical Islamists, for which leftists have a different standard. The online savagery of leftist commenters is the stuff of legend.
If any of these lying, two-faced, murder-exploiting bastards were even remotely concerned about the “tone” of American politics, they would have piped up when it was their side—their fellow travelers, their elected leaders, their favored media personalities—doing the “coarsening.” But with rare exception, they either ignore it outright, make excuses for it, or tell bald-faced lies about their side’s filth coming from “marginalized, unimportant people whose voices don’t carry too far.”
Sure. “Marginalized, unimportant people” like prominent MSNBC commentators Schultz and Olbermann. Like Rep. Alan Grayson, who Obama has showered with praise. Like the current Senate Majority Leader. Like Sen. Dick Durbin. Like Sen. Robert Byrd. Like Rep. Keith Ellison. Like the late Ted Kennedy. Like former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe and numerous other Democrat officeholders. Like former President Jimmy Carter. Like current President Barack Obama. Nah, those “voices don’t carry too far” at all…
You want to know why America’s got problems? Why our political discourse seems so degraded, so futile? Re-read the names comprising the first paragraph, and you’ll have one of the biggest answers. The answer isn’t that we don’t scrupulously follow arbitrary rules of decorum. The answer is that the conduct of bad people in government, in the media, and in the blogosphere has gone unchallenged for far too long. We criticize their misconduct one day, yet we smile at them and act as if it never happened the next. We’re so eager to demonstrate our reasonableness, our maturity that we keep reaching out to the other side, no matter what they do. It never seems to occur to us that they might be giving us a glimpse at their souls.
But these cretins—so consumed by hatred and bias, so devoid of morality, that they’ll exploit murder to hurt their political enemies—bring shame upon their professions and upon our country. Treating these smears like they’re sincere concerns legitimizes them, and guarantees that we’ll see more of this defamation in the future.
Enough. It’s time to stop pretending the participants of this smear campaign are decent people who’re simply misguided. It’s time to stop extending olive branches. To stop pretending it’s respectable to cast votes for them. To stop giving their blogs and publications our attention and business.
And given the topic, let me be perfectly clear, to preempt anyone who would consider twisting my words against me: this is not a call to violence. The only just response to even evil speech is to exercise your own freedoms of speech and free association. To respond with physical force would be a failure of our human capacity for self-control, a violation of our foes’ God-given, unalienable rights, a betrayal of our respect for the rule of law as citizens in a free society, and a vote of no confidence in our ability to solve our problems through the public discourse and the democratic process.
This much is true: American political discourse is sick. How we react to the murder-exploiters among us will reveal whether or not we’re finally serious about healing it.
* UPDATE: The second paragraph has been modified from its original version to more accurately reflect the caveats made by some of those named. In the comments, Scott Feldstein requests that I remove his name entirely. That’s not going to happen, but his complaint did convince me that this change was in order, because I value truth and accuracy regardless of which political agendas they advance or hinder.